BA Philosophy and Sociology

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When studied together, Philosophy and Sociology offer a deeper insight into human behaviour, morality and society. This combined degree allows you to explore human life as both a philosopher and a social scientist, offering a challenging but unique perspective.

At the University of Birmingham, you will have access to world-class Philosophy talent in fields as diverse as Metaphysics, Philosophy of Psychiatry, Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion and Philosophy of Mind. Meanwhile, the Sociology side of you course will allow you to explore the dynamic, unprecedented social changes reshaping the world today and help you understand how social relations and structures influence all aspects of our lives.

Course fact file

UCAS code: VL53

Duration: 3 Years

Typical Offer: ABB (More detailed entry requirements and the international qualifications accepted can be found in the course details)

Start date: September

Details

The Philosophy Department at the University of Birmingham has an outstanding international reputation for excellence in teaching and research. The Department of Philosophy was ranked second in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. Sociology offers an equally high-quality teaching experience, having received an overall satisfaction rating of 93% in the National Student Survey.

With this combined degree, you will have the opportunity to tailor your programme by choosing modules from both disciplines. Philosophy modules include:

  • History of Philosophy
  • Moral and Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Sexual Ethics
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Ethics of Killing
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Early Modern Philosophy
  • The Mind-Body Problem

Sociology modules include:

  • Globalisation
  • Changing nature of work and the family
  • Gender roles and sexuality
  • Multiculturalism
  • Impact of the media
  • New forms of politics

We provide you with training in crucial philosophical skills, with modules on reasoning and logic. There is also a strong emphasis on developing social science research skills – strongly valued by employers – with research methods training in each year.

Ultimately, Philosophy and Sociology, in combination, allows you to critically engage with some of the deepest questions human beings have asked across history, in combination with key issues facing contemporary societies.

Why study this course

  • Excellent employability – 90% of our Philosophy graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation.
  • Great reputation – Sociology was ranked 11th out of 88 institutions in the 2015 Guardian League Tables.
  • Taught by experts – You will study alongside some of the finest minds in Philosophy. We are ranked second among all Philosophy departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.
  • Extra-Curricular Activities – you will get the chance to take part in a range of in-house Sociology activities, designed to complement your curriculum. In the past, these have included student conferences, research visits and the Research Assistance Scheme.
  • Flexibility – the variety of modules on offer will allow you to specialise more as you progress so that you can study areas of the discipline which interest you the most. Almost all of our assessments are now based on coursework.

Modules

Please be aware that the following information is intended to provide prospective students with an indicative guide of the modules offered by the School. However, our research is constantly exploring new areas and directions of study, therefore some modules may be dropped and new ones offered in their place.

For this combined degree, you study half of your modules in Philosophy and half in Sociology.

First year

Philosophy: First year modules include Knowledge and Reality, History of Philosophy and The Individual and Society.

There are also two seminar-only modules: Philosophical Texts I, where you learn how to analyse and criticise some texts on a variety of topics, and Independent Study I, where you learn essay-writing and research skills and apply them by writing an essay on a philosophical topic of your choice.

Read more about first year Philosophy modules

Sociology: In your first year you will be introduced to degree level sociology through Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination, gain an understanding of stratification through Social Divisions, and learn the basics of research design and methods. 

Second year

Philosophy: In the second year, all students are given some freedom of choice, so you can pursue the topics and questions that interest and inspire you. Second year modules currently on offer include Thought and Language, Topics in the History of Philosophy, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind and Meta-ethics.

There is also Philosophical Texts II, where you focus on a single classic book by a particular author from a range of available texts, and Independent Study II, which gives you the opportunity to further hone your essay-writing skills by writing an essay on a question of your own devising.

Read more about second year Philosophy modules

Sociology: The second year builds on the first year by developing your understanding of Modern Sociological Theory, and introducing debates about the nature of Global Societies. You can choose a specialist option in either Gender and Sexuality or Ethnic Relations, and receive more advanced methods training in data analysis and preparation for your final year dissertation.

Third year

Philosophy: In the final year there is even more choice of modules. Some areas, like ethics and metaphysics, will be familiar to you, but will be studied at a more advanced level. Others modules, like the philosophy of Schopenhauer, will be new to you.

Another option is the Philosophical Project module, for which you research and write a dissertation with the help of a supervisor who advises you and generally guides you through the process.

Read more about third year Philosophy modules

Sociology: Your training in key sociological ideas is completed with a module on Contemporary Social Theory, and you can then specialise in the areas of the discipline that interest you most. Our teaching staff, who are active researchers, run options in their own specialist fields including.

Most importantly, you will research and write an independent, supervised dissertation, or extended essay, which brings together your research skills on a project defined by you. This can be focused on Philosophy, Sociology or a topic that bridges both disciplines.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply 
Learn more about fees and funding
 
Scholarships
Learn more about our scholarships and awards

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required: 3

Typical offer: ABB

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in the Birmingham Foundation Academy, a specially structured programme for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on the foundation academy web pages.

How to apply

Apply through UCAS at www.ucas.com.

Learn more about applying.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

Learning and teaching

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates

Support

You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Employability

By studying a Philosophy and Sociology degree at the University of Birmingham, you will acquire skills highly sought after by employers within the graduate job market:

  • Understanding complex information
  • Writing clearly and effectively
  • Building a case to critically assess a particular point of view
  • Respecting the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Independent thought
  • Ability to communicate, and knowledge of, social issues in private and public sectors
  • Strong and evidenced training in research methods

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 4th in the UK for graduate prospects in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015. Our graduates have excellent employment prospects with 90% of Philosophy graduates and 88% of Sociology graduates entering work or further study, within six months of graduation.

Philosophy and Sociology graduates go on to pursue highly successful careers in professions such as:

  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Management consultancy
  • Local government
  • Publishing
  • Marketing
  • Social Research
  • Media
  • Policy Development
  • Charity

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law undergraduate research scholarship scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.