Philosophy is a demanding and exciting intellectual activity. Philosophers ask fundamental questions aimed at gaining a clearer understanding of our own nature, and of the world we live in. In studying Philosophy you will engage constructively with the ideas of others, while carefully developing your own ideas and learning to defend them in the light of objections. You will grow and develop intellectually, while also developing valuable and transferable skills in analysis, imagination, problem solving and communication.
You might want to explore our answer to the question 'What is Philosophy?'; and the tabs to this page provide more information on our undergraduate courses. If you are interested in exploring philosophical issues in greater depth before applying to study with us, we have also collected some further ideas for reading.
When you choose to study Philosophy at the University of York you will be taught by a team of academic staff who are world leaders in their fields. Our seminar groups are smaller than in many other comparable university departments, and from day one you will find yourself in the active and lively world of Philosophy as it is actually practised, with experienced members of staff as your mentors and guides. Read more on Teaching and Learning
The department has a wide range of strengths, and we teach almost all areas of philosophy (see our list of research areas). Our degree course is designed to give you freedom to strike your preferred balance between breadth and depth. Many of our students study Single Honours Philosophy, but Philosophy is also very well suited for joint study alongside another subject and there are a wide range of joint honours degrees on offer, run in collaboration with other departments. Read more on Courses
The department has a strongly international character, and we greatly value the students and staff who join us from overseas. Located on a campus at the edge of an historic market town, the university has a quiet and collegial atmosphere, with all the benefits of the town close at hand. Read more on International Students
Our standard offer in Philosophy at York is usually AAB at A level (or equivalent). However, we consider each application individually, and take each applicant's individual circumstances into account. Read more on Applying
Learning Philosophy is primarily about doing Philosophy, not just passively absorbing information. The teaching process involves active participation from you. So our teaching aims to get you reading, thinking, questioning, discussing, and writing Philosophy yourself.
Before you can do Philosophy, you need to have some basic intellectual tools. Philosophy modules use various teaching methods to give you these tools: for example lectures, reading lists and online content.
Once you have the tools, we aim to facilitate your doing Philosophy. Again, we have various ways of doing this. Chief among them are tutorial and seminar discussions, and written assignments. Tutorials comprise 1-3 students and seminars 10-15, maximum. You will also engage in discussions in lectures and online discussion fora.
All along the way we will help you develop your philosophical skills by giving you feedback, both in writing and orally. Tutors are also available for further discussion during their feedback and advice hours.
The first year of the Philosophy degree is devoted to establishing fundamental competences. Students take a module on Beginning Philosophy, and core courses in Ethics, Ancient Philosophy, Reason and Argument, Knowledge and Perception, Metaphysics, and Early Modern Philosophy, while also undertaking a personal writing project.
Teaching during the first year largely takes place in lectures and seminars, with classes for the Reason and Argument module and some individual supervision for the Project Essay. The Beginning Philosophy module is partly taught with the help of online tutorials which students can take in their own time.
Students are often surprised that contact hours are relatively few compared to school or college. This is because Philosophy is not a subject that can be taught solely in formal classes; it must be practised. Readings in Philosophy often require a great deal of concentration, and students are expected to undertake a lot of private study, involving guided reading, thinking through the philosophical problems posed, and writing essays.
The modules undertaken in the first year are assessed by examination and essays. While first year marks do not count towards the final degree class, in order to progress to the second year students must achieve satisfactory performance in their first year modules. The exact rules for progression are given in our First Year Programme booklet.
While the first year aims to provide you with the basic tools, the second year offers you an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of areas of philosophical research in which you are particularly interested. Students follow a certain number of ‘pathways’ through the discipline, choosing from Mind and Language, Knowledge and Reality, Practical Philosophy, and History of Philosophy. In the second year, students are also offered a wide range of additional optional modules, which they can choose according to their own interests.
In your third year we encourage you to explore your own philosophical questions within the context of a wide choice of research-led modules. The choice of modules depends on the current research priorities of the academic staff and varies from year to year. A glance at previous third-year options provides an indicative guide as to what is on offer.
The modules provided for second and third year courses normally involve a mix of lectures, seminars and tutorials. The precise mix varies from one module to another since different teaching methods are more appropriate to different subjects. All modules involve a good deal of private study, as well as the submission of non-assessed written work on which students receive feedback from their tutor.
Under the University's general modular scheme, examinations and the deadlines for the submission of written work during the second and third years follow fairly closely after the term in which the module was studied, and there is no system of final examinations during the third term of the third year. Rather, your final degree results depend on the work you have done continuously during your second and third years.
The precise mix of examinations and essays which forms the basis for assessment is partly dependent upon your choice of modules. In the second year, many modules are assessed by examinations, but students can also choose some modules that are assessed by essays if they wish. In the third year, there is a wide selection of modules to choose from, most of which are assessed by essays.
