Triangle Skip to content
Exit nav

Course overview

Philosophy can be transformative. You can do it for its own sake as well as for its ability to shape lives, institutions, and society.

You might be full of curiosity and wonder, anger and injustice, confusion or a desire to make sense of yourself and the world. Philosophy covers all these bases. And more.

The first year gives you a solid foundation in the essentials of ethics, reasoning and logic. You also explore philosophies beyond the Western tradition and learn how to apply philosophy to contemporary problems.

In later years you're free to choose from our unusually wide range of optional topics. You can:

  • explore crime and justice, race and gender, politics and religion
  • examine emerging areas like environmental and social philosophy
  • investigate global philosophical traditions - Western, Indian and Chinese
  • take our new modules on sex, illness, recreation, and mental health

Philosophy trains you to argue persuasively and think deeply. Philosophy at Nottingham doesn't stop there. We also want you to live good lives and have good jobs. Our unique Communicating Philosophy module lets you work with professionals such as lawyers and journalists and apply your new philosophical skills to a range of careers.

Your department

Find out more about what it’s like to study in the Department of Philosophy.

Philosophy in a time of pandemic

We recently asked our students to address the pandemic using their philosophy skills. Here's some of the fantastic and thought-provoking essays they wrote.

Why choose this course?

  • Learn the knowledge, skills and confidence to philosophise for yourself
  • No set programme - build a degree that suits your interests across our especially diverse curriculum
  • Learn to apply your skills to a wide range of professions
  • Take modules in other subjects - tackle a topic from a different angle, learn something new or keep another passion alive
  • Enhance your CV with our work experience opportunities
  • Options to study abroad - experience living and learning philosophy in a different culture

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level AAB/A*BB
IB score 34

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

You can also access this course through a Foundation Year. This may be suitable if you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

We all know from recent experience that the world is too often complicated and difficult. Philosophy at its best helps us understand and cope with the world. At Nottingham, we teach in that spirit.

Different types of philosophy suit different methods of teaching. You might get involved in small-group study of texts or learn alternative styles of presentation - from press releases to legal briefs.

Teaching quality and support

Our staff know that philosophy can deal with complicated and sensitive ideas and take pride in their teaching:

  • we've been awarded three Lord Dearing Awards in the past five years. Nominated by students and other academics they recognise outstanding student learning
  • in the latest National Student Survey 95% of students surveyed agreed that staff were good at explaining things - we know how to teach in-depth concepts
  • over 90% of our staff have recognised teaching qualifications (Advance HE, PGCHE)

If you have worries about your work we won't wait for them to become problems. You'll have a personal tutor who will support your academic progress and help find solutions to any issues.

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops

How you will be assessed

A combination of essays and exams are the norm for most modules. Weekly reading summaries, presentations and online quizzes and tests may also be used by individual lecturers.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

We provide a structure of lectures, seminars and tutorials around which you organise other study and commitments. Our minimum expected contact time with you is:

  • Year one - 12 hours
  • Year two - 10 hours
  • Year three - 8 hours

Weekly tutorial support and the accredited Nottingham Advantage Award provide further optional learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

In addition, we have an “open door” policy so your lecturers can be available outside your scheduled contact time to help you study and develop. This can be in person and online.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive self-study. This will include course reading, seminar preparation and group study with course mates. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture may have up to 200 students attending while a specialised seminar may contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will be from our academic staff, many of whom are internationally recognised in their fields.

Study abroad

Nottingham's a global university so we support a range of opportunities for you to study abroad.

In the past five years over 1,500 of our students have benefitted from living and learning in a different culture. And boosted their CVs for prospective employers.

You've a range of options - from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad.

We've a dedicated team to help you with the practicalities and many opportunities mean you pay reduced fees.

If you need support for your language skills before you go our Language Centre will have resources to help.

Explore your study abroad opportunities

Placements

Become 'workplace-ready' with our work placement module. It helps you develop skills and experience that allow you to stand out to potential employers.

Our successful and long-running Philosophy in Schools project gives volunteers:

  • experience of team working
  • training on how to deliver philosophy
  • classroom practice

You also have access to a wide range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Modules

We know everyone comes from a variety of backgrounds and experiences so our first year:

  • ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive
  • is designed to help you connect to and build relationships with your fellow students

You will take 120 credits-worth of modules split as follows: 

  • Core modules (40 credits) –  act as an introduction to degree-level philosophy
  • Optional philosophy modules (40-80 credits) – explore established philosophical thinking and how philosophy can operate in contemporary societies
  • Optional modules in other subjects (0-40 credits) – an opportunity to approach a philosophy topic from another angle, explore an unrelated passion or develop your language skills.

