English and Philosophy BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons English and Philosophy
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
A/A* in English (language, literature or combined)
IB score
34 (6 in English at Higher Level) 
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places


This course combines a rigorous training in analytical philosophy with the opportunity to study English language, literature and drama from Old English to the present day.
Read full overview

This course combines a rigorous training in analytical philosophy with the opportunity to study English language, literature and drama from Old English to the present day. You will develop important skills in clear thinking, argument, the use of language, and independent study.

Year one 

In English, you have a choice of three core modules from the areas of English language, modern English literature, medieval studies and drama. In philosophy, you will be introduced to the subject through a series of core modules in central philosophical problems and you will also be able to choose optional modules.

Year two

In English, you will choose core modules to develop your studies in at least two areas of the discipline. You will also have the opportunity to choose one literary period option, to explore how and why literature can be read in terms of an historical 'age' or 'epoch'. In philosophy, you will choose from a variety of optional modules, which will build on material studied in year one, allowing you to develop and broaden your philosophical skills and knowledge.

Year three

You choose from a wide range of modules enabling you to specialise in key areas of English. Joint honours students enjoy the same wide range of final-year options in English as single honours. In philosophy, there will be free choice from a wide variety of more advanced modules, including the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of your own choosing.

More information 

See also the School of English.

Entry requirements

A levels: AAB/A*BB with A/A* in English A-level (literature, language or combined).

We do not require any particular A-level subjects to study philosophy, and we are happy to accept most A-level qualifications. However, we are looking for a combination of A-level subjects that shows you are prepared to embark on degree-level study of philosophy; this requires the capacity to make sense of often difficult material, think critically about the different arguments and ideas you encounter, and communicate the results of your thinking in written and verbal form.

General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted for A level.

Please feel free to contact the departments for further advice.

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

For details please see the alternative qualifications page

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication 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. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


Reasoning, Argument and Logic
This module teaches you practices of good reasoning, argument, and logic, as well as other skills relecant to philosophical study. Topics might include: philosophical essay writing; how to identity, produce, and assess arguments; forms of argument; fallacies and other standard errors of argument; conceptual analysis; basic philosophical vocabulary; the use of thought experiments.
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, and the nature of ethical judgements

English options

You must choose three out of these four modules:

Language and Context

This module is concerned with main forms and functions of English vocabulary, grammar and discourse and exploring how they are used in real social and cultural contexts. You’ll look at how language is used for different purposes and how people use language to reveal and conceal social realities as well other topics surrounding language and context. For this module you’ll have a one one-hour lecture, seminar and workshop per week.

Beginnings of English

You’ll be introduced to the language, literature and culture of medieval England and study texts from the Old and Middle English. In this module you’ll familiarise yourself with philological knowledge needed for the reading and understanding of medieval texts. In addition you will be introduced to the basics of grammar and spelling conventions. For this module you’ll have two one-hour lectures and one one-hour seminar per week.

Studying Literature

In this module you’ll be introduced to some of the core skills necessary for studying literary studies such as reading, writing, researching and presentation. You’ll also address topics including: close reading, constructing an argument as well as other related topics. For this module you’ll have a combination of lectures and seminars. 

Introduction to Drama

For this module you’ll explore the variety of drama in the western dramatic tradition. You’ll consider some of the following: theatre of ancient Greece, medieval mystery and morality plays, the drama of Shakespeare and the restoration, 19th century tradition to name a select amount. For this module you’ll study selected plays but also explore 20th century interpretations of the texts through use of video extracts. For this module you’ll have a combination of seminars and lectures.   



History of Politics: Ancient to Modern
This course offers an introduction to a range of figures, topics, and traditions in the Western philosophical tradition. These might include: conceptions of the good life in ancient Greek ethics; the relation of reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy; Renaissance humanism and the rise of science; the education of mind and character; philosophies of gendered, racial, and caste oppression; philosophy and the colonial experience in Afro-Caribbean philosophy; and existentialism and the authentic life.
Metaphysics, Science and Language
The 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
This module will explore the thought about religion of a few key philosophical thinkers chosen from more than one tradition.  Representative thinkers might include, but are not limited to, atheists such as Feuerbach and Nietzsche, Buddhists such as Śāntideva and Dōgen, Christians such as Augustine, Pascal and Weil, Hindus such as the writers of the Upanisads and Shankara, Jews such as Spinoza and Buber, Muslims such as Mulla Sadra and Nasr, and Taoists such as Zhuangzi; in some years, more contemporary thinkers might be chosen.  The texts will be used to raise issues of wider philosophical significance, 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; and problems of religious diversity.  While such content may vary from year to year, each year will focus on a few key thinkers and themes.
Philosophy and the Contemporary World
This module addresses issues of contemporary concern, arising from unattractive features of human life in its current forms. Topics might include: the purpose of education; is there a right to higher education; who should pay for higher education; free speech *why value free speech; censorship and pornography, hate speech and safe spaces; identity and prejudice (race and racial politics; homophobia; transphobia; intersex; class, disability; representation of religion in politics; psychology of bias); civic responsibility (animals and the environment; ‘bullshit’, truth, and post-truth politics; suffrage; media culture); global justice (war; terrorism; world hunger; migration and refugees); ethics and technology (human enhancement; drugs and sport; artificial intelligence).
Gender, Justice, and Society
Proposed topics include: what is justice? What is gender justice? What would a just organization of labour and resources look like? How does the gendered distribution of labour and resources affect this? What is autonomy? How does gender affect the way we understand autonomy? What is culture, and why does it matter? How should the state respond to cultural differences? What should feminists say about this? Is violence justified? How can we make sense of gender-based violence? Should there be a distinction between the public and the private? Does it make sense to think of our personal lives as ‘political’?
Typical year two 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, 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'. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

Freedom and Obligation

This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

Mind and Consciousness

This module aims to introduce you to some of the major issues within contemporary philosophy of mind. We will examine four topics and the interactions between them: intentionality, consciousness, mental causation and the status of physicalism. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

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; the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification and the relation between your evidence and what you know, among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

Normative Ethics

You’ll gain an in-depth understanding of the main positions in contemporary normative ethics; their variations, strengths, weaknesses and historical precedents. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.

