BA Philosophy and Sociology

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. Our Philosophy department was recently ranked 3rd in the Guardian University Guide 2017. Meanwhile, the Sociology side of your 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.

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Jemma Allen

Jemma Allen

“I would really recommend this course - the lecturers are experts in their fields, it is delivered well and sets you up for the future, teaching skills such as independent thought and how to develop your own arguments. Philosophy is very interesting, but it can also be intense and puzzling so it is good to be brought down to earth by Sociology. A Joint Honours degree allows you to gather a wide range of knowledge and introduces you to lots of opportunities.”

Our Philosophy department has an outstanding international reputation for excellence in teaching and research and is ranked 2nd in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014.

With this combined degree, you will have the opportunity to tailor your programme by choosing from a wide range of Philosophy and Sociology modules - from Ancient Philosophy and Ethics of Killing to Globalisation and Impact of the Media, for example.

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 – highly prized by employers – with research methods training in each year.

Ultimately, BA Philosophy and Sociology allows you to both critically engage with some of the deepest questions human beings have asked across history, while at the same time understand the challenges and opportunities of contemporary society.

Why study this course

  • Excellent employability – On average, 92% of our Philosophy and Sociology graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation.
  • Great reputation – The Department of Philosophy is ranked 3rd among UK universities in the Guardian University Guide 2017, while Sociology ranked highly in the latest Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide.
  • Taught by experts – You will study alongside some of the finest minds in both fields. The Department of Philosophy is ranked 2nd among all Philosophy departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014 and Sociology is part of the Department of Political Science and International Studies (POLSIS), a department that consistently scores highly in the National Student Survey and is viewed as one of the best of its kind in the country.
  • 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, allowing you to study the areas of both disciplines that interest you the most. Almost all of our assessments are now based on coursework.

Open day talks

Modules

The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

In this programme, your first year of study is split equally between Philosophy and Sociology (60 credits in each subject). Following this, you have the option to alter your balance of study, meaning that you could take 80 credits in one subject and 40 in the other in either or both second and third year, or stay with the 60/60 balance. 

First year

Philosophy:

Compulsory modules:

  • Problems of Philosophy (20 credits)
  • Reasoning (10) 
  • Formal Logic or Informal Logic (10)

You then choose 20 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • Ethics: How should we live? (10)
  • Epistemology: What and how do we know? (10)
  • Philosophical Traditions: Existentialism (10)
  • Philosophy of Religion (10)
  • Political Philosophy: Can power be legitimate? (10)
  • Moral Problems (10)
  • Ancient Philosophy (10)

Philosophy first year detailed module descriptions

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. 

Compulsory modules:

  • Research Skills and Literacy: Philosophy and Method in the Social Sciences (20 credits)
  • Social Divisions (20 credits)
  • Social Worlds and the Sociological Imagination (20 credits)

Second year

Philosophy

In second year, there are no compulsory Philosophy modules.

Depending on your chosen balance of study, you chose 40, 60 or 80 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • The Mind-Body Problem (20)
  • Elements of Logic and Metaphysics (20)
  • Feminist Philosophy (20)
  • Speaking of Things (20)
  • Logic: Its limits and scope (20)
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy (20)
  • The Ethics of Killing (20)
  • The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change (20)
  • Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy (20)
  • History of Analytic Philosophy (20)

Philosophy second year detailed module descriptions

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.

Compulsory modules:

  • Modern Sociology Theory (A+B) (20 credits)
  • Data Analysis & Research Design (20 credits)
  • Global Societies (20 credits) 

Third year

Philosophy

As in second year, there are no compulsory Philosophy modules in your final year.

You will be expected to undertake an independent research project. Joint Honours Philosophy students can chose to do this in either of their two disciplines. If you do a project in your other discipline, you are not obliged to do another in Philosophy.

Depending on your chosen balance of study, you chose 40, 60 or 80 credits out of the optional modules below:

  • Philosophical Project (20)
  • Minds, Brains and Computers (20)
  • Topics in Philosophy of Religion (20)
  • Global Bioethics (20)
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender (20)
  • Being Good and Doing Right (20)
  • Nietzsche (20)
  • Philosophy of Language (20)
  • Reason and Belief: Topics in Epistemology (20)
  • What There Is: Issues in Ontology (20)
  • Philosophy of Mathematics (20)
  • Science and Nature (20)
  • Philosophy of Time Travel (20)

Philosophy final year detailed module descriptions

 


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.

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.

Compulsory modules:

  • Dissertation (40 credits)
  • Contemporary Social Theory A & B  (20 credits)

Joint Honours Philosophy with a year abroad

Subject to satisfactory performance over your first two years, you may have the option of spending your third year studying Philosophy at an overseas university. You will then come back to Birmingham for your fourth and final year. 

Fees and funding

The Government has announced that it will raise the cap for undergraduate fees in line with inflation. Assuming that the relevant regulations are passed by Parliament, which is expected to happen in Autumn 2016, the University of Birmingham will increase fees to the revised amount, expected to be £9,250 for home/EU students. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250 - TBC
  • Overseas: £13,860

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

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
3
Typical offer:
ABB

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis.

Please be aware that you will need to meet the subject specific requirements for both subject areas within the degree programme - please check their Single Honours coursefinder entries for more information. If you need further guidance please contact us.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,5,5 in Higher level subjects plus 32 points overall.

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 one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

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.

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 advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Welfare tutors - We have dedicated welfare tutors who provide professional support, advice and guidance to students across a range of issues. They can meet with you to discuss extensions, disabilities, reasonable adjustments, extenuating circumstances, or talk through any problems you might be experiencing, and help you access wider support on campus and beyond.
  • 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.

During your first year it is important that you have a smooth transition into university. You will be able to talk to your tutors about this and discuss if there are particular areas where you need support.

Teaching staff

Students at the University of Birmingham are taught by a mixture of professors, senior lecturers, lecturers and doctoral researchers, thereby receiving a rich diversity of academic knowledge and experience. Many of our teaching staff have published important works about their areas of expertise, whilst others have taught at international institutions and can offer unique perspectives of their subjects.

You can find out more about the members of staff (including their qualifications, publication history and specific areas of interest) in their academic profiles linked below.

Contact hours

On the Philosophy side of your degree, you can expect approximately 4 contact hours each week throughout the course of your programme. Contact hours will vary across the years of the programme depending on the optional modules you take and as independent study becomes more of a focus.

Contact hours will be a combination of lectures and seminars and the independent research that you conduct in your final year will be supported by 1 to 1 supervision meetings with a lecturer.

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.

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 number one in the UK for graduate employment in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. Our graduates have excellent employment prospects with 93% of Philosophy graduates and 90% 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.

Birmingham has transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers 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.

Accommodation

Coming to Birmingham might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and culture, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work.

Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.