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BA (Hons) Philosophy

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

2018/19 entry

UCAS code


Institution code



3 years full-time (plus optional placement year)

Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

UK/EU fees

£9,250 per year (2018/19)

International fees

£16,620 per year (2018/19)

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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'.

Happy students

We're highest scoring among the Russell Group for overall satisfaction with 95% (NSS 2017).

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.

Our current first year modules include:

  • Ancient Philosophy introduces the philosophy of ancient Greece.
  • Reason and Argument introduces you to the language of logic, and how it can be used to clarify philosophical problems.
  • Ethics explores the three main branches of moral philosophy: the nature of morality, ethical systems and specific moral dilemmas.
  • Knowledge and Perception considers questions about the nature of knowledge, how we get it and whether we can be sure that we have it!
  • Early Modern Philosophy guides you through work by philosophers of the 17th and 18th century, addressing issues that are still actively debated.
  • Metaphysics explores questions about the fundamental nature of reality.
  • The First Year Project involves researching the ideas of a major philosopher.
  • Beginning Philosophy introduces a wide range of philosophical topics and the skills required to study at university level.

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 choose from:

  • A range of Key Ideas modules, looking in more depth at topics in:
    • Theoretical Philosophy, for example:
      • Philosophy of Science
      • Philosophy of Mind
      • Logic
    • Value, for example
      • History of Ethics
      • Philosophy of Art
      • Religious Ethics
    • The history of philosophy, for example:
      • Nietzsche
      • Kant
      • Aristotle

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 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 modules include:

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

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees

UK/EU International
£9,250 £16,620

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 accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

Extend your experience

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

“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 work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. 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 1200 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 newly built Spring Lane Building, Vanbrugh and Alcuin colleges.

Course location

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.

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

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.

Entry requirements

Qualification Grade
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

English language

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

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

Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): grade A

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C

GCSE/IGCSE/O level English Language (as a first language): grade C


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

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Department of Philosophy

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