School of Philosophy and Art History

Undergraduate study

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Exploring the art of thought

You will learn to be attentive to your own experiences and to interrogate them critically and rigorously. You will learn to combine logic and reasoning with persistence, clarity and creativity. 

At Essex, you will learn how to think, not what to think. Art is everywhere and philosophy never sleeps: you will join a dynamic yet close-knit community that seeks to understand the world through asking the right questions, and by always being alert to the power of hidden truths and unexpected moments of beauty and meaning.

You will be taught by expert staff, dedicated to developing your full academic and personal potential. Our school is a friendly and lively environment, and you will be part of a large and active community of students.

Explore our undergraduate courses


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Why choose us?
  • You'll join a School that encourages you to ask questions, and explore your interests
  • We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy
  • Develop transferable skills relevant to a wide range of professions

What will you learn in your undergraduate degree?


You will learn to ask uncomfortable questions and interrogate accepted answers. Can ancient Greek and Christian thought help us respond to the threat of meaninglessness? Can Nietzsche, Sartre or Marx help us overcome modern alienation? Should we think of the self in terms of a narrative or is the self a fiction? Is it ethically permissible to cognitively enhance human beings? Can we have knowledge of the external world? What are the epistemic virtues that will help us resist a post-truth world? Our undergraduate philosophy modules provide you with the tools to understand and change the world as you find it.

Callum Marshall, who graduated in 2020 with a BA in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics explains why choosing to study Philosophy at Essex was the best choice he has made in life so far.


Explore undergraduate philosophy courses

Art history

We run single and joint honours degrees in art history and curating, driven by our world-class research and our curatorial experience. You will be taught with an expansive and innovative approach to the history of art, taking in everything from the Renaissance through Surrealism to contemporary art, from depictions of witches to tattoo history, from medical portraiture to activist art.

An Essex art history degree will give you a great foundation to take on any industry, whether that's following traditional routes into galleries and museums, into unexpected routes like business, law and government, or into creative industries such as television, media and the ever-evolving digital world. 


Explore undergraduate art history courses

Interdisciplinary Studies Centre

Do you see yourself becoming a global change-maker? Do you enjoy exploring European culture or the complexities of Latin America? Do you have an opinion on our current global social climate? As an Interdisciplinary Studies Centre student, you can combine academic disciplines within flexible, bespoke, self-directed degree schemes. With a spine of core provision, you have the freedom to build the degree that’s right for you. We offer undergraduate degrees in global studiesAmerican (US) studies, European studies, Latin American studies, liberal arts, and an exciting brand new degree for 2020, BA Social Change.


Explore undergraduate ISC courses
Dr Matt Lodder on the set of his new TV series
Essex expert co-hosts art history TV series

Essex art historian Dr Matt Lodder co-hosted a European television series aimed at bringing the world’s most famous art museums to a wider audience.

Read more

So, what do we have to offer?

Incredible facilities

Art Exchange

At Essex, you will have access to Art Exchange, which is our University gallery located right on our Colchester Campus. Students who are a part of our Centre for Curatorial Studies are also able to plan, direct and host exhibitions at Art Exchange, a rare and excellent opportunity to get real world experience in all aspects of the industry from both a practical, business and creative perspective.

Essex Collection of Art from Latin America

Located on our Colchester Campus, the Essex Collection of Art from Latin America (ESCALA) is home to more than 750 artworks, dating largely from the 1960s to the present. The University of Essex is the most complete resource for art from Latin America in the UK, and is primarily a teaching and research space. As a student, you will have access to the collection, the opportunity to work with ESCALA and contribute to it's online collection amongst other opportunities.


Learn more about our facilities

Study abroad

Can't decide between travelling the world or heading off to University? At Essex, you don't have to choose. At Essex, we too are full of wanderlust, which is why our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad at one of our partner institutions around the world. If you ask us, we think it's a perfect excuse to soak up a new culture, visit new areas of the world and combine it with your studies.

Placement year

Maybe you're interested in taking a year out to do a placement year? Placement years offer an exciting opportunity for personal development, for you to learn more about the industry you're interested in and to put the skills you've learnt into practice. Let's not forget how awesome your application will look when applying for jobs after you graduate too.

Preparation for life after graduation

Three years of dedicated study teaches you skills that are widely transferable and highly valued by employers across all business sectors. You will be assisted with professional development and your search for employment or further study. You will leave us ideally prepared for a wide range of roles in the media, advertising, museums and galleries, education, publishing, charities, fashion, government and public relations.

Our Careers Service also offer the chance to develop your employability through some fantastic and unique experiences and opportunities.

Philosophy graduate
"My favourite module during my degree was the research on German Idealism. I had the opportunity to conduct independent research around the work of G.W.F Hegel and how his ideas could be used to understand the development of contemporary philosophical and political problems that have arisen in the world today.”
Jack Murphy BA Philosophy (including year abroad) University of Essex
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Philosophy and Art History Undergraduate queries
Interdisciplinary Studies Centre Undergraduate queries