V500 Philosophy BA Undergraduate 2017
|Mode of study||Full Time|
|Please also check Requirements and Admissions.|
|Telephone||+44 (0)191 334 6550|
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.
In their first year, all Single and Joint Honours 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. Single Honours students take in addition a module in logic, and one or two other modules in history and philosophy of science and medicine.
We have special expertise in the history and philosophy of science and medicine and you can take introductory courses in either (or both) of these subjects in your first year. The study of the history of science involves looking at the development of science as the way of explaining events in the natural world, and considering it critically as a belief system in relation to other belief systems and dogmas. The study of the philosophy of science raises philosophical questions about scientific method and about the various metaphysical assumptions upon which scientific theories depend.
Years 2 and 3
In the second and third years, students have a choice of a wide range of modules. In previous years these have included:
- Moral Theory
- Philosophy of Mind
- Modern Philosophy I and II
- Gender, Film and Society
- Theory, Literature and Society
- Issues in Contemporary Ethics
- Philosophy of Religion
- Political Philosophy
- Language, Logic and Reality
- Twentieth Century European Philosophy
- Philosophy of Science
- The Philosophy of Economic and Politics: Theory, Methods and Values
- Victorian Science and Religion
- Applied Ethics
- Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
- History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
- Biomedical Ethics Past and Present.
You will also have the opportunity to study a subject in depth, by writing a substantial Dissertation of your choice.
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.
To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University in 2016 please click here.
Please note: Current modules are indicative. Information for future academic years may change, for example, due to developments in the relevant academic field, or in light of student feedback.
Course Learning and Teaching
Students taking the BA in Philosophy will receive an average of eight timetabled contact hours per week over the course of the programme.
Philosophical development is principally a matter of acquiring a range of reasoning skills, rather than familiarising oneself with a body of knowledge. Hence, from the outset, the programme places a strong emphasis on dialogical interaction. Lectures involve plenty of opportunities for questions and extended discussion, and tutorials consist mostly of structured, critical dialogue in the context of a friendly, supportive environment.
Timetabled contact is only a part of the learning process, and its aim is to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to navigate the relevant literature yourself and to pursue independent learning. Lectures and accompanying documents contextualise material and introduce you to topics, positions and debates. At least four hours of additional study per week are recommended for each lecture, which includes reading and the completion of assignments. You are therefore expected to spend around 75% of your study time on independent research. Having done your reading, you return to lecture topics in small group tutorials. These help you to refine your understanding of material, and to develop the reasoning skills needed to formulate, present, defend and criticise philosophical positions.
In the first year of study, there are nine hours of contact time per week, consisting of weekly lectures and fortnightly tutorials. All our students are welcomed as full members of the department’s intellectual community from the moment of their arrival, and attend an induction lecture during the first week of the programme.
In the second and third years, as you further develop the critical skills required for independent learning, lecture-based modules are complemented by seminar-based modules. Weekly ninety-minute seminars place more emphasis on student participation, in the form of group exercises and short presentations. Modules also become more specifically focused, and you are offered a wider range of topics to choose from, especially in the third year. These build upon lower level modules in a coherent, progressive fashion. For example, you have the option of pursuing a distinctive ‘history and philosophy of science and medicine’ strand, which runs throughout our curriculum. Other evolving areas of study include aesthetics, philosophy of mind and psychology, theoretical and applied ethics, logic and metaphysics, history of philosophy, ‘Continental’ philosophy, and non-Western philosophy. You thus have the opportunity to steer your studies in a range of different directions, many of which are interdisciplinary. You will do so under the guidance of internationally recognised experts in the relevant fields, who are in a position to familiarise you with cutting-edge research.
In the second year, students continue to receive an average of nine hours of scheduled contact time per week. However, this reduces to six hours in the third year, when you write a dissertation, which is a cornerstone of the programme. To help prepare for it, there is a lecture in your second-year, explaining how to go about choosing a dissertation topic and supervisor. In addition, you receive detailed instructions via email. In your final year, having selected your topic, you are offered six hours of one-to-one dissertation supervision with an expert in your chosen research area. This teaching includes guidance on suitable reading, critical discussion of relevant sources, detailed advice on how to write a 12,000 word piece of research, and intensive critical engagement with your own philosophical position and argument. Hence, through the process of researching and writing a dissertation, the critical skills that you begin to develop in your first year of study (skills that can be put to work in a wide range of careers) are developed to such an extent that you are able to pursue high-level, independent research.
