Have you ever thought about the meaning of life? Contemplated if time travel is possible? Considered whether computers could ever become conscious? If you’re used to asking questions like this, then a Philosophy degree may just be for you.
1. Answer the BIG questions.
Why is there something rather than nothing? Can we prove or disprove the existence of God? What's the meaning of life? Do we have free will? Is morality objective? What is the connection between mind and the brain? Is global equality achievable?
Philosophers have discussed these questions (and many more) for centuries and developed fascinating answers to them. Other academic fields simply do not address such fundamental questions.
2. Delve deeper and become an independent philosopher
During an undergraduate degree, students get a good sense of what the different answers to these kind of fundamental philosophical questions are. However, during a Master’s degree, you get a much better sense of the fact that these questions are still open and progress is constantly being made in an effort to answer them. You will learn how to be an independent philosopher and contribute to the philosophical debates about these issues.
3. Philosophy helps us understand the world that we live in
In 2020, the United Kingdom is dealing with a global pandemic, the United States has witnessed widespread protest against police violence and institutional and overt racism along with protests against American and British racism in the UK, whilst there is continuing concern about the impact of Brexit.
All of these issues raise at their core essential philosophical questions and a Masters level Philosophy programme will provide you with the essential concepts to think about the answers to these real-life questions.
It will also give you a much better sense of the arguments and philosophical views that are often expressed in public debates, and it gives you the tools to critically evaluate those views and arguments. After studying philosophy, you are in much better position to form and articulate your own views on these issues and to defend them in public forums.
4. The world needs creative thinkers more than ever
Right now, creativity is in demand and that is the reason many businesses are now hiring philosophers. Thanks to the advancement of information technology, virtually all basic tasks can now be done by computers and robots and this is rapidly changing the way we work and live. The globalisation of the world has raised numerous moral and political issues at a fundamental level and we now need creative and flexible thinkers to address these emerging issues.
5. Whatever your background, interests or career path – there are Philosophical questions to be answered
Philosophy is unique amongst academic subjects in that you find it applicable to some aspect of pretty much whatever else you happen to be interested in.
If you love art, you find it's a philosophical question what gets to count as art - is it just whatever gets put in art galleries? Whatever anyone we're collectively happy to call an artist happens to produce? Does it have to be beautiful? Instructive? And if not, what is the relation between its being art and its being, say, beautiful?
If you're fascinated by politics, you might wonder what the best way to organise a just society would look like, whether it matters if elected politicians lie to you, and so forth.
More technical fields have associated philosophical questions as well. If you're interested in science, you might ask yourself why the experimental method is the best way to discover truths about the world. That's not a question that can be answered experimentally, so it isn't itself that sort of scientific question. More abstractly still, we might wonder what it takes for some assertion about the world to count as true.
6. Perfect for your career
You can acquire all sorts of transferable skills from studying philosophy. In philosophy, we read a lot of texts addressing abstract concepts and analyse philosophers' views and arguments using logical tools. We also develop our own arguments and try to persuade others. To be a good philosopher, you have to be a good analyst, thinker, writer and communicator. These skills are useful in any industry.
The skills you’ll learn are general and wide-ranging enough to open up careers in policy research, the third sector through charities and NGOs, the law, the civil service, and of course further study in philosophy itself where you might eventually make contributions to the future Philosophy curriculum, of the kinds you will study as a Master's student.
7. You could study in Birmingham!
If you chose to study Philosophy at Birmingham, you would be joining one of the Top 100 Philosophy departments in the world (QS 2020). Full of likeminded thinkers and researchers, the Department is home to several flexible Philosophy programmes allowing you to study the topics that interest you either on campus or via our Distance Learning routes.
8. It’s never ending
An enthusiasm for pretty much anything can spark a more abstract interest in philosophy. And with the openness of the dissertation component of our Master's programmes at Birmingham, and the range of expertise in the department, there is the chance to specialise in a very wide range of these areas of Philosophy.
If you’re interested in finding out more about why Philosophy is important, we recommend ‘Philosophy Why It Matters’, written by Dr Michael Rush and Professor Helen Beebee. Dr Rush is Admissions Tutor for the Philosophy MA and MSc programmes at the University of Birmingham.
Explore our Philosophy programmes now