Philosophy PhD


Fact file

PhD Philosophy
3 years full-time, 6 years part-time
Entry requirements
MA with merit (or international equivalent) in philosophy or related subject.
7.0 (6.0) If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Other requirements

Research overview

The department offers supervision for PhD students in a wide range of subject areas, reflecting the expertise of its academic staff.

The PhD course involves a minimum of two years full-time (four years part-time) directed research within the University, at the end of which students will produce a dissertation in their chosen area of research of normally about 80,000 words. 

To give you some idea of the range of subjects that have been supervised at PhD level in the past, successful PhDs have had titles such as these:

  • Time, Truth, & Ontology: A Defence of Thisness Presentism
  • Private Worlds in Public Places
  • Talking Metaphors: Metaphors and the Philosophy of Language
  • Hume’s Naturalism and Scepticism
  • Making Sense of Reasons: Prospects for an Interpretivist Account of Practical Reasons

Areas in which dissertations are currently being written include metaethics, causation, modality, moral responsibility, the philosophy of action, and medical ethics.

In metaphysics, the department has particular strengths in the topics of identity, dispositions, causation, modality, essentialism, time, truthmaking, laws of nature, causation, free will and determinism.

In ethics, there is strength in normative theory (especially consequentialism) and metaethics (especially particularism).

In mind, there is particular interest in mental causation and personal identity.

In aesthetics, there is special expertise in philosophy of music.

In philosophy of language, there is expertise in indexicals, theory of reference, and speech acts.

Other areas of philosophy in which expert supervision can be offered are formal and philosophical logic, political and legal philosophy, and philosophy of science (including the philosophy of medicine). This list is not exhaustive.



  • The University library has excellent resources, including online access to many philosophical texts and leading philosophical journals.
  • Hard copies of many leading philosophical journals (such as Mind, The Journal of Philosophy, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research) are held for departmental use in the Humanities building.
  • Postgraduate research students study area with networked PCs and printers.
  • Weekly postgraduate seminars and departmental research seminars provide a lively research environment.
  • During their PhD studies, many PhD students are able to take up the opportunities for training and employment as teaching assistants offered by the department.

Research support

There is a strong research culture here in the department at Nottingham. The formal aspects of this include a weekly research seminar where members of the department and outside speakers read papers (speakers in recent years have included Helen Beebee, Jeff McMahan, Antony Duff, Katherine Hawley, Brad Hooker, and Helen Yetter-Chappell) and a postgraduate seminar organised and run by the students themselves.

Informal aspects of our vibrant research culture include our open door policy. Postgraduate students are very welcome to drop in and discuss their current work with any members of staff should they be available. Workshops, conferences, and reading groups often run in the department, and any interested postgraduate students are encouraged to participate. Postgraduate students can expect to be made to feel at home in the department. The effect of this strong and supportive research culture has been demonstrated in the success of our postgraduate students in publishing in major journals. Our current and recent postgraduates have published in Mind, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, Philosophical Studies, Analysis, Oxford Studies in Metaphysics, and Ratio.

Such publication records equip our research students well for the philosophy job market, as well as providing evidence of commitment and excellence for those considering career routes outside of academia. Research students also have access to an extensive range of training courses provided by the Graduate School.

A number of University support services exist to assist you during your time at Nottingham and beyond. The Students' Union is a particularly important source of support.

View the Department of Philosophy's current postgraduate research projects.


Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. 

Details of research supervisors can be found on the Department website.



UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities at least a year in advance of the start date. At the links below you can find information about:

The information on these pages provides basic details about funding available from The University of Nottingham and external sources. The University also has a funding website which you can search. If you have any questions please contact us.

The Midlands3Cities Doctoral Training Partnership  supports the personal and professional development of the next generation of arts and humanities doctoral researchers. Studentships are available to UK/EU students.

View University of Nottingham supervision areas and Midlands3Cities application procedures

The Partnership is a collaboration between the universities of Nottingham, Nottingham Trent, Leicester, De Montfort, Birmingham and Birmingham City.


Government loans for doctoral study

The Government plans to introduce doctoral student loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent research programmes from 2018. Applicants must ordinarily live in England and more details are expected to be announced in due course.

Doctoral training programmes

Linked to research councils, doctoral training programmes offer funding opportunities connected to our research priorities.

International and EU students

Research scholarships are available for outstanding international and EU students. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure your course application is submitted in good time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.



Visit the School page for additional opportunities

Average starting salary and career progression

According to independent research, Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers* and over 2,000 employers approach the University every year with a view to recruiting our students. 

In 2016, 93% of postgraduates in the Faculty of Arts who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £23,871 with the highest being £45,000**

* The Graduate Market in 2013-2016, High Fliers Research. 

** Known destinations of full-time home higher degree postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, and also will benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service. Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia.


Related courses


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Postgraduate Admissions Officer
Department of Philosophy
University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD 

Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
f: +44 (0) 115 951 5812
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry