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Durham University


VV56 Philosophy and Theology BA Undergraduate 2022


Please note: 2020-21 courses may be affected by Covid-19 and are therefore subject to change due to the ongoing impact of Covid-19. Summaries of course-specific changes resulting from the impact of Covid-19 will be provided to applicants during August 2020.

For the latest information on our plans for teaching in academic year 2020/21 in light of Covid-19, please see

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
Contextual Offers You may be eligible for an offer which is one or two grades lower than our standard entry requirements. Find out more.
More information Still have questions?
Department(s) Website

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, Psychology, Politics or Theology. Philosophy can also be combined in a Joint Honours degree within the Natural Sciences degree 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 the first year, you will 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 of philosophy.

You will take two compulsory modules in Theology and Religion:

  • Introduction to the New Testament
  • Introduction to Christian Theology.

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

Years 2 and 3

In the second year, you will take Philosophy of Religion. In the second and third years, you will also have a choice of a wide range of Philosophy topics.

In previous years these have included:

  • Moral Theory
  • Modern Philosophy I and II
  • History of Science and Medicine
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • 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
  • Philosophy of Mind.

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.

You will also have the opportunity to study a subject in depth, by writing a substantial dissertation of your choice.

Study Abroad

You can benefit from exchange schemes set up by Durham University which, at the time of writing, 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).

Placement Year

You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Course Learning and Teaching

As a student on the BA (Hons) Philosophy and Theology degree, you will receive on average about 8 hours of timetabled contact per week over the course of the year. This will include 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 degree 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 degree 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 aims to foster and which are highly prized by future employers.

Throughout your studies, 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 degree benefit from access to study support and broader academic activities provided by both departments:

Department of Theology and Religion: In Year 1, 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 Year 2, toward the end of the year, there is a lecture on preparation for the level-three dissertation. At Year 3, late in autumn term, the Dissertations Coordinator offers a presentation on various aspects of researching for and writing the dissertation.

Department of Philosophy: You will be 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 organised in collaboration with the Careers and Enterprise Centre.

Admissions Process

Subject requirements, level and grade

A level offer – AAA. Philosophy at AS or A level is not a requirement.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended Diploma – DDD. 

Typical IB score 37 to include 666 in higher level subjects.

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

  • 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

The tuition fees for2022/23 academic year have not yet been finalised, they will be displayed here once approved.

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and funding 

Career Opportunities


Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 82% are in paid employment or further study 6 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 77% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £24,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Theology and Religion

Of those students who graduated in 2018:

  • 80% are in paid employment or further study 6 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 74% are in a professional or managerial job
  • Average salary of £25,500.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found 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:

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



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.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020.
  • 5th in The Guardian University Guide 2020.


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


Durham is a place of self-discovery, where ‘belief’ and ‘beliefs’ are taken seriously.

Human beings always have had, and always will have, worldviews and fundamental beliefs about the way the universe is, and their role in it. This is the part of the human condition that is studied in Theology and Religion at Durham, from a range of methodological and disciplinary perspectives: social scientific/anthropological; textual; historical; and philosophical/ethical.


  • World Top 4 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2020.
  • 2nd in The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2020 and The Complete University Guide 2020.


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


Durham University has important museums including the Oriental Museum that houses many religious artefacts. Durham University students are given the opportunity to learn from, research and handle objects not normally on view to the public.

We are well placed for the study of living religious traditions and enjoy a strong relationship with the adjacent cathedral. We also have good links to other faith communities in the North East and run regular field trips to Durham’s Muslim chapel, Newcastle’s Hindu Temple and Newcastle’s Gurdwara. The department has connections with the highly active societies for Theology and Religion, which are active in organising seminar series, field trips and social events.

We enjoy centrally located classrooms in historically important buildings that are comfortably furnished and fully integrated into the digital age. The new Centre for Teaching and Learning, located on Saint Mary’s Field, is due to open for the 2019 academic year and will push forward the current boundaries of learning environments and technologies.

The Bill Bryson library is centrally located and well stocked with relevant Theology, Religion and Cultural Studies holdings with both the latest in academic research across these areas and a large collection of historical texts relating to Oriental religions. The Cathedral Sharp library has strong theological holdings and the nearby Ushaw library has around 30,000 early printed books and a major collection of archives and manuscripts, some of which formed part of the medieval monastic library of Durham Priory.