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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses 2019/20>Philosophy (BA)

BA (Hons) Philosophy

Consider fundamental questions about our own nature, and that of the world we live in

Year of entry: 2019

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB or ABB + EPQ (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2019/20)

International fees

£17,120 per year (2019/20)

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Philosophy is an engaging yet demanding activity that will challenge your thinking, giving you a greater understanding of your own nature and that of the world around you. You will need genuine intellectual curiosity and a willingness to carefully weigh up different points of view.

We will give you the tools to think seriously and independently about major philosophical questions. Studying original texts from great minds both past and present you will learn to form, develop and defend your own answers.

Along the way you will develop valuable skills in reasoning, analysis, creative problem-solving and communication, equipping you for a wide range of careers.

The quality of the teaching and the variety of the modules available is fantastic. Philosophy as a degree covers so many topics so it's brilliant that York offers so many of them, normally with lecturers who are currently doing research in those areas. Teaching is always of a high standard and challenging - in a good way!
Josephine, Philosophy graduate

REF 2014

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework assessment, 96% of the Department's research activity was rated as 'internationally recognised'.

Course content

Taught by world-leading experts and with the opportunity to gain a solid grounding in the latest research, Philosophy at York enables you to become an independent scholar, growing and developing intellectually.

You have a wide range of options to choose from, reflecting the expertise of a large and diverse department. We offer modules in all the central areas of philosophy and you can tailor your degree to reflect your own areas of interest. The modules on offer may change from year to year. In each year you can also take ‘elective’ modules offered by other departments. 

Study abroad

There are a number of Study Abroad options for Philosophy students at York, in Europe, North America and further afield. Some of the many opportunities are described here:


Once you're at York, you can apply to spend a year in Beijing on our '3+1' programme. After two years at York you'll study at Peking University (PKU) for one year, before returning home for your final year. PKU is one of China's top educational institutions. Teaching is in English, so you won't need to be fluent in Chinese before you go.

We hope to expand this scheme to include other overseas universities, though entry may be competitive. Contact us for further details.

Year 1

In first year we will ensure that you gain a firm grounding in philosophy by teaching you how to study, think and write philosophically and develop your skills in reasoning and argument. We will introduce you to some of the central areas of Philosophy and challenge you to form your own opinions about the bigger questions. You'll explore ethics, be introduced to the language of logic, and question the fundamental nature of reality. You'll consider questions about the nature of knowledge, how we get it, and whether we can be sure that we have it! You'll have the opportunity to cover philosophy from ancient Greece, to the 17th and 18th century, to the contemporary. In your First Year Project you'll research the ideas of a major philosopher who has shaped historical or current debates. You'll develop critical and presentation skills, and pursue your own independent research. 

Our current first year modules include:

You can also choose to study a foreign language or a module from another department instead of some of these modules.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module.

Year 2

In the second year you'll take 120 credits, and you'll choose from a range of Key Ideas modules, and option modules. 

Key Ideas modules (20 credits)

These modules look in more depth at topics in theoretical, value, and the history of philosophy. You'll take at least one module from each topic list. You can take up to five modules from Key Ideas in total.

Theoretical Philosophy

Value in Philosophy

History of Philosophy

Option modules (10 credits each)

You'll take two option modules - one option module in Term 3, and another in a term of your choice. Current options include the following, among others:

Other choices for modules 

You may take 20 credits in an elective module offered by another department, or a Languages For All module.

You may replace one Key Ideas module and one option module with either History of Political Thought (30 credits) or Contemporary Political Philosophy (30 credits).

Modules may change from year to year, but all will help you to develop the knowledge, understanding, and skills that you'll use in more specialised investigations in your third year.

Year 3

In the third year you'll study 120 credits. You can specialise further, choosing from a wide range of modules based in our latest research, enabling you to tailor your degree to your particular interests. Modules will vary from year to year. Our current 20-credit modules include the following, among others:

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.

Learning by design

Every course at York has been designed to provide clear and ambitious learning outcomes. These learning outcomes give you an understanding of what you will be able to do at the end of the course. We develop each course by designing modules that grow your abilities towards the learning outcomes and help you to explain what you can offer to employers. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Understand and explain key issues across a wide range of philosophy, including at the forefront of contemporary work, and communicate complex ideas in clear, precise, and accessible terms.
  • Develop and articulate a range of alternative solutions to problems in an open-minded and imaginative way. Establish ways of making progress in answering questions even where it is unclear in the first instance how to proceed or what the standards for a good answer to the question might be.
  • Develop and articulate systematic, logical arguments for and against the alternative solutions considered in relation to a particular problem, subjecting key concepts and principles to critical scrutiny and presenting the best case that can be made.
  • Make a measured judgement about what is the best view on a particular problem and present a sustained line of argument in defence of this judgement based on careful consideration of what can be said for and against the proposed solutions.
  • Work effectively and productively as a thinker and learner, individually and in collaboration with others, planning and scheduling, seeking help where appropriate, initiating and pursuing projects, and working collaboratively in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding.
  • Amend and develop practice as a thinker and learner in the light of critical reflection, advice, and feedback, identify strengths and weaknesses, and develop strategies for making improvements in performance.
  • Demonstrate informed sensitivity to cultural and historical context in interpreting and responding to the work and ideas of others.
  • Critically engage with social, political, cultural, ethical, and value issues to contribute to the solution of key contemporary problems by applying philosophical methods and insights.
Without exception the modules I took throughout my degree were interesting and challenging, encouraging me to think differently about the problems we were presented with. Philosophy has had a huge impact on my perception of myself and the world and has influenced the way I think through and approach decisions.
Cecily, Philosophy graduate

Extend your experience

The student-run Philosophy Society is a vibrant and social way to extend your interest in philosophy.

