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VV56 Philosophy and Theology BA Undergraduate  2018


UCAS code VV56
Degree BA
Mode of study Full Time
Duration 3 Years
Location Durham City
Typical Offers A-Level
International Baccalaureate
Please also check Requirements and Admissions.
Alternative qualifications

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

Course Summary


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 and Religion:

  • Introduction to the Biblical Studies
  • Introduction to Christian Theology.

In addition students are able to choose one further module from those offered by Theology and Religion.

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. In previous years these have included:

  • 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 and Politics: Theory, Methods and Values
  • Applied Ethics
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Biomedical Ethics Past and Present.

A similarly wide range of modules are available in Theology. In previous years these have included:

  • Literature and Theology of the Old Testament
  • New Testament Theology: Exploring Paul and John
  • Death, Ritual and Belief
  • Christian Theology: The Essential Questions
  • The Making of Modern Christianity: Medieval and Reformation Europe
  • Philosophy and the Christian Religion 100-1300
  • God, Freedom and the Soul
  • Topics in Christian Ethics
  • Science and Theology: Exploring the Interface
  • Religion in Contemporary Britain
  • Judaism
  • God and the Universe of Faiths
  • Religion and Film
  • The Postmodern God
  • The Theology of Thomas Aquinas
  • Landscapes of Worship in Contemporary South Asia
  • 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

Course Detail

To find out more about the modules available to students studying at Durham University 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

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

Subject requirements, 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.
  • Please note we do not accept General Studies or Critical Thinking as part of our offer
  • Typical IB score 37 to include 666 in higher level subjects
  • 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.

Science A-levels

Applicants taking Science A-levels that include a practical component will be required to take and pass this as a condition of entry. This applies only to applicants sitting A-levels with an English examination board.

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 £18,300.00 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 

Career Opportunities


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

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 ...

Theology and Religion

Studying Theology and Religion I learnt how to develop and present my arguments and appreciate and critique those of others. Developing these communication and analytical skills has been really important in preparing me for my current role, as this includes working with colleagues on project teams, finding solutions to challenges and sometimes analysing complex data. Equally, studying a diverse range of topics during my degree, from Church History to the Anthropology of Religion, has prepared me to adapt to the varied nature of the graduate scheme. I also elected to study several ethics modules, which has undoubtedly informed my career path and choice of business: I knew that I wanted to work for a business which was commercially competitive, but shaped by its ethical values.

Of those students that left in 2015:

- 96% are in employment or further study six months after graduating

Of those in employment:

- 90% are in graduate level employment
- Median salary £24,611

(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

A significant number of students progress onto higher level study following their degree in theology and religion. Some remain within their academic field of interest and pursue a Masters, notably at Durham but also other prestigious institutions. Others take a different route and pursue professional postgraduate programmes in law, finance and teaching at institutions including Manchester, King's College, Cambridge and Oxford.

Employment development opportunities

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre collaborates closely with the Department of Theology and Religion. The link Careers Adviser delivers presentations to each year group on a range of areas including options with the subject, career decision making, successful applications and interviews, and advice for those considering further study. Student representatives also organise alumni events at which Durham Theology and Religion graduates return to speak about their career experiences, offering first hand advice and tips on how to enter different sectors.

Durham University theology and religion graduates enter a wide range of career areas including teaching, government, law, recreation and leisure, marketing, business and finance. Our graduates find employment with leading employers such as the Cooperative Group, Teach First, Samaritans, Legal Services Commission, National Health Service, Royal Placement Agency, National Theatre and Deloitte.

Specific roles our graduates have progressed into include project manager, teacher, clergy, communications researcher, events organiser, projects officer and civil servant.

Recruitment Consultancies

Using recruitment consultancies can be a very useful approach to help you find employment. You can identify consultancies using the Recruitment and Employment Confederation website. Consultancies specialising in graduate opportunities, such as the Graduate Recruitment Bureau, can also be an excellent source of help.

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:

Discover Durham Tours

Discover Durham tours offer a brief introduction to the University. The tour begins at one of our undergraduate colleges, where you will receive an introductory talk from a member of college staff, followed by a tour of the college by current students.

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.

  • 9th in The Complete University Guide 2016


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department web pages.


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 for study of theology and religion. Theology and Religion at Durham University is a wide ranging degree that 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 proud of our highquality 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).
  • 96% of our Theology and Religion students said they were satisfied with the quality of their course in the National Student Survey 2015 (sector-wide average 90%).
  • 2nd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2016.
  • 2nd in The Complete University Guide 2016.
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2016.


For a current list of staff, please see the Theology & Religion Department web pages.


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.