Philosophy PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

Image for Philosophy PhD (On-Campus or by Distance Learning)

We offer promising candidates the opportunity to study in a department that is strongly committed to delivering the highest quality of philosophical research. Our expert supervision spans across a wide range of areas, including: Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science; Philosophy of Language; Moral Philosophy (theoretical and applied); Metaphysics and Epistemology; and Philosophy of Religion.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Distance learning, doctoral research

Study Options: Full time

Duration: PhD – 3 years full-time; 6 years part-time, MA by Research – 1 year full-time; 2 years part-time

Start date: September


The PhD – the most advanced research degree – leads to a dissertation of up to 80,000 words under the expert guidance of a supervisory committee. You will be assigned a lead supervisor from our full-time staff and one or more co-supervisors drawn from our entire staff, including Distinguished Research Professors. You can study for a PhD on campus or by Distance Learning. 

You can study an MA by Research or PhD programme on campus or by distance learning. Please note that if you are studying with us by distance learning, there is a compulsory annual visit to campus (every two years for part-time PhD students) - please see our frequently asked questions about distance learning to find out more.

All PhD candidates are provided with regular meetings with the members of their supervisory committee. The principal role of these meetings is to guide candidates through the process of conceiving, researching and writing their dissertations. In addition, the departmental Director of Research Students will function as an academic advisor, providing general academic assistance and guidance. And you will also be given a departmental Mentor to assist with pastoral care and more practical issues. Additional research training is available and you will be provided with office space and computer, printing and copying facilities.

You are also encouraged to attend a weekly PG Research Seminar and the regular meetings of the Department's Philosophy Society, and Staff Seminar, as well as to apply for funds to attend and participate in graduate conferences.

If you are interested in our postgraduate research programmes in Philosophy, please have a look at our research areas and contact the departmental Director of Research Admissions (Professor Scott Sturgeon,, for advice on formulating your research proposal.

Profiles of our current Philosophy doctoral researchers

At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are currently as follows:

  • Home / EU £4,052 full-time; £2,026 part-time
  • Overseas: £13,195 full-time; £6,597.50 part-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

Learn more about postgraduate tuituion fees and funding.

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To be eligible for these awards, candidates must hold either an offer of a place to study or have submitted an application to study at the University. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

Candidates are normally required to have at least an upper second-class honours degree with a significant philosophical component.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Additional Guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application


When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Research interests of staff

Distinguished Research Professor Paul Boghossian

  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of language

Professor Boghossian will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Professor Lisa Bortolotti

  • Philosophy of psychology
  • Philosophy of psychiatry
  • Empirically informed philosophy of mind
  • Biomedical ethics

Dr Darragh Byrne

  • Reference
  • Consciousness (especially semantic and epistemic issues)
  • First-person knowledge
  • A priori knowledge
  • Objectivity, realism and anti-realism
  • Rule-following and the normativity of meaning

Distinguished Research Professor Hartry Field

  • Philosophy of mathematics
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Logic
  • Philosophy of science
  • Philosophy of language

Professor Field will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Distinguished Research Professor Kit Fine

  • Metaphysics
  • Logic
  • Philosophy of language

Professor Fine will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Dr Nikk Effingham

  • Analytic metaphysics (including areas that crossover into philosophy of mind and philosophy of science)
  • Certain areas of philosophy of religion

Dr Nicholas Jones

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of language

Dr Iain Law

  • Metaethics
  • Applied ethics
  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Ethical theories

Dr Elizabeth Miller

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Science

Professor Yujin Nagasawa

  • Philosophy of religion
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Applied philosophy (medical ethics, meaning of life, death)

Distinguished Research Professor Stephen Neale

  • Philosophy of language and linguistics
  • Logic
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Metaphysics

Professor Neale will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Professor Ian Rumfitt

  • Philosophy of language
  • Philosophy of logic
  • Philosophy of mathematics

Distinguished Research Professor Susanna Siegel

  • Perception
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Epistemology

Professor Siegel will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Dr Alex Silk

  • Philosophy of language
  • Normative ethics
  • Metaethics
  • Formal semantics and pragmatics

Dr Maja Spener

  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of psychology and cognitive science
  • Epistemology

Professor Scott Sturgeon

  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of science
  • Philosophy of mind

Dr Jussi Suikkanen

  • Metaethics
  • Ethical theories
  • Happiness and wellbeing
  • Population ethics and ethics of global warming
  • Practical reason, reasons, rationality, and value
  • Certain topics in political philosophy such as distributive justice

Distinguished Research Professor Ralph Wedgwood

  • Metaethics
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of language

Professor Wedgwood will co-supervise students with other members of staff. For more information, please contact Professor Scott Sturgeon.

Professor Heather Widdows

  • Bioethics and public health
  • Global ethics, global justice, and duties beyond borders
  • Iris Murdoch
  • Moral theory, particularly virtue ethics
  • Neo-colonialism and multiculturalism
  • Women's rights and reproductive rigths
  • Ethics of war, terrorism and torture
  • The application of moral theory to policy and practice

Dr Jeremy Williams

  • Moral and political philosophy
  • Applied ethics (especially abortion and ethics of war)

Dr Alastair Wilson

  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of physics
  • Philosophy of science


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Birmingham?s Philosophy postgraduates develop a range of skills that are highly desirable in the job market, including: articulacy; precise analytical thought; clarity; rigour in formulating complex problems; and the ability to analyse and construct sound arguments.

Over the past five years, over 93% of Philosophy postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Due to the transferable nature of their skills, Philosophy postgraduates traditionally enter a wide range of employment areas, from the Civil Service to finance. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: Afrikids (child rights organisation); Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust; Muslim Scout Fellowship; Rights and Humanity; University of Birmingham; and University of Edinburgh.