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification. 

Core modules

Mind, Knowledge, and Ethics

This module covers issues in ethics, epistemology, and the philosophy of mind.

Topics might include:

  • the mind body problem
  • the nature of persons
  • perception
  • knowledge
  • free will
  • the nature of ethics
  • normative theories
  • the problem of moral motivation
  • the nature of ethical judgements
Reasoning, Argument, and Logic

Ideas are at the heart of philosophy. Creating them, arguing your case and defending your thinking is a core skill. Equally, being able to interrogate other people's arguments is essential. The knowledge, skills and tools to do this can be learnt. And that's what we'll do together in this module.

We'll help you to:

  • understand the nature and structure of arguments
  • acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others
  • improve your ability to present your own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner, particularly in essays

Philosophy isn't just about opinions and arguments. It's also about clear proof. So we'll also develop some knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary.

As a core first year module it will help you develop some of the key skills you need to philosophise with confidence.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional modules

Metaphysics, Science, and Language

This module will cover topics from each of Metaphysics, Epistemology and the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of language. Indicative questions include:

  • metaphysics – why is there something rather than nothing? Does it make sense to talk of a telos, or purpose, to the universe? Is the universe deterministic, or is there chance
  • philosophy of science – is science the guide to all of reality? Is there a scientific method
  • philosophy of language – what is truth? Is truth relative? Does language create reality?
Philosophy of Religions

All religions have a distinctive philosophical framework. Together we'll look at some of the common concerns such as:

  • the variety of conceptions of ultimate reality
  • goals for the spiritual life
  • the nature of religious experience
  • the relations of religion and morality
  • explanations of suffering and evil
  • human nature and continuing existence after death

As there is such a range of beliefs we'll also look at the problems of religious diversity.

Some of the sources we draw on might include (but is not limited to):

  • atheists - Feuerbach, Nietzsche
  • Buddhists - Śāntideva, Dōgen, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Christians - Augustine, Pascal, Weil
  • Hindus - such as the writers of the Upanisads and Shankara
  • Jews - Spinoza, Buber
  • Muslims - Mulla Sadra, Nasr
  • Taoists - Zhuangzi

More contemporary thinkers might also be included.

With such a wide range of issues and traditions the exact mix will vary - each year will focus on a few key thinkers and themes.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Philosophy and the Contemporary World

Philosophy can teach us to ask hard questions and help change the world for the better. 

We'll help you develop the skills to critically understand and constructively engage with a wide range of contemporary issues. Together we'll tackle topics relevant to university life and wider society. You should finish the module with a greater understanding of:

  • the value of philosophical thinking in relation to the contemporary world
  • using key philosophical arguments, concepts and methods in everyday contexts

Possible topics we'll look at

  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Why value free speech?
  • Censorship and pornography
  • Race and Racism
  • Sexual identities
  • Disability
  • Implicit bias
  • People, animals and the environment
  • Migration and refugees
  • Drugs and sport
  • Ethics and artificial intelligence
  • Mental illness

This module is worth 20 credits.

History of Philosophy

Philosophy develops, confronts and destroys previous thinking. It reinforces the status quo and acts as a foundation for revolution. It's a product of its time and helps to shape the future.

Together we'll become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas and thinkers that have shaped philosophy. And you'll come to understand how and why these ideas arose and developed in response to wider contexts and movements.

Influential thinkers might include:

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Ibn-Tufayl and Ibn-Rushd
  • Montaigne, Locke and Wollstonecraft
  • Marx and Gandhi
  • Fanon, Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Murdoch

Particular topics might include:

  • ancient Greek conceptions of the good life
  • reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy
  • medieval philosophy
  • existentialism
  • Afro-Caribbean philosophy

You won't be taught whether any of these thinkers and thoughts were right. But by the end of the module you'll be able to recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on both sides of each philosophical issue.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Gender, Justice, and Society
  • What is institutional racism?
  • What do feminists mean when they say, 'The personal is political'?
  • Are borders unjust?
  • Are direct action and criminal damage legitimate forms of protest?

