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VV56 Philosophy and Theology BA Undergraduate 2016


UCAS code VV56
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 Years
Location Durham City
Typical offers A Level
International Baccalaureate (IB)
Alternative qualifications

Department(s) Website
Telephone +44 (0)191 334 6550 (Philosophy)

Course Content


The study of philosophy at Durham does not follow one particular school. The Department is unique in the UK in its wide-ranging expertise in Anglo-American analytical philosophy and Continental philosophy. Each of these has its own distinctive set of issues and approaches to resolving them. We also have special expertise in the philosophy of science, and social science, and the history of science and medicine. So at Durham you will follow one of the widest-ranging philosophy degrees in the country.

At Durham, you will have the opportunity to study Philosophy as a Single Honours degree, or with another subject including: English, Music, Psychology, Politics or Theology. Philosophy can also be combined in a Joint Honours degree within the Natural Sciences programme or as part of a Combined Honours degree.

Philosophy is a new subject for many students, so in your first year you follow a range of introductory courses, introducing the fundamental philosophical subject areas.

Year 1

In their first year, all students take the core modules of Ethics and Values, Knowledge and Reality, and Reading Philosophy. The first two of these concern the two broad divisions of Philosophy, into Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge on the one hand, and Moral Philosophy on the other. Reading Philosophy is a text-based course which examines in depth classic works by writers such as Plato, Hume and Sartre.

Students take two compulsory modules in Theology: Introduction to the New Testament and Introduction to Christian Theology. In addition, students are able to choose one further module from those offered by Theology.

Years 2 and 3

In the second year, all students take Philosophy of Religion.

In the second and third years, students also have a choice of a wide range of Philosophy topics including:

  • Moral Theory
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Modern Philosophy I and II
  • Theory, Literature and Society
  • Gender, Film and Society
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Metaphysics
  • Language, Logic and Reality
  • Twentieth Century European Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • The Philosophy of Economics: Theory, Methods and Values
  • Applied Ethics
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Biomedical Ethics.

A similarly wide range of modules are available in Theology; some examples include:

  • Literature and Theology of the Old Testament
  • New Testament Theology: Exploring Paul and John
  • Death, Ritual and Belief
  • The First Urban Churches
  • Shamanism East and West
  • Issues in Old Testament Studies
  • Topics in Christian Ethics
  • Aramaic.

Students also have the opportunity to study a subject in depth, by writing a substantial Dissertation of your choice.

Study Abroad


We participate in exchange schemes through which you may spend a year of your studies abroad, either with universities in Europe – through the SOCRATES/ERASMUS programme – or with the University of California.

Theology and Religion

We are part of the ERASMUS programme which encourages students to study for part of their course in a university of another EU country. We have exchange links with the following European universities where teaching is offered in the language of the country:

  • Strasbourg (France)
  • Tübingen, Kiel and Erfurt (Germany)
  • Bern (Switzerland)
  • Iasi (Romania)
  • Athens and Thessaloniki (Greece).

ERASMUS students can follow courses in English at our partner universities in:

  • Leuven (Belgium)
  • Helsinki (Finland)
  • Uppsala (Sweden)
  • Oslo (Norway)
  • Reykjavic (Iceland).

You can also benefit from the non-EU exchange schemes set up by Durham University which include:

  • Boston College (USA)
  • The University of British Columbia (Canada)
  • McMaster University (Canada)
  • Queens University (Canada)
  • University of Calgary (Canada)
  • The University of Hong Kong (China)
  • The National University of Singapore (Singapore)
  • University of Otago (New Zealand)
  • University of Western Australia (Australia).
  • More information on the Study Abroad option is available online at

Learning and Teaching

As a student on the BA Philosophy and Theology programme, you will receive on average about 8 hours of timetabled contact per week over the course of the year. This will included a combination of lectures, seminars, tutorials, and study skills classes. The number and balance of these different activities will change over the course of your programme as you develop your knowledge and ability to undertake your own independent and scholarly engagement with texts and issues.

The various methods of teaching exemplify and facilitate the various skills, practices and virtues required for independent scholarly engagement with texts and issues. Lectures present a model of scholarship and articulacy by conveying foundational material and exemplifying an approach to the subject-matter so that you develop a clear understanding of the subject and improve your skills in evaluating and analysing information. Seminars enhance your knowledge and understanding of the subject through preparation and interaction with other students and staff, promoting awareness of and respect for different viewpoints and approaches, and developing your skills of articulacy, advocacy and interrogation. During one-to-one and small group discussions and tutorials you will receive feedback on your work and you will have the opportunity to discuss specific issues in detail, enhance your knowledge, and further develop your writing skills. From the outset of the programme your philosophical development will be supported by a strong emphasis on dialogical interaction, extended discussion, ample opportunities for questions, and structured, critical dialogue in the context of a friendly, supportive environment.

Timetabled contact is only the beginning of your learning. It provides a starting point for your development as an independent learner. Typically, classroom teaching and learning will form about 25% of the time you will spend on your studies; you will be expected to spend the remaining 75% of your time on independent research. We will provide you with reading lists, handouts, suggestions for preparation, and other online materials to guide you in your independent research.

