BA Philosophy

Philosophers will argue about anything…even about what philosophy is. So if you disagree with any of the following, you are probably the perfect candidate for Philosophy.

Philosophy is for people who find they are bothered by questions that their friends can cheerfully ignore; people who do not want to settle for conventional answers and received wisdom, but want to arrive at answers that stand up to the most searching examination.

Studying Philosophy at the University of Birmingham will give you access to world-class talent in fields as diverse as Metaphysics, Philosophy of Psychiatry, Epistemology, Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Mind and many others. You will enjoy a rich and engaging academic experience as students on this programme rate it extremely highly. 95% reported that they are satisfied with the quality of the course in the latest National Student Survey.  

Lauren Gates

Lauren Gates

“One of the best things about the Department of Philosophy is how knowledgeable the staff are, and their willingness to provide guidance beyond the lecture to ensure that every student succeeds. My favourite module is Ethics of Killing. It introduces interesting issues such as ‘why might killing be OK in war or self-defence?’ and ‘where do you draw the line?’. I also enjoy including my own thoughts and evaluating other peoples’ arguments in my essays.”

Philosophy 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.

On this programme, you will meet the great minds of history and the present day on equal terms, not just learning what they thought, but engaging with them critically. You will focus on the fundamentals of western philosophy, including its history and contemporary concerns, with modules covering topics such as History of Philosophy, Moral and Political Philosophy, and Philosophy of Science. We also provide you with training in crucial philosophical skills, with modules on reasoning and logic.

You will have the opportunity to tailor your programme so that you can focus on the areas of the discipline that interest you most. For example you can choose from modules such as:

  • Nietzsche
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender
  • Philosophy of Mathematics
  • Global Bio-ethics

Overall the emphasis of our BA Philosophy course is on helping you to acquire the philosophical skills and background knowledge that will enable you to engage with some of the deepest questions human beings have ever asked. 

Why study this course

  • Excellent employability – 90% of our Philosophy graduates enter work, or full time study, within six months of graduation.
  • 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.
  • Friendly and relaxed atmosphere staff within the Department of Philosophy know students by name and are always happy to talk about philosophical questions and provide additional feedback on academic performance.
  • 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.
  • Study aboard – You will have the opportunity to experience student life in a new environment. Our programme allows you to spend the third year of your degree studying Philosophy at an overseas university.

Hear from our students

Open day talk


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.

First year

In your first year we offer a thorough grounding in mainly mainstream western philosophy, with some modules based around philosophical problems (e.g. the problem of scepticism, the problem of free will, and so on), some based around important historical figures (e.g. Aristotle, Descartes, Hobbes and Rousseau), and some aimed at providing you with the skills you need to study philosophy in later years.

Compulsory modules:

  • Problems of Philosophy
  • Reasoning

Optional modules:

  • Ethics: How Should We Live?
  • Epistemology: What and How do We Know?
  • Philosophical Traditions
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Political Philosophy: Can Power be Legitimate?
  • Ethics: Issues of Life and Death
  • Moral Problems: An Introduction to Applied Ethics
  • Ancient Philosophy: Plato and Aristotle 

Second year

You will be given far more freedom of choice, with no modules being compulsory, so that you can pursue the topics and questions that interest and inspire you.

All of the modules below carry 20 credits, so Single Honours students take either six philosophy modules or five (plus an MOMD) and Joint Honours students will normally  take three(Joint Honours students may in many programmes take more credits in one of their subjects than in the other, so some Joint Honours students might take 2 or 4 modules). The range of modules on offer may differ a little from year to year, but the following are currently available.

Second year modules include:

  • The Mind-Body Problem
  • Elements of Logic and Metaphysics
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Speaking of Things
  • Logic: its Limits and Scope
  • Sex, Ethics and Philosophy
  • The Ethics of Killing
  • The Ethics and Politics of Climate Change
  • Experience and Reason: Early Modern Philosophy
  • History of Analytic Philosophy

Final year

The modules on offer at this level are informed by lecturers’ research interests to a greater degree than before, and students should begin to get a real feel for philosophy at the cutting-edge. In addition to four or five modules below, Singe Honours students undertake independent research of their own, and with help from a supervisor, write a dissertation on a topic of their own choosing. Joint Honours students may do the same, but if their other subject includes a dissertation they are not obliged to do another in Philosophy.

 Final year modules include:

  • Minds Brains and Computers
  • Topics in Philosophy of Religion
  • Global Bioethics
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender
  • Being Good and Doing Right
  • Nietzsche
  • Science and Nature
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Experience and Reason: Topics in Epistemology
  • What there is: Issues in Ontology
  • Philosophy of Mathematics
  • Philosophy of Time Travel
  • Detailed descriptions of final year modules


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

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • 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:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
if Philosophy or Religious Studies are taken at A level, we will require at least a grade B in these subjects
General Studies:
not accepted

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.

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry 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 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

Joint Honours combinations

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.

Students in the ERI building 

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


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.

Interactive classes are offered in modules which don't feature separate seminars. Here, lecturing time and discussion time are part of the same session and the structure of the classes can be very flexible.

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.


Each module is assessed independently by exams, essays or other forms of written assignment. Some modules are completely assessed by coursework. Most first-year modules are assessed by both an essay written during the year and an exam at the end of the year, with each given equal weight. The assessment for second- and third-year modules also varies. Many modules are assessed by two essays, while some are assessed by an essay and an exam. The Philosophical Project module is assessed by a single long essay of about 6,000 words.

By studying a Philosophy 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
  • Respect the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Generally think for yourself

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 from the Department of Philosophy have excellent employment prospects with 90% of graduates entering work, earning an average salary of £18,000 within six months of graduation.

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

  • Law
  • Journalism
  • Teaching
  • Management consultancy
  • Local government
  • Publishing
  • Marketing 

Therefore a degree in Philosophy from the University of Birmingham opens doors to a wide range of careers. Some graduates choose to progress to further study, not just in Philosophy but in Politics, International Development, Sociology and other areas. 

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.


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.