The Department of Philosophy has links with many other departments, and is also part of School of Politics, Philosophy and Economics. You can take Philosophy on its own as a single subject or combine it with another. Below is a list of the various combinations of Philosophy offered here at York, together with their UCAS code and a link to a detailed course description:
|Course title||Qualification||Duration||UCAS Code|
|Combined programmes in the School of Politics, Economics and Philosophy|
|Economics/Philosophy (Equal)||BA||3 years||LV15|
|Philosophy/Politics (Equal)||BA||3 years||VL52|
|Philosophy, Politics and Economics||BA||3 years||L0V0|
|Combined programmes with other departments|
|Computer Science/Philosophy (Equal)||BSc||3 years||GV45|
|Computer Science/Philosophy (Equal)||MEng||4 years||GV4M|
|Computer Science/Philosophy (Equal) with a year in industry||BSc||4 years||GVK5|
|Computer Science/Philosophy (Equal) with a year in industry||MEng||5 years||GV4R|
|English/Philosophy (Equal)||BA||3 years||QV35|
|French/Philosophy (Equal)||BA||4 years||RV15|
|German/Philosophy (Equal)||BA||4 years||RV25|
|History/Philosophy (Equal)||BA||3 years||VV15|
|Mathematics/Philosophy (Equal)||BSc||3 years||GV15|
|Philosophy/Linguistics (Equal)||BA||3 years||VQ51|
|Philosophy/Sociology (Equal)||BA||3 years||VL53|
|Physics/Philosophy with a year in Europe||BSc||4 years|
|Physics with Philosophy||MPhys||4 years||F3VM|
The Department of Philosophy has a strongly international character, and we greatly value the students (and staff) who join us from overseas. Since it is often difficult for overseas applicants to attend Open Days, we are happy to arrange individual visits to the Department. Please email Carol Dixon if you want to discuss such a visit.
We realise that there are a wide range of forms of assessment in use worldwide, and we will be able to interpret these with respect to our own entrance requirements where the university does not recognise the awarding body itself. Some common European entry requirements for Single Honours Philosophy are provided under the page on applying for Single Honours Philosophy; for other courses of study, including joint honours, please see the courses tab. If you require further information, please contact the Department of Philosophy, or the university’s International Students’ Office, which maintains information for prospective international students.
Each year the University offers a number of scholarships for overseas students which reduce the costs for students who pay fees at the overseas rate. For details about these scholarships please see Scholarships for overseas students.
Visiting undergraduate students
Visiting undergraduate students are most welcome in the Department of Philosophy. Please make your application to visit us via the University's page on Visiting Students. For details of what subjects are currently on offer in the Department of Philosophy, see the modules available for the current year.
Most years we admit about 150 students overall, in all combinations, to the study of Philosophy at an undergraduate level.
In the case of school-leavers with A-levels, we normally expect three good passes. Our standard offer is AAB, both for Philosophy Single Honours and for those combinations in which Philosophy is the main component.
For those with other qualifications the level of our conditional offer is broadly comparable: e.g. we ask for ABBBB in Scottish Highers or the Irish Leaving Certificate; for a score of 35 in the International Baccalaureate; a distinction in AGNVQ plus six additional AGNVQ units or A/AS level studies, Grade A; etc.
There are no specific subjects which are regarded as essential qualifications for the study of Philosophy, though a mix of science and arts subjects is the ideal combination. Except for English and Philosophy (QV35) and History and Philosophy (VV15), an A-level in General Studies is considered of equivalent merit to any other A-level, provided the grade achieved is comparable. Previous study of Philosophy (e.g. at A-level or AS level) is helpful but is not given special precedence, though it is important that all applicants should inform themselves about the general aim and content of an undergraduate course in Philosophy.
Decisions concerning offers of places are usually made on the basis of the UCAS form. Interviews are only used in special circumstances. Those who receive an offer of a place will normally receive an invitation to attend a Departmental Visit Day at York at which they can ask questions about the course and the University, meet students and staff, and look around the university campus and the city of York.
You can obtain further details by writing to:
Dr. Dorothea Debus, Admissions Tutor, Department of Philosophy, University of York, Heslington, York Y010 5DD, UK
or email Dorothea at email@example.com.
In general, mature students studying Philosophy at York have performed better than the average for all Philosophy students, and we recognise that they make a special contribution to the life of the Department.
The Department of Philosophy therefore especially welcomes applications from mature candidates and is normally prepared to modify the entrance requirements for them. We usually admit several mature students each year, from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of qualifications, including diplomas from Ruskin and Harlech Colleges and Access and Foundation course credits, as well as conventional A-levels. If you would like to enquire informally before you apply through UCAS, please email Dr. Dorothea Debus, the admissions tutor, with brief details of your experience and qualifications.
We generally have several students from overseas, from the EU, from North America and from further afield, and applications from overseas candidates are very welcome. For more information, please see the International Students tab.
For more information, please contact the Admissions Tutor, Dr. Dorothea Debus