These are just some of the questions you'll think about on this module.

We'll take a critical look at some of the answers given by thinkers across the political spectrum, from right-wing libertarians like Robert Nozick to socialist anarchists like Emma Goldman.

We'll also look at some of the political contexts in which these questions have been asked and answered. This might include the:

  • Peterloo Massacre
  • civil rights movement
  • invention of the police
  • Paris Commune of 1871
  • Black Lives Matter and Youth Strike4Climate movements

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Friday 26 February 2021.

There are no compulsory modules in year two – you are free to follow existing interests or explore new topics.

You'll also be able to gain experience and develop your CV and with our Work Placement module.

You will take 120 credits of modules split as follows:

  • Optional philosophy modules (80-120 credits)
  • Optional modules in other subjects (0-40 credits)

You must pass year two which counts approximately one third towards your final degree classification. 

Optional modules

Social Philosophy

This module addresses issues in social metaphysics and social epistemology. We will examine the metaphysics of social kinds and explore different accounts of social kinds that have been offered. We will also examine how the fact that we are situated in a social world can affect what we can or cannot know or understand about ourselves, each other, and the social world itself. We will also address ethical and/or political issues that arise once we take account of social metaphysics and social epistemology.

In particular, we might consider whether there are special kinds of injustices that arise due to our social reality. What is epistemic injustice and how does it relate to social injustice? How do certain privileged groups structure the social world that create and maintain privilege and patterns of ignorance that perpetuate that privilege? What are some obligations that we have, given metaphysical and epistemological concerns we have explored? 

Topics in Asian Philosophy

This module explores some of the major figures, texts, and schools of the philosophical traditions of India, China, and Japan. The Asian traditions address familiar philosophical themes - in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics - but often approach them in ways that may seem unfamiliar. Studying them can challenge our culturally inherited presuppositions in instructive ways, as well as illuminating the history and current state of those cultures - an important thing in an age when many Westerners are ‘looking East’.

Topics may include:

  • Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Hinduism
  • the Analects, Bhagavad Gita, and Zhuangzi
  • the relationship between morality and religion
  • etiquette, ethics and aesthetics
  • the nature of ultimate reality and the good life
  • the relation of Asian philosophies to the Western tradition
Freedom and Obligation
  • Are you obliged to obey the law even when you disagree with it?
  • What features must a state have in order to be legitimate?

In this module we will approach these classic questions of political philosophy by examining the work of a number of important past political philosophers. This might include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau but this isn't a fixed list - it may vary according to particular issues and student input.

We will look at both:

  • why the thinkers' works have been open to different interpretations
  • evaluate their arguments under these different interpretations

This module is worth 20 credits.

Mind and Consciousness

Where does the mind meet the world? In sensory perception.

By perceiving, we become conscious of a reality beyond our minds. Or do we?

Mind and Consciousness explores perception and perceptual consciousness.

It asks question such as:

  • Do we really perceive a world beyond our minds?
  • What are the theories of perception and perceptual consciousness?
  • How do we distinguish different senses – what makes seeing different from hearing?
  • Can our perceptions be biased? Do our prejudices change the way we see things?
  • Is dreaming perceiving, or does it belong to another category of mind like imagining?

By the end of this module, you'll be able to:

  • understand the main positions in the philosophy of perception
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

Normative Ethics

We all have opinions about moral matters. But for most of us, our moral opinions are not very well-organised. Indeed, upon reflection we may discover that some of our beliefs about morality are inconsistent. One of the main projects of moral theorising over the past few hundred years has been the attempt to systematically denominate right and wrong actions.

In this module you will examine some of these, including consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. 

Being, Becoming and Reality

We look at some fundamental metaphysical questions about the cosmos. A selection of the following topics will be studied:

  • Objects: concrete vs. abstract; existence and nothingness
  • Sets and mereology
  • Properties, Property bearers, Relations
  • States of affairs and non-mereological composition
  • Modality (including counterfactuals) and possible worlds
  • Time, persistence, change, and the non-present
Philosophy of Art
  • What is art?
  • Is there a relationship between art and ethics?
  • What is the relationship between art and emotion?

Together we'll explore these philosophical issues and more. By the end of the module you'll:

  • have a good awareness of many of the critical debates in the philosophy of art
  • recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on the issues

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Nature of Meaning

The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell (including the theory of descriptions), and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences.

