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Home>Study at York>Undergraduate>Courses>Philosophy (BA)

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

UCAS code


Typical offer

AAB (full entry requirements)


3 years full-time

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 2014.

Course content What you’ll study


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 exact course structure, and the modules we offer, may vary from year to year.

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. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.

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
  • Smaller specialised Option Modules, for example:
    • Effective Altruism
    • Consciousness
    • Rousseau
  • A small group tutorial module

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 a little from year to year; our current modules are:

  • Contemporary Moral Theory
  • German Idealism: Moral, Legal and Political Philosophy
  • Metaphysics of Mind
  • Personal Identity
  • Philosophy of Art: Hume to Tolstoy
  • Philosophy of Christianity
  • Philosophy of History
  • Philosophy of Physics
  • Topics in Indian Philosophy
  • Consciousness
  • Issues in Bioethics
  • Foundations of Maths
  • Heidegger
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Philosophy of Action
  • Philosophy of Emotions
  • Philosophy of Film
  • American Pragmatism
  • The Value and Meaning of Life
  • Special Subject: an independent research project

You can also choose some second year modules, a language module or an independent research project, and in each year you can 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 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.

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 2016.

Research Excellence Framework 2014

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

Teaching and assessment How you’ll be taught and assessed

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 - 15 students)
  • Tutorials
  • 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.


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.

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 2013.

Careers Where you’ll go from here

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.

Some graduates go on to further study. Of our recent graduates, over 28% have gone on to further academic study or professional training in areas including law and journalism.

Entry requirements How to get here

Course entry

You can study Philosophy at York as a single subject, in a joint degree course with a number of other subjects, or as part of a degree within the Schools of PEP, Natural Sciences or Social and Political Sciences. When you know which of our courses appeals to you, apply through UCAS.

Decisions are usually made on the basis of the UCAS form, although in some cases we may invite you to interview.

How to apply

A-levels and GCSEs

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

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

Other UK qualifications

Scottish Highers: AAAAB at Higher level

BTEC Extended Diploma: DDD

Cambridge Pre-U: D3 D3 M2

Access to HE Diploma: 30 credits at Distinction and 9 at Merit or higher

Please enquire about other UK qualifications.

International options

International Baccalaureate: 35 points

Please enquire about other international qualifications.

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

Unistats for this course

Enquire Contact our admissions tutor if you have any questions