Our BA Philosophy will feed your intellectual curiosity and challenge your thinking. You’ll acquire the skills required to dig deeper into ideas and question received wisdom. You’ll rigorously examine the most fundamental questions about human life: Does God exist? Is material success all that counts in life? What do I owe to others? How free am I to decide my own future?
At Essex, we take philosophy back to its roots in everyday existential, social, and political problems. We embrace the relevance of philosophy to other forms of enquiry - political, cultural, legal, medical, aesthetic – and bring this to bear on urgent issues in public life, such as the controversial issues raised by mental health legislation or public policy regarding end of life care.
We cover a wide range of topics from the meaning of life to capitalism and its critics, from ancient philosophy to current trends in European thought; and we have particular strengths in the areas of:
Philosophy of religion
European philosophy (including critical theory, phenomenology, and existentialism)
We are involved in many exciting and interdisciplinary research projects, and have active links with other areas including Political Science, Law, Sociology, Psychoanalysis, and Art History. We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).
Why we're great.
We focus on the existential questions of human life, and provide a critical perspective on the social, political and economic challenges we are facing today.
Our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad.
We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021)
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Student Development Team.
If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our courses are taught by world-class academics and we are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).
Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff are known for our unique combination of Anglo-American and European philosophy, and as a leading centre for critical theory, phenomenology, German idealism and medical humanities. Some recent projects and publications include:
Timo Jütten’s major new Leverhulme-funded research project, Competition and Competitiveness
Irene ene McMullin’s Existential Flourishing: A Phenomenology of the Virtues (Cambridge, 2018)
Steve Gormley’s Deliberative Theory and Deconstruction: A Democratic Venture (Edinburgh, 2020)
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
We know that the world of work is changing. Employers want graduates who can think laterally logically and creatively about practical problems and are effective communicators.
At Essex, we are serious about providing you with a teaching environment in which you develop the skills you need to flourish in the discipline, and to be prepared for the jobs you aspire to in the future.
A degree in Philosophy at Essex provides you with:
The ability to analyse and solve difficult problems
The ability to think clearly, creatively, and self-critically
The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
Philosophy graduates are therefore well-suited to a wide range of occupations, including law, PR, journalism and the media, the Civil Service, charity work, banking, and the NHS.
We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
“I chose to study philosophy at Essex because I always knew the University had a good reputation for this subject. However nothing prepared me for just how brilliant it is! The atmosphere in School of Philosophy and Art History is fantastic; the lecturers are some of the most enthusiastic and interesting people you will ever meet, and so passionate about what they teach.”
Jennifer Bass, BA Philosophy
UK entry requirements
IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.
Access to HE Diploma: 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit
What if I have a non-traditional academic background? Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.
You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here
If you are a mature student, further information is here
International & EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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where you'll find this information.
Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications
If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, or in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components and modules explained
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
What this means
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of ethics and epistemology (the theory of knowledge) virtuous knowers, and healthy knowledge communities. What does it mean to say that we ‘know’ something? How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of objects? Are there vices of the mind that distort our reasoning and lead our practical deliberations astray? How important is trust in a functional knowledge community? What guidance do ethical theories offer us in navigating the challenges we face, both individually (for example, in relation to how we treat animals) and collectively (notably the climate emergency)? What methods can we use to make progress in thinking about ethical questions? Can the study of philosophy help us flourish as moral and intellectual agents?
Making the transition from school to University studies can be challenging. This module will introduce you to University life and enable you to acquire the study skills to make a success of your degree. It also orients you to work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities so that you can acquire additional skills and experience while you study.
What is the nature and limits of human knowledge? What role, if any, does God play in knowledge? Does our common-sense view of the world have a philosophical foundation? Does sensory experience provide the only path to knowledge of the world or can we gain knowledge through the exercise of pure reason? What is the relation between the body and the mind? Study the philosophical texts of the modern era that helped lay the conceptual foundations for these questions and others. We will begin with a close reading of Descartes' Meditations before exploring both rationalist (Spinoza and Leibniz) and empiricist (Locke and Hume) responses.
This is a module in ethical theory rather than applied ethics – that is, it takes up theoretical questions about the status and justification of morality rather than addressing directly practical moral problems. The exact focus will vary from year-to-year. This year, we will investigate one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While students might have had a chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to a focused critical reading of Kant’s ethical theory. We will investigate Kant’s conception of morality, his attempt to derive morality from his conception of freedom, and his attempt to derive a system of property-based political rights from his conception of morality. Our texts will be Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and portions of Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals.
This is an intensive final-year module running over five weeks during the summer term. It involves a guided and structured approach to support students in completing a research project of their own. The theme for Summer Term 2022 will be Challenges to Human Flourishing. Students will be introduced to two major research traditions in Philosophy that bear on this theme: (1) Critical Theory and (2) Phenomenology and Existentialism, both of which offer powerful resources for thinking about the nature of the good life and the many obstacles to realising it that we face.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
Teaching typically takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions
Seminars allow your lecturer to explain new arguments and ideas in more detail, while giving you sufficient time for questions, collective discussion and active engagement with the material
We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
In the second and final-year of your degree, we add an additional contact hour to each module
In the Summer term of the second and final-year of your degree we offer additional modules which cover additional topics and develop your research skills
In your first year, modules are typically assessed by essays and exams (with most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams).
We are the first Philosophy Department in the UK that has scrapped all formal exams in the second and final-year of your degree
In place of exams, we have a whole range of innovative assessments (e.g. essays, in-class assessments, presentations, group work, reading summaries) designed to boost your transferable skills
Fees and funding
Fees will increase for each academic year of study.
Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.
Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.
The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.
You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.
If you are an undergraduate student residing in the UK who has received an offer to study with us in October 2023, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Applicant Days. Our Colchester Campus Applicant Days run from February to May 2023 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus Applicant Days run from March to June 2023 on various weekdays and Saturdays. Applicant Days provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. We appreciate that travelling to university events can be expensive. This is why we have increased our Applicant Day Travel Bursary cap, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Applicant Days, including Terms and Conditions and eligibility criteria for our Travel Bursary, please visit our Applicant Days webpage.
If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Applicant Days if you are able to, so if you’d like to book a place, please contact our Applicant Day Team at email@example.com
Visit Colchester Campus
Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and
Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.