In addition to offering scheduled contact hours, the department has an open-door policy. You are welcome to call by staff members’ offices or make appointments via email whenever you like. You are also offered three annual workshops, on (1) essay writing, (2) examination technique and (3) choosing second- and third-year modules. All students are invited to attend Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures, Research Seminars, Undergraduate Philosophy Society talks and other department events.
Subject requirements, level and grade
In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:
- To study single honours Philosophy 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.
- We consider each application holistically. Whilst academic achievement is important, it is not the only factor that we consider when assessing applications and applicants who have achieved, or are predicted to achieve, close to our typical offer, but who have not met it exactly, will be welcome to apply if they have a strong application in other key elements, for example can demonstrate merit and potential through their personal statement or their reference.
- 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.
- If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
English Language requirements
Please check requirements for your subject and level of study.
How to apply
Information relevant to your country
Fees and Funding
Full Time Fees
|EU Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Home Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|Island Student||£9,250.00 per year|
|International non-EU Student||£17,400.00 per year|
Note: Fees are subject to review and change in-line with inflation.
Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.
Scholarships and funding
Durham Philosophy graduates possess skills in critical thinking, logical analysis and the clear communication of complex information that make them much sought after in many professional walks of life. Our research-led teaching ensures that they are not only well informed about the latest developments in Philosophy, but also competent researchers in their own right, able to think for themselves and tackle problems imaginatively. Philosophy at Durham is not an 'ivory tower' subject and students are taught to relate theory to practice and see the relevance of their studies to everyday life. Our broad programme covers all major areas of Philosophy and includes modules in moral philosophy (e.g. Applied Ethics and Biomedical Ethics), Political Philosophy, Science & Religion, History & Philosophy of Psychiatry and Theory, Literature and Society which explicitly apply philosophical techniques to real-world problems.
All students in their final year write a long dissertation that provides an excellent opportunity for them to put the final edge on their analytical, research and presentational skills. Some Durham Philosophy graduates proceed to higher-degree study and an academic career; others enter a wide range of professions including the law and civil service, management, public relations, teaching, marketing, retail and financial services. In the 2012 Complete University Guide, Durham Philosophy graduates rank joint-second in the UK for 'graduate prospects'.
I had always seen myself in some kind of charity work so while travelling after graduation, my brother and I set up our own volunteer organisation called Development Through Action (DTA). Durham helped give me the confidence to do something unique and worthwhile.
Of those students that left in 2015:
- 83% are in employment or further study six months after graduating
Of those in employment:
- 100% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £25,750
(Source: Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey of 2014/15 graduates. The DLHE survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing six months after graduation. Full definitions for the DLHE Record can be found here:www.hesa.ac.uk/support/definitions/destinations)
A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in Philosophy. Many remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also at other prestigious institutions including the London School of Economics and Cambridge. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance and teaching to name but a few.
Employability development opportunities
The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works closely with the Philosophy Department. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on topics relevant to that stage of their academic career. These cover career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. Q & A sessions are also available in which students can ask the adviser anything about their future career plans or ideas.
Durham University Philosophy graduates enter a wide range of career areas including publishing, retail, marketing, business and finance. Our graduates find employment with leading employers in both the public and private sectors such as British Telecom, The Royal Society of Medicine, Goldman Sachs, Government Olympic Committee, KPMG, The Royal Navy and PwC. Specific roles our graduates have progressed into include marketing graduate, trainee accountant, international financial analyst, account manager and press publishing administrator.
Find out more about our alumni career destinations here ...
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: www.durham.ac.uk/opendays
Overseas Visit Schedule
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.
- 95% of our Philosophy students were satisfied with the quality of their course in the National Student Survey 2015 (sector-wide average 90%).
- 9th in The Complete University Guide 2016
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.
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