Triangle Triangle

Course overview

Religion and philosophy are two of the most profound influences on individuals and society. By studying them together you'll get to understand:

  • the overlaps and differences between the two
  • how they can support and disagree with each other
  • their personal, historical, and cultural importance

You'll cover issues from the deeply personal to society-wide concerns, giving you a greater understanding of different ways of living.

This degree will transform how you think and feel about fundamental issues of human existence.

Theology

  • Study biblical writings together with key thinkers, ideas, events and movements that shaped the course of Western Christian thought
  • Examine the key texts, thinkers, ideas and events in the history of Islam and Judaism
  • Have the opportunity to learn ancient Greek and Hebrew

Philosophy

  • Study topics, figures, and themes from across the Western, Indian and Chinese traditions
  • Explore crime and justice, race and gender, politics and religion, the environment and society
  • Learn to apply philosophical thinking to everyday issues

Your departments

This course is a collaboration between two departments. Find out more about what it’s like to study in the:

Why choose this course?

  • Unusually wide choice of modules allows you to build a degree around your interests.
  • Particular strengths in Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist and atheist thinking
  • Develop skills fundamental to a wide range of professions
  • Interfaith chaplaincy - explore your and other's faith in a supportive setting
  • Work experience and study abroad opportunities to enhance your CV

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 ABB
IB score 32

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

If you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level, you may be eligible for our Foundation Year. You may progress to a range of direct entry degrees in the arts and humanities.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Each subject brings their own methods and approaches to teaching. Both departments encourage innovative methods of teaching and assessments such as:

  • online quizzes
  • creating press releases and legal briefs
  • use of video, art and other creative formats to explore ideas

Teaching quality and support

Our staff know they'll be dealing with complicated and sensitive ideas and take pride in their teaching:

  • philosophy staff have 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 theology students surveyed said they had been able to contact staff when they needed to - an approachable team!

If you have worries abut 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.

"The personal tutoring role is important for building a sense of community between staff and students - we're not just distant lecturers talking at you in a classroom; we're here to help you grow and develop into your degree programme and beyond."

Dr Cat Quine, Personal Tutor, Theology and Religious Studies

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 depending on the module.

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 offer other learning activities, on top of these class contact hours.

Your lecturers will also 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 and seminar preparation. 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 only contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will usually be from our academic staff in the Departments of Philosophy and Theology and Religious Studies 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 1500 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:

  • classroom practice with Key Stage 2 children
  • experience of team working and safeguarding
  • training on how to deliver philosophy

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

Why study two subjects?

The benefits of doing a joint honours degree.

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'll study both subjects equally but have choice in the modules you take.

  • Core philosophy modules - 40 credits
  • Optional philosophy modules - 20 credits
  • Optional theology modules - 60 credits

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

Core philosophy modules

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.

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

Optional philosophy 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.

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.

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.

Optional theology modules

Interpreting the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament

This module is an introduction to the literature, history and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, also known as the Old Testament or Tanakh.

Attention will be paid to the biblical text as history, as literature and as scripture in the Jewish and Christian traditions, both in general and with particular reference to specific texts.

Watch Dr Cat Quine give an overview of this module in just over 90 seconds.

Interpreting the New Testament
This module will cover the following themes: the canon and text of the New Testament; the Roman, Greek and Jewish background to the New Testament; source, form and redaction criticism of the Synoptic Gospels; the historicity of the Synoptic Gospels and Acts, and the authenticity of Paul's letters.
Building the Christian Church
This module introduces students to the lives and works of some of the main Christian theologians. The module will follow the chronological development of Christian thought, both eastern and western, from the first Christian thinkers in the second century, up to the Reformation and Counter-Reformation in the sixteenth century, including key figures such as Origen, Augustine, Aquinas and Luther. It focuses upon the ideas of the theologians, but places them in their broader historical and ecclesiastical context.
Christianity and the Challenge of Modernity

This module introduces students to the development of Western Christian theology, both Protestant and Catholic, from the Enlightenment to the present. It surveys the challenges posed to Christian faith by modernity and a range of theological responses to these challenges. It also introduces modern Christian approaches to ethics.

Watch Dr Michael Burdett give an overview of this module in less that 90 seconds.

