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 and students on this programme rate it extremely highly. The course received an overall satisfaction rating of 90% in the National Student Survey 2016.  

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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 2nd in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. The Department is also ranked in the Top 10 among UK universities by all three major league tables (The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, the Guardian University Guide 2017 and the Complete University Guide 2017).

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
  • Minds, Brains and Computers
  • Prejudice, Race and Gender
  • Philosophy of Mathematics
  • Global Bioethics

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 student experience – our students gave the course a 90% overall satisfaction rating in the National Student Survey 2016.
  • Taught by experts – You will study alongside some of the finest minds in Philosophy. We are ranked 2nd among all Philosophy departments in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework 2014. The Department is also ranked 3rd in the Guardian University Guide 2017, 5th in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017, and 6th in the Complete University Guide 2017. 
  • 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.

Hear from our students


The modules listed on the website for this programme may 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.

BA Philosophy students take the three compulsory modules, a Widening Horizons module from outside of the Department and choose 60 credits of optional modules.

Compulsory modules:

  • Problems of Philosophy (20)
  • Reasoning (10)
  • Logic (10)
  • Widening Horizons module (20)

Optional modules:

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

Second year

In second year, no modules are compulsory so you have the freedom to pursue the topics and questions that interest and inspire you the most.

All of the modules below carry 20 credits, so BA Philosophy students take either six philosophy modules or five plus an Widening Horizons module.The range of modules on offer may differ a little from year to year, but the following are currently available.

Optional modules:

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

Year abroad

You can apply to study abroad for a year in an approved university around the world. If you achieve a grade of 2.1 or above in your first year then you will be invited to apply for a Year Abroad in your second year. If your application is successful, you will go abroad in your third year and return to us for your final year. Find out more.

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.  The range of optional modules on offer may differ a little from year to year, but the below are currently available. 

In addition five optional modules, BA Philosophy students undertake independent research of their own and, with help from a supervisor, write a dissertation on a topic of their own choosing. 

Compulsory modules:

  • Philosophical Project (20)

Optional modules:

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

Fees and funding

For UK students beginning their studies in September 2017, the University of Birmingham will charge the maximum approved tuition fee per year. The fees for your first year of study will therefore be £9,250. Visit our tuition fees page for more information.

Fees for 2017/18 are as follows:

  • Home / EU: £9,250
  • Overseas: £15,570

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
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee

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:
A level Philosophy or Religious Studies is desirable but not essential. If taken, it will be required at grade B or above.
General Studies:
Not accepted.

Additional information:

BTEC Extended Diploma, Diploma and Subsidiary Diploma are all considered on a case by case basis - contact us for further guidance.

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements.

International students:

International Baccalaureate Diploma: 6,6,5 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

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.

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 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.


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.

Contact hours

You can expect approximately 8 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.


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.

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
  • Respecting the views of others even if they disagree with you
  • Generally thinking for yourself

The University of Birmingham has been awarded University of the Year for Graduate Employment by The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016. Our graduates from the Department of Philosophy have excellent employment prospects with 85% of graduates entering work or further study within six months of graduation (DLHE 2015).

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.