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Philosophy courses

A philosophy degree involves studying the ideas of great thinkers, examining their arguments and voicing your own opinions - and it could be a good fit if you're the sort of person who continually questions things and likes an intellectual challenge. Topics include ethics (the nature of right and wrong), metaphysics (the relationship between appearance and reality) and the mind (thought and feelings). You'll find philosophy graduates in a wide range of industries and job sectors.

Studying philosophy at university

Example course modules

  • Metaphysics
  • Realism and normativity
  • Philosophical problems
  • Great books
  • Classic readings in philosophy
  • Social and political theory
  • Engaging with the humanities
  • Acting: text and character
  • Philosophy of film and literature

Teaching hours / week

Average for this subject


Average for all subjects

The time you'll spend in lectures and seminars each week will vary from university to university, so use this as a guide.

More on studying and contact hours at uni

Who studies this subject

  • Female : 52%
    Male : 48%
  • Mature : 14%
    School leaver : 86%
  • Full-time : 91%
    Part-time : 9%

What students say about philosophy

I have 6 hours of lectures and 6 hours of seminars every week. Philosophy involves, as you may expect, disciplined thought on a range of philosophical issues, and interrogates p...

Academic Experience

I have 6 hours of lectures and 6 hours of seminars every week. Philosophy involves, as you may expect, disciplined thought on a range of philosophical issues, and interrogates possible answers questions such as "how should we live?", "what is perception?" and "what exists?". What surprised me was how much of the course is focussed on HOW to do philosophy, such as logic, and how to produce good arguments. This was actually thoroughly enjoyable and enlightening. My course is very challenging, but if (as is often the case on my course) you genuinely enjoy the work then you will not struggle. Most of the work, I thought, was mind-based. If you spend spare time thinking through arguments and puzzling about the world, you're 50% of the way there! What is required extra is reading and research, which you are free to choose for yourself although there is a lot of guidance if you want it. We are assessed through essays and exams. We receive a moderate amount of feedback on our marked essays, and meet with our tutors three (or more) times a year. The feedback for me was not comprehensive or particularly helpful, but I'm not sure I really needed it to be any more thorough really! As a Philosopher course-specific facilities aren't important, but Hallward Library is more than sufficient and it's easy to find books not named in guidance which are absolutely fascinating and relevant.

1st year, University of Nottingham

1st year, University of Nottingham
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What you need to get on a course

Subjects you need

A-levels (or equivalent) usually required

  • No Specific Requirements

Useful to have

  • English
  • Mathematics
  • Religious studies
  • Classical civilisation
  • Philosophy

Application checklist

Here's a guide to what to expect from the application process - also check individual university entry requirements, as these may differ.

  • January application
  • October application
  • Personal statement
  • Portfolio
  • Interview
  • Entry test
  • Work experience
  • Audition

Personal statement advice

Your personal statement is a core part of your university application, and getting it just right takes time. Before you start work on yours, take a look at our five quick tips on writing a personal statement. We'll help you past that writer's block!

Career prospects

Sources: HECSU & KIS
Although there aren't a lot of jobs around for professional philosophers, philosophy degrees are an increasingly popular option, with more than 2,300 students graduating in a philosophy-related subject in 2012. Nearly a quarter of philosophy graduates take a postgraduate qualification, and it's a relatively common subject at both Masters and doctorate level – so if you think academic life might be for you, think ahead about how you might fund further study. For those who go into work, philosophy grads tend to go into education, management, marketing, community work, human resources and the finance industry, while a few even went into IT, where their logical training can be very useful.
Professional and accrediting bodies:

Six months after graduating

Typical graduate job areas
  • Sales, marketing and related associate professionals

Longer term career paths

Jobs where this degree is useful

  • Marketing executive
  • Arts administrator
  • Information analyst

Other real-life job examples

  • Paralegal
  • Financial advisor
  • Management information officer

What employers like about this subject

A student who takes a philosophy degree will learn a range of subject-specific skills including metaphysics, which deals with appearance and reality; ethics, dealing with the nature of morality, and the philosophy of the nature of the mind. Transferable skills you can develop on a philosophy degree include excellent communication and negotiating skills, self-motivation and independent working and the ability to understand and articulate complex information. Philosophy graduates are flexible and found throughout the economy, particularly in universities, the social and welfare industries, hospitals, advertising and the finance industry (especially accountancy, audit, banking and consultancy).