The culmination of the process of becoming an independent researcher is the third-year dissertation, a large research project that counts for one third of your marks for your final year. This gives you the opportunity to engage at an advanced level with creative cutting-edge research at the forefront of the discipline, working on a topic of your choice. The dissertation is excellent not only for those students interested in further academic research, but also represents the cumulative development of skills in analysis, synthesis, presentation and interpretation which the degree programme aims to foster and which are highly prized by future employers.

Throughout your programme of study, you will be invited and encouraged to seek one-to-one feedback on your written work either during formal feedback sessions or during staff ‘office hours’. Each year the Director of Undergraduate Studies contacts all undergraduate students with suggestions about how to get one-to-one feedback on written work. In both departments students are welcome to call by staff members’ offices or make appointments via email whenever needed.

Students on this Joint Honours programme benefit from access to study support and broader academic activities provided by both departments:

Department of Theology and Religion: At
level one, connected to the Academic Advising system, there are lectures by departmental staff and staff from the University's Academic Writing Unit on various study skills necessary for successful learning at a research-led University, including effective reading, note-taking, academic writing, and conducting research (including how to access literature from the library). At level two, toward the end of the year, there is a lecture on preparation for the level-three dissertation. At level three, late in Michaelmas term, the Dissertations Coordinator offers a presentation on various aspects of researching for and writing the dissertation.

Department of Philosophy: Students are offered three annual workshops, on: (1) essay writing; (2) examination technique; and (3) choosing modules for Years 2 and 3. All students are welcomed as full members of the department’s intellectual community from the moment they arrive here. They are invited to attend Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures, Research Seminars, Undergraduate Philosophy Society talks and other department events.

The departments also have extensive programmes of research-related activities which you are warmly encouraged to attend. These include several research seminar series and public lectures from high-profile guest speakers and visiting scholars. The University also frequently hosts eminent and well-known visiting speakers. In addition to this, you will receive invitations to attend regular workshops that are organized in collaboration with the Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subjects required, level and grade

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • To study Philosophy and Theology you must have AAA at A-level, or the equivalent, in arts or science subjects. Philosophy at AS or A level is not a requirement.
  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study.
  • An interview may form part of the entry requirements for mature students with non-standard qualifications.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.
  • Please note we do not accept General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer.

English Language requirements

IELTS of 6.5 (no component under 6.0); TOEFL iBT 92 (no component under 23); Cambridge Proficiency (CPE) Grade C; or Cambridge Advanced (CAE) Grade A.

Requirements and Admissions

The University accepts the following alternative English language tests and scores.

Information relevant to your country

Fees and Funding


Fees have not been set for this academic year.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities



Theology and Religion


Open days and visits

Pre-application open day

Pre-application open days are the best way to discover all you need to know about Durham University. With representatives from all relevant academic and support service departments, and opportunities to explore college options, the open days provide our prospective undergraduates with the full experience of Durham University.

Please see the following page for further details and information on how to book a place:

Campus tours

Overseas Visit Schedule

Department Information



This most ancient yet compelling intellectual discipline is fundamental to our understanding of what it is to be human.

Philosophy studies profound and important questions that arise in all areas of human life. At Durham University, we offer a distinctive, research-led Philosophy curriculum, incorporating considerable levels of variety and choice. Whatever you choose, you will be taught by internationally renowned experts in the field.

We are one of the UK’s top philosophy departments. The exceptionally high-quality education you receive here will equip you with critical abilities that can be put to use in all sorts of ways and which are prized by employers.

  • 94% of our Philosophy students said they found the course intellectually stimulating in the National Student Survey 2014 (sector-wide average 92%).
  • 4th in The Guardian University Guide 2015.
  • 5th in The Complete University Guide 2015.

Durham is one of the larger Philosophy departments in the UK, with 20 permanent members of staff. We are known as a very friendly department where you will have a lot of contact with full-time academic staff. We have an excellent department library that complements the University and college libraries. There is an active Philosophical Society and a weekly research seminar which students are welcome to attend.


Theology and Religion


One of the leading centres to study Theology and Religion.

Theology and Religion at Durham University is a wide-ranging degree which combines aspects of philosophy, history and social sciences, and will give you valuable insights into how people live in today’s world.

The Theology and Religion Department has established an international reputation as one of the leading departments in its field yet we are equally as proud of our high-quality teaching and commitment to our students. Our degree programmes offer you enormous flexibility, with a rich variety of subjects, and the opportunity to engage in serious and exciting explorations in Biblical studies, Christian theology and the study of religion.

  • Ranked 1st in the UK for Internationally Excellent and World-leading research and joint 1st for Internationally Excellent and World-leading research impact (REF 2014).
  • 97% of our Theology and Religion students said they found our staff enthusiastic about what they teach in the National Student Survey 2014 (sector-wide average 93%).
  • 1st in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2015.
  • 1st in The Complete University Guide 2015.
  • 1st in The Guardian University Guide 2015.

We have excellent library facilities. As well as the University’s libraries, there are specialist Theology collections in Durham Cathedral Library (especially the Sharp Library). In addition, most college libraries have Theology and Religion sections.


NB: Information contained on the website or in the literature with respect to the fee is correct at the time of publication but the University reserves the right to change the course information or fee at a later date.