In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as 'I', 'now', and 'here'. Some of the skills acquired in Elementary Logic will be applied in this module.

Knowledge and Justification

This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following:

  • The structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence (foundationalism vs. coherentism; internalism vs.externalism; evidentialism)
  • The justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification
  • The relation between your evidence and what you know
  • The natures of perceptual experience and perceptual knowledge
  • Safety and contextualist theories of knowledge
  • Moore's response to scepticism
  • Testimonial knowledge, "virtue" epistemology and its relation to "reliabilist" epistemology
Continental Philosophy

This module will introduce the European tradition of philosophical thinking prevalent over the past two centuries. It will begin with an introduction to the influence of Kant and Hegel and recurrent characteristics of European thought, before turning to focus on representative texts by key thinkers.

Texts for more in- depth study might include, for example: Ludwig Feuerbach’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future; Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution; Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols; Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time; Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition; and Luce Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman.

Emphasis will be placed on the different images of thought at work in European philosophical texts, as well as on how differing approaches to metaphysics, ethics and politics are grounded in newly created perspectives.

An Introduction to Metaethics

Metaethics is about how ethics works. It's not about judging whether something is morally good or bad in any particular instance but critiquing the foundations used to make the judgements. Some of the questions we might ask are:

  • Are there moral facts?
  • What is moral truth?
  • Do psychopaths really understand moral language?

Like many areas of philosophy metaethics has several branches and by the end of this module you'll be able to:

  • understand the main positions in contemporary metaethics
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

For a good pre-module introduction to the subject have a read of chapter six of Ethics for A level by Mark Dimmock and Andrew Fisher. It's an open-source resource so free to access.

Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism

What is science? Is there a scientific method, and if so, what is it? Can science tell us what the world is really like? Is it the only way to know what the world is really like? Does science progress? What is a paradigm and when/how does it shift? Is science socially constructed? Can a sociological study of the practice of science tell us anything about the nature of science? Is science "value-neutral"? Should we save society from science? What are "the science wars" and who won?

These are some of the questions we will explore in this module. We will start with the positivism-empiricism of the early 20th century and culminate with the postmodernism-relativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath.

Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan. While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. 

Ancient Greek Philosophy

This module explores some of the major thinkers, texts and themes of Ancient Greek philosophy. Ancient Greek philosophy stands at the beginning of the western philosophical tradition and western philosophy has been shaped by a sustained engagement with Ancient Greek thought in areas of philosophy, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political theory.

Topics and thinkers may include: Presocratic Philosophy; Heraclitus; Parmenides; the Sophistic movement; Plato and Platonism; Socrates and the Socratic Schools (Cynics, Cyrenaics and Megarics); Aristotle (ethics, political theory, natural philosophy, metaphysics); Epicurus and Epicureanism; Stoicism; Academic and Pyrrhonian Scepticism; Plotinus and Neoplatonism; Pythagoreansim. No knowledge of the Ancient Greek language is required.

Intermediate Logic

This module takes formal logic beyond the basics (as covered in first year Reasoning, Argument, and Logic). We’ll cover Propositional Logic, First-Order Logic, and Modal Logic (going into more detail where these were covered in first year).

We’ll learn about existence, identity, possibility, and necessity, and we’ll learn formal techniques for testing the validity of arguments. We’ll apply these logical techniques to help us make sense of challenging concepts and arguments in metaphysics and philosophy of language.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

No compulsory modules - you again have free choice from a wide variety of topics. The total credits must add up to 120.

The dissertation module allows you write a longer piece of work on a topic of your own choosing, supported by a member of staff.

You must pass year three which counts approximately two thirds towards your final degree classification.

Optional modules

Advanced Logic

This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will investigate the syntax and semantics of various logics, including first order logic, modal logics, and three-valued logics, as well as ways to apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics such as possibility and necessity, vagueness, and the Liar paradox.

We’ll cover ways to reason and construct proofs using the logics we study, and also ways to reason about them. We’ll look at proofs regarding the limits of formal logic, including proofs of soundness, completeness, and decidability.

Marx

Karl Marx's thoughts and words have had an enormous impact on history. Revolutions have been fought, economic policies pursued and artistic movements established by followers (and opponents) of Marxism.