Interpreting Islam

This module examines the narrative and textual foundations of the Islamic tradition including the Qur'an, the prophetic tradition and the life of the Prophet Muhammad. You’ll also look at the development and structure of Islamic society, law, doctrine and spirituality through the classical period, and Muslim responses to challenges posed by modernity including questions of gender and the nation state.

Interpreting Judaism
This module will introduce Judaism in the period from its formation to modernity. We will study major texts of Second Temple and Late Antique Judaism, the developments of medieval Jewish culture under Islamic and Christian rule, and key topics in early modern and contemporary Judaism. Special emphasis will be given to the textual strategies of Jewish readings of the Bible, to the continuing important of the Temple as a central religious symbol, and to the impact of the foundation of the state of Israel. The module will give students an overview of Judaism as a diverse tradition that has always engaged its Roman, Christian, Persian, Muslim and modern Western surroundings.
Philosophy for Theologians

This module will provide an overview of the most important philosophical ideas, theories, and arguments that are of special interest to students of theology. The module will begin with the Greek 'natural theology' of the pre-Socratic thinkers and end with the post-modern 'turn to religion' of Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. 

The Bible in Music, Art and Literature

The Bible is a perennial bestseller and its influence on Western culture is unparalleled. This influence is not always obvious though, nor limited to the 'religious sphere'. In the Arts - whether Bach or The Beatles, Michelangelo or Monty Python - the use of the Bible is extremely varied. This module explores the ways the Bible is drawn upon in art, music and literature ranging from ancient Jewish synagogue mosaics and early Christian iconography, to contemporary - secular - films and music. Students are encouraged not only to engage with case studies of works of art which demonstrate the use and influence of the Bible, but also to consider critically the way in which art, music and literature - both 'religious' and 'secular' - function as biblical interpretations, and as part of the Bible's 'reception-history'. The module is taught by a variety of theologians in the department specialising in different areas of the Bible's reception. Introductory contributions on the influence of the Bible on, and through, a range of authors, musicians and artists can be seen in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies' Bibledex video project.

Reading, Writing and Speaking Religion
This module provides an introduction to key skills required for the discipline of Theology and Religious Studies in the understanding and analysis of primary texts in world religions, and in a range of broader abilities necessary for university level study, including bibliographical and footnoting skills, the use of scholarly journals and monographs, argumentation and essay writing. 
Atheism

This module will investigate the phenomenon of atheism, both traditional and ‘old’ and the cultural phenomenon sometimes referred to as ‘new atheism, place it in a broader historical and intellectual context. Where does it come from? What are the sources and roots of contemporary atheism? How can we explain the transition in Western society from belief as norm to agnosticism or atheism as the majority position? What are the most convincing arguments for atheism, and what are its most radical and interesting versions? The module will include examination of recent writers (e.g. Dawkins, Dennett, Hitchens), atheists of the Enlightenment, and thinkers such as Nietzsche and Feuerbach. Secularization and various ways in which scholars have tried to understand it will be explored.

Watch Dr Conor Cunningham give an overview of this module in under 90 seconds.

Religion, Media and Ethics

We live in a media environment, surrounded by social media, videogames, TV, movies, 24-hour news and more. The media teach us what to think about each other, how to talk to each other, and who we want to be. This course invites us to think more critically and imaginatively about the media. We will explore how the media portrays religion, and ask why stereotypes persist. We will see how the media challenges religion, and provokes new religious creativity. We ask what the big ideas of religious ethics could teach us about how to use media more wisely. In the process, we will also start learning the key skills we need to be more effective media communicators.

Watch Dr Tim Hutchings give an overview of this module in just 80 seconds.

Introduction to Biblical Hebrew A
This is an introduction to the grammar, syntax and vocabulary of the Hebrew language, as found in the Hebrew Bible; no previous knowledge of the language is assumed.
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 Monday 17 May 2021.

You'll again study both subjects equally but have a wider choice of modules.

