University subject profile: philosophy | Philosophy

What you’ll learn
Philosophy tackles the questions and concepts others take for granted. What is private property? What does it actually mean to say that one event causes another? What is truth? Students reading philosophy can find themselves engaging with modern social and political concerns, while confronting personal value systems, social critique and moral life.

Expect to study different thinkers and traditions of thought, from Plato and Aristotle through to Marx, Kant, Nietzsche, Russell and Derrida.

Modules are likely to include critical reasoning, metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics and political philosophy, plus the philosophy of science, literature, mind, religion, language and maths.

Philosophy can be studied as a joint honours degree; students often pair with history, politics or even computer science.

How you’ll learn
Although you’ll be taught an overview of the work of a number of the world’s most prominent philosophers, be prepared to dig deeper and do extra reading. You’ll be taught mostly through lectures, seminars and lots of independent work.

A good philosophy course teaches you how to think about issues systematically. You’ll develop key skills in oral and written communication, critical reading, constructing and defending an argument, and independent research.

Entry requirements
Given that philosophy is not a particularly common A-level subject, entry requirements in many universities will not be too strict. However, some courses encourage applications from students who have A-levels (or equivalent) in subjects such as maths, religious studies, classical civilisations or other social sciences and humanities subjects. Entry levels vary.

What job can you get?
Philosophy develops highly valued skills, such as verbal reasoning, creative thinking, presenting a coherent argument, analysing densely written material, and carrying out independent inquiry.

Work can be found in consultancy, journalism, local administration, law, publishing, project management, teaching, librarianship, the civil service and banking. The financial sector, the legal profession and finance are other common destinations. Others move on to the creative industries.

Some graduates go on to further study and a career in academia and research.

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