Caitlin Evans studied BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics between 2017-20. Here she shares the highlights of her studies at Birmingham.
Hi there! My name is Caitlin and I’m a final year BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics student originally from South Wales.
I chose Birmingham specifically to study my course for a number of reasons. When I applied in 2017, Birmingham were one of only very few UK universities to offer the Philosophy, Religion and Ethics combination as a single honours degree. This programme appealed to me as it offered a varied range of modules whilst also leading to numerous career paths. In addition, both the Philosophy and Theology & Religion departments at Birmingham are very well respected and highly ranked.
I also fell in love with the beautiful, green campus whilst attending an Applicant Visit Day which confirmed to me that Birmingham was where I wanted to study.
This question is a hard one to answer as I have loved studying so many modules throughout my degree!
I would have to say my favourite Philosophy module was the second year ‘Ethics of Killing’ course which involved studying a variety of interesting topics such as euthanasia, abortion, killing in self-defence and killer robots in war.
My favourite Theology & Religion module was the final year ‘Christmas & Ethical Consuming’ module. I had the opportunity to create my own question for the assignment for this module which enabled me to explore a topic area I am particularly interested in. My essay focused on ways in which the law can be amended to ensure consumption around Christmas time is more ethical so that the detrimental effect consuming has on the environment is minimised.
Although many of my coursemates studied Philosophy & Ethics at A Level, I only studied Religious Studies A Level. However, I did not find that this put me at any disadvantage whatsoever as the Philosophy, Religion and Ethics programme is designed on the basis that students have no prior knowledge in these subject areas. Therefore, compulsory introductory modules in the first year are tailored to bring everyone up to speed so that all students have an equal foundational knowledge before entering their second year.
I found the final year the most challenging because the work is more difficult, and i had to do some really important assignments like my dissertation and an extended piece of independent work. So as to keep on top of it all I scheduled a number of one-to-one appointments with the Academic Writing Advisory Service in order to discuss my essay plans.
These appointments made me feel more confident about writing my assignments and arguably improved my grades. In order to manage the increased workload, I created a timetable to map out when I would work on each assignment, as at times I had three to juggle at once. Creating this plan made my workload feel more manageable.
A highlight of mine was when my first-class exam script for the ‘Introduction to the Study of Religion’ module was selected to be added to the College of Arts and Law’s Bank of Assessed Work. This is an online resource which gives Arts and Law students access to real examples of assessed work and feedback in order to help improve their academic writing. I was really pleased that my work could be of use to students taking the same module in the future.
In my final year I completed a 6000-word Theology & Religion dissertation entitled ‘A Study of the Role Religion Plays in UK Law Making’.
I plan to pursue a career in the legal sector. I have recently started to apply for Paralegal roles at law firms in order to get a foot in the door in this field of work.
In my final year I held the role of Student Experience Ambassador for the School of Philosophy, Theology & Religion which involved working closely with the Student Experience Officer for the PTR Department, in order to enhance undergraduate’s experiences whilst at Birmingham. For instance, I escorted a group of first year Philosophy, Religion & Ethics and Theology & Religion students on the ‘Sacred Spaces Tour’ which involved travelling to some of the key religious spaces in Birmingham to allow the students to familiarise themselves with the religious practices of a number of religions.
I especially love the versatile nature of my course given the wide array of optional modules to choose from. This enabled me to tailor my degree to my specific interests. For instance, I am particularly interested in ethics, therefore, I opted to take modules such as The Ethics of Killing and Sex, Ethics and Philosophy. I also like that my course and department are relatively small in comparison with other courses/departments. This enabled me to get to know my course mates and department staff on a first-name-basis.