  • Core theology modules - 20 credits
  • Optional theology modules - 40 credits
  • Optional philosophy modules - 60 credits

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

Core theology module

Abraham's Children: Religion, Culture and Identity

This module seeks to facilitate reflection on religion, identity, and culture within and between Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and modern secularity. A lecture sequence will introduce leading theories of religion and approaches to the ‘other’ from the eighteenth century to today, examine how these theories and approaches developed in response to cultural conflicts and historical events, and introduce some of the qualitative and quantitative research methods used to study religion and secularity today. This will enable students to (1) recognise the legacy of classic theories of religion in contemporary theoretical debates across the humanities, (2) analyse and assess the usefulness of the various theories and approaches for engaging traditions and texts, and (3) plan and conduct their own empirical research projects. The theoretical awareness developed through the lecture series will be put to use in a seminar series, which will be devoted to review of selected texts from V81001 Great Religious Texts I and V81002 Great Religious Texts II through group discussions. The methodological awareness developed through the lecture series will be put to use in a series of methodology workshops. Students will also give two individual 10 minute presentations that are formative and unassessed, one focused on theory and one on method. Students will be provided with guidance on how to give presentations and on where to look for resources to research their presentations. Students will also engage in evaluating their own and others' presentations.

Watch Dr Tim Hutchings give an overview of this module in under 100 seconds.

Optional theology modules

Year two optional theology modules are also available to choose in year three.

If you haven't studied biblical Greek before there is the option to take an introductory module outside of your year group. If this interests you contact us for more information.

The Philosophy of Religion

In this module you’ll explore significant problems in the philosophy of religion, such as the credibility of the existence of God, the relation between religion and science, the relation between religion and morality, the problem of evil, and the possibility of an after-life. There will also be discussion of significant themes, such as the nature of being, of faith, of religious experience, of religious language, and of religious love.  This module is taught through four hours of lecture and an hour-long seminar weekly.

Watch Dr Conor Cunningham give an overview of this video in just over 60 seconds.

Islamic Theology and Philosophy

This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.

Watch Dr Jon Hoover give an overview of this module in just 60 seconds.

The Theology of Paul

Explore the theology of Paul as found in the seven letters that are generally considered to be written by him (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon).

The major themes explored are:

  • law
  • reconciliation
  • justification
  • grace
  • faith
  • sacrifice
  • word of God
  • Christology
  • Israel
  • the church
  • ethics
  • the ‘last things’.

Watch Professor Richard Bell give an overview of this module in less than 60 seconds.

Virtue Ethics and Literature

Virtue ethics is an ancient form of moral practice, which has also come back into prominence in recent years. It believes that ethics belongs to the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. We shall study key ancient Greek texts, such as Aristotle's Nichomachaen Ethics and Theophrastus' work on character, as well as Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconsturals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock. Students will also do a short presentation, applying virtue ethics to a particular moral problem or specific form of activity, e.g nursing, war, or teaching.

Watch Professor Alison Milbank give an overview of this module in less than 80 seconds.

Intermediate Biblical Greek
This module builds on level 1 Biblical Greek language modules in developing the ability to handle the biblical text in its original languages. The basis of the module is the study and translation of individual texts (which will vary from year to year) with analysis of vocabulary, grammar and style.
Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
This module builds on Level 1 introductory Hebrew language modules in developing the ability to handle the text of the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (BHS), an edition of the Hebrew Masoretic Text with its own invaluable contribution, the critical apparatus. This apparatus has a system of sigla (symbols and abbreviations) that, when learned, enable the Hebrew student to quickly compare variations of the text through the course of written history. The ability to navigate the BHS is key for examining some of the most mysterious and debated concepts in the Hebrew Bible. The basis of the module is the study and translation of individual texts (which will vary from year to year) with analysis of vocabulary, grammar, and style.
Jewish Theology and Philosophy: From Philo to Levinas

The module provides an overview of the most important theological and philosophical ideas, theories and arguments that Jewish thought developed from the Hellenistic period of Philo of Alexandria to the postmodern times of Emmanuel Levinas. The method of instruction will combine historical and speculative approaches, using the perspective of the 'history of ideas'. 

Women and Warfare in the Hebrew Bible

Explore a range of historical, ethical, and theological issues relating to women and warfare in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel.

You'll start by looking at the Hebrew Bible's portrayals of women and the feminine, including:

  • goddesses
  • biblical queens
  • the role of women in the community.

Next, you'll move on to warfare, considering, for example:

  • the relationship between military victory and righteousness in the Bible
  • the theological implications of YHWH being a god who fights in battle
  • how Judah's greatest ever military defeat became the defining point of its theology.

Watch Dr Cat Quine give and overview of this module in less than 100 seconds.

Optional philosophy modules

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.

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. 

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
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. 

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.

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? 

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.

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.

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
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

There are no compulsory modules - choose modules to deepen existing knowledge or explore something new.

If you choose to write a dissertation you can do this in either subject or combine both into a single piece of work.

