Our course provides a wide-ranging and sound academic grounding in the disciplines of philosophy and history. You identify the relevance of philosophy to other forms of enquiry, for example social, political, cultural and in particular historical, and learn to actively connect these two fields of study. This is facilitated by the shared interests of our two departments and our strong commitment to interdisciplinary study.
You study topics including:
Philosophy of religion
culture, identity, citizenship
We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).
Why we're great.
We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy.
Our Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is the most comprehensive Latin American art research resource in the UK.
98% of our Department of History graduates are in employment or further study (Graduate Outcomes 2022).
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.
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)
Our history staff are among world leaders in their field, and our enthusiasm for our subject is infectious. Our flexible course is combined with a supportive structure which helps you to pursue the modules best-suited to your interests. We welcome you into our scholarly community, and value your views.
Our teaching and research concentrates on the period from 1500 to the present and covers a wide geographical area that includes British and European history, as well as Latin America, the USA, China, Russia and Africa.
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
We have several Special Collections in history, including the Essex Society for Archaeology and History Library, the Harsnett Collection, the Hervey Benham Oral History Sound Archive, the Bensusan Collection, and the Colchester Medical Society Library
Access a variety of textbooks and journals in our Albert Sloman Library which houses materials on Latin America, Russia and the US that are of national significance
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.
Our students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including law, PR, project management, journalism and the media, teaching, librarianship, the Civil Service, banking, the police and fashion design.
A degree in Philosophy and History 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
We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
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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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?
Rebellious Pasts: Challenging and Creating Histories
The past is never dead. It’s not even past’. In a world of conspiracy theories, toppling statues, and ‘culture wars’, the novelist William Faulkner’s most famous line resonates more than ever. Across the globe, History is co-opted to multiple causes and used to justify contradictory positions. Such uses of History often rely on myths, stereotypes, and misunderstandings. How can we separate political belief, personal opinion, and false information about the past from historical knowledge and understanding?
Rebellious Pasts looks at the creation, consolidation, and operation of historical myths and stereotypes – and at how we, as historians, can use the tools of our trade to identify and challenge misleading representations of the past, replacing them with richer forms of understanding. The module helps you to develop the critical mindset needed to analyse historical arguments wherever you find them, but also the constructive skills essential to researching and writing your own histories. It combines lectures and seminars exploring how history “works” in different contexts with archive visits and library workshops that expose you to the raw materials of History.
On Rebellious Pasts, you will undertake self-directed research drawing upon digitized collections, archives, and heritage sector institutions, and translate your findings into accessible public history artefacts. At its heart, History is the refusal to accept easy assumptions and the insistence on negotiating with evidence, no matter how tricky that is. By the end of the module, you will understand why History is a rebellious discipline – and how to harness its unruly powers.
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.
History is never neutral. It is always a response to the questions historians choose to ask of the past. Historians decide what questions to ask for all kinds of reasons – out of interest, to aid understanding of specific aspects of the world around them, because certain types of evidence are available, or because the work of other historians has prompted them to think anew. These questions shape the evidence that historians look at, and therefore the kinds of answers they are likely to find. History is always a trialogue between the historian, the questions, and the evidence – and it is therefore a product of the present as well as the past.
Exploring History focuses on the relationship between questions and evidence in forming historical knowledge. Consolidating and extending the skills and abilities introduced in the Year 1 module Rebellious Pasts, it charts the development of the historical discipline, examines specific examples of historical debate (or what is known as “historiography”), and introduces you to different types of historical evidence and ways of analysing this evidence. Through exploring historical debates you will gain new insight into how history is researched, written, and contested. Through in-depth examinations of different kinds of primary sources you will develop new skills in historical research. Finally, you will bring these abilities together to research and write an extended essay on a topic of your choice, developing and practising the skills you will employ in your final year History Research Project.
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 takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
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
Usually assessed by 2,000-3,000 word essays
Most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams
First year marks do not count towards your degree class
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.