At a glance
- Get hands-on experience teaching philosophy as a volunteer in primary schools
- Study an unusually diverse syllabi, spanning the Western and Asian traditions and ethical, social, feminist, and theoretical philosophies.
- Have the opportunity to study abroad and gain a new perspective on philosophy in countries around the globe
- Join a department ranked in the top 15 for philosophy in the UK by The Complete University Guide 2018
What is Philosophy?
Philosophy asks large questions about life and the world – about justice, ethics, beauty, fairness, the limits of science, the purpose of education, the nature of consciousness, even the meaning of life itself. These questions can be motivated by curiosity and wonder, or by a sense that things in the world are going wrong. Philosophers think understanding and rational persuasion are key to trying to improve the world. We ask questions because the answers matter to human beings – and so philosophy is an intellectual discipline that aims to give reasoned answers to fundamental questions. Although you don’t need to be a philosopher to ask these questions, studying philosophy helps you to give clear, precise, reasoned answers to them.
Studying philosophy helps us to understand the world, to be more rational, to eliminate prejudice and bigotry, and to be clearer about the really big questions in life. It encourages fair-mindedness, tolerance, and healthy, constructive scepticism. It can also enhance your ability to understand and engage with opposing points of view, even when we think they are incorrect or incoherent.
How will I study?
Our syllabus is unusually diverse. You’ll study all the cores areas of Western philosophy as well as the Asian philosophical traditions. Our modules address ethics, 'social, feminist, and political philosophy, the philosophies of mind and personal identity, metaphysics and epistemology, feminist philosophy, and the philosophies of art, religion, science, sex, and criminal law. Alongside these, we have modules in philosophical methodology, teaching you how to reason, argue, and write for different types of audience. So as well as teaching you philosophy, we train you to philosophise.
Lecture classes tend to be informal, with different teachers using different styles appropriate to the topic at hand. Seminars allow for sustained small-group discussion, where you can explore ideas and test your skills. Alongside this more formal classroom-based teaching, we have drop-in hours, podcasts, and other styles of teaching.
If you are a single honours student, you take compulsory and optional modules in your first year. In your second and third years, you have free choice on the modules you take – so follow your interests! You can also take subsidiary modules from other departments! Our joint honours courses are divided between the two or three subjects.
Assessment is by a mixture of exams and coursework, with the option to take presentations in some modules. Your first year marks do not count towards your final degree classification, and third-year marks are given more weight in the final degree assessment.
School of Humanities work placement module
This optional module will give you direct experience of a workplace, via a part-time professional placement.
In the first semester you’ll attend ten two-hour weekly seminars, and three individual tutorials/seminars
In the second semester you will spend one day a week for 6-8 weeks working at an external organisation, as well as attending three individual tutorials/seminars.
Assessment includes a portfolio assembled over the year - including CV, cover letters, reflective blog posts and presentation, and a written research report that examines the function of the placement organisation in context of the wider sector.
Philosophy doesn’t lead into a single specific career: it leads into a huge range of professions! If you can argue persuasively, clearly articulate your ideas, criticise carefully, and think well, then you are in good stead for many different careers. Philosophers go on to work in law, politics, the media, education, the charity sector, business, management, the arts – to name just a few. The department’s module ‘Communicating Philosophy’ trains philosophy students to communicate their ideas to people without philosophical training – a crucial skill for making the movement from study to ‘the real world’.
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.
We offer our philosophers the chance to study overseas, in Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Europe, and Mexico. Nottingham has the highest number of any UK university on outward mobility under the Erasmus scheme.* We’re happy to advise!
* Erasmus student and staff numbers by institution, Erasmus+ 2014.
Application and interview
Offers are normally made without interview.
Offer-holder days for students offered a place are normally held from late January to March. You are welcome to visit at other times – get in touch or visit www.nottingham.ac.uk/opendays