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

Optional philosophy modules

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?
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.

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.

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.

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).

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.

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.

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?
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.

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.

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
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.

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.

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
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.

Language, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics

Typically, this module introduces you to some advanced topics in contemporary analytic metaphysics. The module focuses on important topics, which have received recent attention. The topics covered will include:

  • metaphysical nihilism (why there is something rather than nothing, and the subtraction argument)
  • causation (the counterfactual theory and other accounts)
  • the metaphysics of grounding (and concerns with such a notion)
  • the metaphysics of absolute and relational space and time, and vagueness and indeterminacy

The module presupposes a certain basic familiarity with general issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, but is designed to serve as an advanced introduction to new topics that is completely accessible to the uninitiated.

Optional theology modules

Year three optional theology modules are also available to choose in year two.

The Theology of Paul

Explore the theology of Paul as found in the seven letters that are generally considered to be written by him (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon).

The major themes explored are:

  • law
  • reconciliation
  • justification
  • grace
  • faith
  • sacrifice
  • word of God
  • Christology
  • Israel
  • the church
  • ethics
  • the ‘last things’.

Watch Professor Richard Bell give an overview of this module in less than 60 seconds.

Virtue Ethics and Literature

Virtue ethics is an ancient form of moral practice, which has also come back into prominence in recent years. It believes that ethics belongs to the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. We shall study key ancient Greek texts, such as Aristotle's Nichomachaen Ethics and Theophrastus' work on character, as well as Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconsturals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock. Students will also do a short presentation, applying virtue ethics to a particular moral problem or specific form of activity, e.g nursing, war, or teaching.

Watch Professor Alison Milbank give an overview of this module in less than 80 seconds.

The Philosophy of Religion

In this module you’ll explore significant problems in the philosophy of religion, such as the credibility of the existence of God, the relation between religion and science, the relation between religion and morality, the problem of evil, and the possibility of an after-life. There will also be discussion of significant themes, such as the nature of being, of faith, of religious experience, of religious language, and of religious love.  This module is taught through four hours of lecture and an hour-long seminar weekly.

Watch Dr Conor Cunningham give an overview of this video in just over 60 seconds.

Dissertation

You will undertake an extended piece of investigative and synthesising work on a subject of particular interest and produce a final written dissertation of 8000 words.

This will:

  • provide practice in researching a topic independently and in depth
  • involve use of a range of primary and/or secondary information sources
  • create coherent and sustained analysis and argument in both writing and speech.
Islamic Theology and Philosophy

This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.

Watch Dr Jon Hoover give an overview of this module in just 60 seconds.

Women and Warfare in the Hebrew Bible

Explore a range of historical, ethical, and theological issues relating to women and warfare in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel.

You'll start by looking at the Hebrew Bible's portrayals of women and the feminine, including:

  • goddesses
  • biblical queens
  • the role of women in the community.

Next, you'll move on to warfare, considering, for example:

  • the relationship between military victory and righteousness in the Bible
  • the theological implications of YHWH being a god who fights in battle
  • how Judah's greatest ever military defeat became the defining point of its theology.

Watch Dr Cat Quine give and overview of this module in less than 100 seconds.

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

Theology and Philosophy both open the doors to a wide range of possible careers.

You'll develop key professional skills such as how to:

  • understand and analyse others' ideas and beliefs
  • think carefully and clearly
  • sift evidence, make reasoned decisions and argue persuasively
  • develop sensitivity to cultural and religious diversity
  • communicate your ideas with confidence
  • engage intelligently and critically with the world in all its depth and complexity

The skills you develop will make you:

  • 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

Recent graduates are currently working in areas such as:

  • law, public policy, strategy, and consulting
  • banking and finance
  • postgraduate degrees and academia
  • teaching
  • creative arts and cultural administration
  • police and detective work
  • religious and charitable organisations
  • journalism, advertising, and communications
  • psychology and counselling
  • publishing and editing
  • charities

Find out more about opportunities for our Philosophy and Theology students.

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.

Theology and Religious Studies

71.4% of undergraduates from the Department of Theology and Religious Studies secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £19,830.*

*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).

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" The department is a great learning atmosphere full of friendly professionals. The eclectic research of the tutors can bring you into contact with literature, history, archaeology, art history and continental philosophy – something for all students of the programme. "
Jack Murphy, BA Philosophy and Theology

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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.