Together we'll examine some of Mark's original writing and explore his thinking. Specific themes we'll cover include:

  • alienation
  • the materialist conception of history
  • ideology
  • the labour theory of value

By the end of the module you should have a good overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Buddhist Philosophy

This module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions.

These include, in particular: the origin and nature of suffering; the no-self thesis; enlightenment; consciousness; experiential knowing; and the doctrine of Emptiness (the lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence).

Dissertation in Philosophy

The aim of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to write an 8,000-word dissertation on a philosophical topic, the precise subject of which is by agreement with the supervisor. At the completion of the module, you will have had an opportunity to work independently, though with the advice of a supervisor.

Philosophy of Criminal Law

There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. This power relationship raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as:

  • Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation?
  • What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why?
  • What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible?
  • Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
  • What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? 
  • Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment?
  • How should the criminal law function in the international context?

We'll look at thinking from across history, from seminal figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, to more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.

No experience of criminal law necessary. Ideal for both philosophers and practitioners.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Communicating Philosophy

This module will teach you how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing them in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations).

A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the university, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.

Environmental Ethics

In this module we'll ask questions like:

  • How should human beings interact with the non-human natural world?
  • Is nature intrinsically valuable, or does it possess value only by being valuable to us?

As part of this we'll cover topics such as:

  • the moral status of animals
  • the ethics of zoos
  • responsibility for climate change
  • whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature
  • the environmental impact of having children
  • the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development

This module is worth 20 credits.

Free Will and Action

This module involves the study of a set of related issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. Questions to be discussed are likely to include all or most of the following:

  • What would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’) in a sense that would make it an action for which we are morally responsible?
  • Is there is any way in which our actions could be free in the relevant sense, whether or not determinism is true?
  • How do actions differ from bodily movements that are not actions?
  • Actions are typically (perhaps always) done for reasons, but what exactly is the relation between the reasons and the actions?
  • Do the reasons cause the corresponding actions - and if they do, can this be the same kind of causation as is involved in ordinary ‘mechanistic’ causal explanation?
  • And what about the fact that at least some of our actions seem to have purely physical causes?
  • If they do, doesn’t this make any ‘mental causes’ of those actions redundant?
  • What is the connection between intentional or voluntary action and rational action?
  • In particular, it seems that we sometimes intentionally and voluntarily do things that we ourselves regard as irrational - but how is such ‘weakness of will’ possible?
Philosophy and Mortality

This module explores philosophical issues related to human mortality - illness, ageing, death and dying, and other dimensions of our embodied vulnerability. Typical topics might include:

  • the phenomenology of chronic somatic illness
  • psychiatry and mental health
  • the oppression of ill persons
  • the nature and practice of pathography (narrative accounts of the lived experience of illness)
  • the social experiences of ill persons
  • the moral and spiritual significance of illness and ageing
  • anti-natalism
  • the experience of dying
  • empathy, grief, and mourning
  • death and the meaning of life
  • the significance of human mortality to wider philosophical issues and concerns

By the end of the module, you should be able to identify and articulate the ethical and existential significance of various experiences of human mortality; to employ a range of different methods and approaches to understanding those experiences; and to think sensitively and humanely about human experiences of ageing, illness, and dying.

Taking Utilitarianism Seriously

This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:

  • the nature of wellbeing
  • reasons and rightness
  • rights and justice
  • democracy
  • individual decision-making
  • praise and blame
Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Mind

The philosophy of mind addresses philosophical questions about the mind and aspects of the mind: mental or psychological states and capacities. Advanced topics in the philosophy of mind will focus on a specific area (or areas) of the philosophy of mind.

Which specific area (or areas) of philosophy of mind is in focus may vary from year to year. So the topics for this area of philosophy of mind may include:

  • the nature of perception
  • the nature of perceptual consciousness
  • the directness or indirectness of perception
  • the perception-knowledge link
  • what properties or kinds perception can present
  • issues about the senses
  • specific issues about vision and audition
Subjectivism and Relativism in Ethics

One often hears the opinion that ethics is subjective. But what does this mean, exactly?

And one often hears the view that ethics is relative. But relative to what?

And what is ‘ethics’ anyway?

And if ethics is subjective, or relative, what does that mean for ethics as a discipline? Does it mean, for example, that our ethical pronouncements can never be incorrect, never be challenged, or never disagreed with?

