English and Philosophy BA


Fact file - 2018 entry

BA Jt Hons English and Philosophy
UCAS code
3 years full-time (available part-time)
A level offer
AAB (we also accept A*BB)
Required subjects
A or A* in English language, literature or combined. General Studies and Critical Thinking are not accepted for A level.
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 (we also accept 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


Elementary Logic
This module provides an introduction to modern logic including technical vocabulary required to aide your understanding of modern philosophical work. You’ll discuss the symbolism of modern logic, the theory of the structure of thought and practice translation between symbolism and English. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Appearance and Reality
In this module you’ll examine some of the central themes surrounding the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. Topics covered include: empiricism and science, perception, justification and scepticism and the nature of objects among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures and on some weeks an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems such as the justification of punishment. The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems. The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry such as relativism, egoism and emotivism. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Reasoning and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophical Method
In this module you’ll learn a series of key skills needed to follow critical methods of philosophical inquiry. The aim is to help you understand the structure and nature of arguments of others and improve your reasoning ability to assist you in your further studies during your course. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.
Self, Mind and Body
In this module you’ll be introduced to the important central issues in philosophy of self, mind and body which continue to be debated to present day. You’ll examine Descarte’s Meditations focusing on his thoughts on dualism and mind-body interaction, comparing these with other related topics. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.

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 1-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 1-hour lectures and one 1-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 mod ule 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.   



Applied Ethics
What is the moral status of animals? What are the limits of free speech? What are the moral issues when discussing abortion? Is affirmative action unjust? In this module you will be looking at these and other issues that arise when we try to put ethics into practice. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
The Existence of God
This module will examine the basic philosophical issues that concern the existence of God. The lectures will cover such topics including: Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Problem of Evil. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
This module will discuss a number of problems tackled by Plato. Attention will be given to the development of the theory of the forms, but we will be working towards an understanding of the motivations for the development of this theory which may be found in his moral/political philosophy. You’ll have two hours of lectures for some weeks and an hour-long lecture in others with an hour-long seminar throughout the semester.
Issues in Feminist Philosophy
This module will provide an introduction to some of the issues discussed in contemporary feminist philosophy, considering a range of sometimes opposing feminist views on topics including: pornography, feminine appearance, and gender roles within the family and in the workplace. You’ll also examine the ways in which feminist writers have shown that matters not traditionally considered political do in fact have political significance. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
History of Western Philosophy
Through considering some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived, you will become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas which have shaped western analytical philosophy. You will understand how and why these ideas arose and the context in which they were developed. The thinkers which could be covered include: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, St Augustine, St Aquinas, Hume, among others. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.


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

Free Will and Action
This module aims to examine some of the main philosophical issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. You’ll conduct a study of some formative works and some recent contributions to the debates on these topics. Through a critical study of these topics, your skills in the analysis, evaluation, and presentation of arguments will also be enhanced. You’ll have two hours of lectures plus an hour-long seminar weekly.
Maurice Merleau-Ponty is associated with the philosophical movements of existentialism and phenomenology. Almost all of his work is concerned with one central question: how should we conceive of consciousness and the world? He holds that our current conceptions are flawed; his aim is to show us this and provide new ones. You will focus on Merleau-Ponty’s Phenomenology of Perception, where much of his discussion revolves around his notion of the body as subject, and consciousness as essentially embodied. 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 2014, 93% of first-degree graduates in the Department of Philosophy who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,769 with the highest being £28,000.*

In 2014, 95% of first-degree graduates in the School of English who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £20,420 with the highest being £42,000.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU graduates, 2013/14.


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
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