Being, Becoming and Reality

In this module you’ll discuss several advance topics in metaphysics. The module will cover a broad range of topics including existence, nothingness and truthmaking, and truthmakers. Theories of substance, identity, constitution and composition will be explored, among others to enhance the skills required to carry out research in philosophy. The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.


English options

You must choose three modules in English covering at least two of the following areas:

Literature 1500 to the present

Each of the modules offered will provide a comprehensive introduction to the changes in the genres of prose, poetry and drama across the period studied, placing the works encountered in the context of key aesthetic, social and political/historical contexts.

English language and applied linguistics

Building on the study of English language undertaken in year one, your second year language modules provide the exciting opportunity for you to explore aspects of language use in the mind, in society and in literature.

Medieval languages and literatures

You can choose to pursue one or more of the medieval areas introduced in year one, or you can opt to study a new but related area. In all cases you will develop your understanding of language change and variety, registers, styles, modes and genres, as they appear in medieval texts, and become more expert in reading with reference to wider medieval cultures.

Drama and performance

Year two modules provide the opportunity to develop approaches from the first year by studying 20th and 21st-century theatre; by exploring key critical approaches to drama in theory and practice, and by focusing on a key period in the development of our nation’s theatre.

For a sample of typical modules from each area please see our single honours BA English listing.

Typical year three modules

Advanced Logic

This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will look at logics of possibility and necessity, time, and knowledge, as well as alternative logics, including ‘anti-realist’ logic and fuzzy logic. We will apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics including vagueness, the liar paradox and anti-realism. We will also investigate basic set theory, infinity and the limits of formal logic, including soundness, completeness and decidability proofs.
Social Philosophy
In this module you’ll discuss key issues in social philosophy. Indicative topics that might be covered include: philosophy of gender; philosophy of race; philosophy of disability; philosophy of relationships and friendship; slavery and abolition; social and psychological oppression.

Recently, the focus for this module has been on the philosophy of race and has concerned questions such as:

  • How should race be conceptualised following the discrediting of biological conceptions of race?
  • What does it mean to consider race as a social construct?
  • Should we be eliminitivists about race?
  • What are the implications of how we conceptualise race for understandings of racism?

The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.

An Introduction to Contemporary Meta-Ethics

This module will take a detailed look at the main arguments and themes in contemporary metaethics. It will trace the development of contemporary debates in metaethics from their beginnnings in the work of G. E. Moore up to the most recent arguments between naturalism and non-naturalism, cognitivism and non-cognitivism. You'll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.

Philosophy of Art

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 view on expression and representation, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.


In this module you’ll be introduced to the theories of Karl Marx through selected texts from his works. Topics covers will include: alienation, the material conception of history, the labour theory of value and French political theory among others. You’ll gain an understanding of concepts essential for advanced study on this course.


This module will take a detailed look at one of the main topics of contemporary analytical political philosophy: the theory of distributive justice. This theory attempts to specify abstractly the conditions under which a distribution of benefits and burdens amongst a group of persons would be just. You will consider challenges to the legitimacy of any redistributive principle, and attempts to accommodate values such as responsibility and choice in different patterns of distribution. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week. 

Buddhist Philosophy

The 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). The module will focus particularly on Nâgârjuna’s philosophy of the ‘middle way’ and some modern commentaries on it. The module will approach Buddhism as a philosophical world-view, rather than as a religious one. The module will not be involved in detailed exegesis of ancient texts. When possible the module will try to link Buddhist conceptions to contemporary ideas about personhood, consciousness and the fundamental nature of reality. You will have a mixture of seminars and lectures for this module.


English options

The final year is when all the different strands of your teaching and learning experience as an undergraduate culminate in the opportunity to demonstrate and apply all the different kinds of skills you have acquired in researching a topic, extended analysis of specialist themes and areas, and in independent study. 

You will have the opportunity to study a range of authors, genres, linguistic approaches, and textual forms and contexts, in both national and international contexts, thinking about English in the broadest possible terms. You will also have the opportunity to specialise in areas for which you have developed genuine aptitude and passion during your undergraduate career.

A typical list of options available can be found on our single honours BA English listing.



You will have developed your imagination and sensitivity to the use of language, and the ability to abstract, analyse, and construct logical arguments. You will have a broad knowledge of a variety of philosophical theories and of key areas of English studies, including language, modern literature, and literary theory, along with an in-depth understanding of the areas on which you have chosen to focus. Your transferable skills will include effective communication, critical thinking, and independent study.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 93.2% of undergraduates in the School of Humanities who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,205 with the highest being £38,000.*

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

Careers support and advice

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.  


Fees and funding

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 £2,000 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/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course includes one or more pieces of formative assessment. 

How to use the data

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.


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Department of Philosophy
School of Humanities
The University of Nottingham
University Park
NG7 2RD  








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The University of Nottingham
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