Philosophy

Philosophy is the application of rigorous analysis and argument to integral questions of human intellectual history which explore the fundamental nature of reality and human existence.

You will learn the basics of logic, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and political philosophy and will be able to explore your own interests through specialised units and independent research.

Our dynamic department has an established reputation in research and teaching.

Why study Philosophy at Bristol?

Studying philosophy at Bristol gives you the opportunity to delve into some of the deepest questions that have puzzled great thinkers by applying the rigorous analysis and argument that is distinctive of the western 'analytic' philosophical tradition. You will be part of a heritage of philosophy in the South West that includes John Locke and Thomas Hobbes.

A distinguishing feature of our courses is that you will cover the basic topics that form the groundwork to philosophy in your first two years. Your third year will then allow you to study more advanced, specialised units offered by lecturers in their own fields of research specialisation. These include:

  • Philosophy of Psychology
  • Death, Dying and Disease
  • Theories of Justice
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Art and the Understanding.

You may also have the opportunity to study at one of our worldwide partners on an exchange programme during your second year.

The Philosophy Society produces its own magazine, Ad Absurdum, edited and written by undergraduate and postgraduate students.

What kind of student would this course suit?

You have a love of reading and a willingness to spend time poring over difficult and demanding texts to extract and analyse their meaning.

You relish the prospect of engaging in rigorous argument, both with the great philosophers of the past and with your tutors and peers.

You approach fundamental questions concerning what exists and how we should live with an open mind.

If this description fits you, you will find yourself well suited to the study of philosophy.

Every day my inbox is flooded with opportunities – internships, research projects, extra-curricular activities – all of which are the University getting students involved. The University is constantly updating its facilities, which reinforces its friendly and inclusive environment.

Alexandra, Second year, LLB Law

How is this course taught and assessed?

Philosophy at Bristol is taught by a mixture of lectures, seminars, group tutorials and individual tutorials. For every hour of formal teaching you should expect at least three hours of independent study.

As you progress through the course lecture sizes become smaller and you will receive more one-to-one tuition, culminating in the extended essays you will write in the final year with the support of a tutor.

We distinguish between summative and formative assessment. Marks for first year units and for coursework essays are for formative purposes only and do not count towards your final degree classification. Your final degree class is based on your second and third-year exams and third-year extended essays.

What are my career prospects?

Philosophers are highly employable. Many employers value the flexibility of thought and the capacity for marshalling arguments in a coherent and compelling manner that philosophy fosters.

Many philosophy graduates go on to make excellent lawyers, journalists, teachers, consultants, entrepreneurs and leaders in business or other professions.

Read more about what students from philosophy go on to do after graduation.

Did you know?

  • Students from more than 180 countries study with us, and we share more than 150 exchange links with institutions worldwide.
  • Our Students' Union has over 200 student-run societies, and the Richmond Building, home to the Students' Union, is undergoing a £30-million renovation.
  • 11 Bristol graduates and members of staff have been awarded Nobel prizes.

Subject leaflet

Download the Philosophy leaflet 2017 (PDF, 281kB)

Disclaimer

Important disclaimer information about our courses.

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