Accessibility statement

Aims and objectives of the Department of Philosophy


The full aims of our specific programmes are outlined in the individual programme specifications (see links above), so are not repeated here, though a summary picking out key points is provided below.

In all our programmes, a guiding, overarching aim is to provide students with an appreciation of the value of philosophical enquiry, and with the skills they need for critical engagement in life, whatever they choose to do post graduation. In John Locke’s words, “The business of education … is not to make them perfect in any one of the Sciences, but so to open and dispose their Minds as may best make them capable of any, when they shall apply themselves to it.”

Core aims of our undergraduate programmes are:

  1. to equip students with key skills of a humanities education, including the ability to write clearly and effectively, to analyse carefully, to reason correctly, and to exercise critical judgement, which can be applied in subsequent careers 
  2. to help students develop as independent thinkers and lifelong learners 
  3. to introduce students to the study of philosophy primarily in the Western tradition, and to the demands of philosophical inquiry 
  4. to provide the opportunity to study the main areas of the subject

In addition, there are more specific aims for our various combined degrees in relation to mastery of the other subject studied. Joint degree combinations are chosen with a view to natural overlaps between Philosophy and the other subject(s), and a general aim of combined degrees is that students, through mastery of core areas in two (or, in the case of PPE, three) disciplines, will be equipped to think critically about their areas of intersection.

Our 4-year Integrated Masters degrees aim further to develop more advanced and specialised knowledge of the subjects involved, as well as providing project development and management skills, suitable as preparation for research degrees or for subject-related careers.


Again, our detailed learning outcomes for specific programmes are available in our programme specifications, so are not repeated in full here. Instead, key objectives are summarised below.

Students graduating from our undergraduate degrees should leave our programmes with:

A. Knowledge and understanding of the main areas

  • of Western philosophy and its history,
  • of philosophical terminology,
  • of the key features of philosophical practice.

B(i). Discipline-specific skills:

Students should be able to:

  • engage critically in philosophical debate both verbally and in their writing, using the tools of critical analysis to present and critique the arguments of others, and to formulate persuasive arguments in defence of their own views. 

B(ii). Transferable skills:

Students should be able to:

  • think and write clearly and carefully about complex issues and arguments; 
  • access appropriate resources, e.g., via the internet; 
  • manage their time and workload; 
  • take a self-reflective attitude to their own professional and personal development. 

C. Experience and other attributes:

Students will have experience of:

  • engaged membership of an intellectual community in which curiosity, rigour, intellectual honesty, imagination, and scholarship are valued and cultivated. 

Students in our Combined Honours degrees will also develop skills specific to their other subject(s), as outlined in individual programme specifications, and an appreciation of the relation between their two (or three) subjects.

Students in our Integrated Masters degrees will also develop preliminary skills in independent research at an advanced level.