This module addresses these and other questions about the foundations of ethics, and gives you the material to develop your own views of this peculiarly human phenomenon.

Knowledge, Ignorance and Democracy

Politics and truth have always had a complicated relationship. Lies, bullshit, spin, and propaganda are nothing new.

Polarization is on the rise in many democracies and political disagreements have spread to disputes about obvious matters of fact.

But have we really entered the era of 'post-truth' politics? Is debate now framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the facts?

In this module, we'll explore questions such as:

  • Should the existence of widespread disagreement in politics make us less confident in our own views?
  • Are voters morally or epistemically obligated to vote responsibly?
  • Is it rational for citizens to base their political views on group identity rather than reasoned arguments?
  • Should we have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts?
  • Is democracy the best form of government for getting at the truth?

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Education

Education plays a fundamental part in all our lives. It shapes who we are as individuals, our value systems, our political and religious outlooks. As a consequence it changes how society looks, how it operates, and what we think society ought to be like. Education then, is of the most profound importance.

As philosophers we are uniquely placed to think long and hard about education:

  • what is its role?
  • what should its role be?
  • who gets to decide what is taught?

Rising to this challenge this module creates the space, and provides the tools, for you to do just this.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Advanced Topics in Aesthetics

This module is a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics could include definitions of art, the objectivity versus the subjectivity of aesthetic evaluations, emotional response to art, the ontological status of artworks, and Walton's theory of make-believe.

This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current views on the status of aesthetic evaluations, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks.

Philosophy of Recreation

We expect recompense when we work but appear to do recreational activities just for their own sake.

You'll use philosophical tools to examine the meaning and value of such recreational activities, exploring questions such as:

  • Is recreational sex and drug consumption merely about pleasurable sensations?
  • Why do we put such great effort into achieving seemingly arbitrary goals in sport?
  • Does it make sense for fans to feel elated if they played no part in a team’s success?
  • Is there something special about being in a zone of effortless attention whilst playing an instrument?
  • Could risking death seeking sensations of the sublime by climbing a mountain be better than safely siting on your sofa watching trash tv?
Philosophy of Sex
  • How many people have you had sex with?
  • Is there a difference between sex work and working in a supermarket?
  • What is love? Do we chose who we love?
  • What is gender? What do we mean when we say 'trans women are women'?

These are some of the many philosophical questions which arise when you start thinking about sex and related topics.

During this module we will tackle the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. Possible topics we'll look at include:

  • the nature of sexual desire
  • sexual consent
  • sexual objectification
  • prostitution
  • pornography
  • sexual orientation

Together we'll look at the experiences and testimony of a variety of groups, including those considered sexual and gender minorities. Then we'll use philosophical tools to explore the issues that such testimony raises.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

We're keen to offer you the opportunity to develop your language skills while studying here.

You can learn a language for its own sake or because it complements your degree or intended career.

We cater for all levels - from complete beginners to near-native competence.

There are currently nine language options available. 

Check out the Language Centre for more information

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy.

We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take.

The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). You can often buy second-hand copies of textbooks through them as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements, such as work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up-to-date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

Philosophy doesn’t lead to a single specific career - it leads into a huge range of professions!

A degree in philosophy will equip you with key professional skills, including:

  • analytical reasoning
  • articulating complex arguments and lines of reasoning
  • constructive criticism and discussion
  • seeing the things your colleagues miss
  • presenting and persuading

A person with good philosophical skills is:

  • resilient - as the nature of work changes you can adapt
  • flexible - you can choose across different sectors as you develop and grow and opportunities arise
  • creative - come up with new ideas and responses to developing situations

Philosophers go on to work in law, politics, the media, education, the charity sector, business, management, the arts – to name just a few. We also have a good record of our undergraduates progressing to Masters and PhD study.

Find out more about your opportunities with philosophy.

Key fact

Only 14% of employers state that specific degree subjects are a selection criterion. (Institute of Student Employers recruitment survey 2019)

Average starting salary and career progression

78.9% of undergraduates from the Department of Philosophy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,390.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

Dummy placeholder image
" Studying philosophy here is great - there's so much freedom to choose. The lecturers are extremely approachable and break down even the most difficult concepts with ease. "
Michaela Lawson, BA Philosophy

Related courses

The University has been awarded Gold for outstanding teaching and learning

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) 2017-18

Important information

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.