Fees and funding

The fees and funding figures below are for 2019 entry. If you take a year abroad or year in industry you'll pay a reduced rate of fees for that year.

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £17,120

Additional costs

This course gives a great deal of flexibility in terms of the modules you may choose to study, because of this and the fact that available modules change each year, we are only able to give you an estimate of additional costs that must be met. Course books will be available from the library, and online reading packs are available for most modules. If you choose reading group modules you may need your own copy of the book, each typically costing between £10 - £20. It is unlikely that you would take more than two or three such modules in any year.

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK, EU or international student.

Fees for subsequent years

  • UK/EU: further increases within the government fee cap will apply in subsequent academic years. We will notify you of any increase as soon as we can.
  • International: fees for international students are subject to annual increases. Increases are currently capped at 2% per annum.

More information

For more information about tuition fees, any reduced fees for study abroad and work placement years, scholarships, tuition fee loans, maintenance loans and living costs see undergraduate fees and funding.


We offer a number of scholarships to help cover tuition fees and living costs.

Home/EU students

International students

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

There is a culture of openness that really characterises the department. No matter how experienced my lecturers were, I always felt as though my thoughts really mattered. This to me was the single most important aspect of my academic studies - it has given me the ability to not only have an opinion, but feel confident in expressing my opinions.
Furhaad, Philosophy graduate
Teaching Excellence Framework Gold Award

“Students from all backgrounds achieve consistently outstanding outcomes”

The TEF Panel, Office for Students, June 2018

Our Gold Teaching Excellence Framework award demonstrates our commitment to the delivery of consistently outstanding teaching and learning for our students.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll study and learn with academics who are active researchers, experts in their field and have a passion for their subjects. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

Studying Philosophy is different from many other degrees; you need to be an active participant in your own learning, asking questions and evaluating your own responses and those of others. You will take part in discussions with your peers and academic staff and develop your knowledge and skills through:

  • Small group seminars (12 - 20 students)
  • Reading groups
  • Lectures
  • Written work with written feedback
  • Visiting speakers

Every member of staff has a 'Feedback and Advice Time' every week, and students are actively encouraged to use this opportunity for one-to-one contact and informal discussion.

Overall workload

As a guide, students on this course typically spend their time as follows:

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars168 hours180 hours132 hours

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

The rest of your time on the course will be spent on independent study. This may include preparation for lectures and seminars, follow-up work, wider reading, practice completion of assessment tasks, or revision.

Everyone learns at a different rate, so the number of hours will vary from person to person. In UK higher education the expectation is that full-time students will spend 1,200 hours a year learning.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Philosophy on Campus West. Most of your teaching will take place at various locations across Campus West including the Spring Lane Building, Vanbrugh and Alcuin colleges.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You will be assessed by a combination of essays and examinations. The balance of assessment depends upon the modules you choose but we aim to have a fairly equal balance in the first and second year, with third year modules mostly assessed by essay. The Year 1 module Beginning Philosophy is partly assessed by an online test and the first year project involves an informal presentation.

We give feedback on your ideas in class, and provide written feedback on all your submitted work.

Percentage of the course typically assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams45%33%0%

The figures above are based on data from 2016/17.

Careers and skills

Philosophy develops skills that are in great demand by employers and graduates have a lot of choice when it comes to which career path they follow.

Career opportunities

Previous Philosophy graduates have gone on to a range of careers including in:

  • Central and local government
  • Charities
  • Finance
  • IT management
  • Media
  • Private sector management.

Transferable skills

Studying Philosophy develops skills highly sought after by employers including:

  • Analytical and critical thinking
  • Constructing and defending a coherent argument
  • Grasping complex ideas
  • Creative problem-solving.
Philosophy is an incredibly versatile degree - helping you to develop skills such as problem solving, analysis, creativity, writing skills. Add to this typical degree skills of conducting, research, working to deadlines and condensing information; you’re basically a force to be reckoned with. You are capable of doing pretty much anything from finance, marketing to law or politics.
Hannah, Philosophy and Politics

Read more from Hannah.

Entry requirements

Qualification Typical offer
A levels

AAB or equivalent (A*BB, A*AC) or

ABB or equivalent and pass in EPQ (extended project qualification). There is no restriction on the topic for your EPQ. 

We will accept General Studies or Critical Thinking, but not both.

Access to Higher Education Diploma 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit or higher
BTEC BTEC National Extended Diploma: DDD
Cambridge Pre-U D3 D3 M2
International Baccalaureate 35 points
Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers AAAAB at Higher level

If you achieve a pass at EPQ, you will be eligible for a reduced offer, one grade below our typical offer.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

IELTS: 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each component

PTE Academic: 61, with a minimum of 55 in each component

C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency: 176, with a minimum of 169 in each component

TOEFL: 87 overall, with a minimum of 21 in Listening, 21 in Reading, 21 in Speaking, 21 in Writing

Trinity ISE III: Merit in all components

For more information see our undergraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current IELTS scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


To apply to York, you will need to complete an online application via UCAS (the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service).

Next steps

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Department of Philosophy

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