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Philosophy

BA (Hons)

Key facts


UCAS code

V500

Start dates

September 2020 / September 2021

Location

Harcourt Hill

Course length

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

UCAS Tariff Points

104

Overview


On our Philosophy course you’ll tackle some of the most exciting and fundamental questions about human nature and our place in the world. Can we understand what other people are thinking? Is morality real or a matter of opinion? Is science the only source of truth?

You won't just learn ‘about’ philosophy, we'll encourage you to become a philosopher in your own right.
We teach philosophy from a western, analytical perspective. But we also offer modules in eastern philosophy and issues around continental philosophy.

We offer modules exploring the work of:

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • the Hellenistic Philosophers
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Descartes, Hume and Kant. 

In addition you will explore:

  • the philosophy of language
  • the philosophy of science
  • the philosophy of religion
  • the philosophy of mind
  • ethics and metaphysics.

You can teach philosophy to children in schools through our ‘philosophy with schools’ programme.

We are a branch of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. We organise an exciting programme of public lectures across the city.

Combine this course


You can study this course as part of a combined honours degree. This course can be combined with:

How to apply


Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27

BTEC: MMM

Further offer details

If you accept a Conditional offer to this course as your Firm choice through UCAS, and the offer does not include a requirement to pass an English language test or improve your English language, we may be able to make the offer Unconditional. Please check your offer carefully where this will be confirmed for each applicant.

For combined honours, normally the offer will lie between the offers quoted for each subject.

Applications are also welcomed for consideration from applicants with European qualifications, international qualifications or recognised foundation courses. For advice on eligibility please contact Admissions: admissions@brookes.ac.uk

Entry requirements

Specific entry requirements

Please also see the University's general entry requirements.

English language requirements

Please see the University's standard English language requirements.

International qualifications and equivalences

Go

English requirements for visas

If you need a student visa to enter the UK you will need to meet the UK Visas and Immigration minimum language requirements as well as the University's requirements. Find out more about English language requirements.

Pathways courses for international and EU students

If you do not meet the entry requirements for this degree, or if you would like more preparation before you start, you can take an international foundation course. Once you enrol, you will have a guaranteed pathway to this degree if you pass your foundation course with the required grades.

If you only need to meet the language requirements, you can take our pre-sessional English course. You will develop key language and study skills for academic success and you will not need to take an external language test to progress to your degree.

Terms and Conditions of Enrolment

When you accept our offer, you agree to the Terms and Conditions of Enrolment. You should therefore read those conditions before accepting the offer.

Credit transfer

Many of our courses consider applications for entry with credit for prior learning. Each application is individually assessed by our credit entry tutors. 

If you would like more information about whether or not you may be eligible for the award of credit, for example from an HND, partly-completed degree or foundation degree, please contact our Admissions team.

We operate the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). All undergraduate single modules are equivalent to 7.5 ECTS credits and double modules to 15 ECTS credits. More about ECTS credits.

Application process

Full time Home / EU applicants

Apply through UCAS

Part time Home / EU applicants

Apply direct to the University

International applicants

Apply direct to the University

Full time applicants can also apply through UCAS

Tuition fees


Please see the fees note
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£13,900

Home (UK) full time
£9,250 (subject to confirmation, September 2020)

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module (subject to confirmation, Sept 20)

International / EU full time
£14,300

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees


2020 / 21
Home/EU full time
£9,250

Home/EU part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£13,900

2021 / 22
Home (UK) full time
£9,250 (subject to confirmation, September 2020)

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module (subject to confirmation, Sept 20)

International / EU full time
£14,300

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:
+44 (0)1865 483088

Please note tuition fees for Home/EU students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students.

Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning home and EU students at the maximum permitted level.

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course, if any, are detailed below.

We do not expect students to purchase any compulsory course books, as they are all available in the library. If students wish to purchase additional books to supplement their reading this is at their own discretion. Travel and associated costs of all work placements are the responsibility of the student, therefore it is advised that they organise placements bearing this in mind.

The published course and module descriptions were accurate when first published and remain the basis of the course, but the University has had to modify some course and module content in response to government restrictions and social distancing requirements. In the event of changes made to the government advice and social distancing rules by national or local government, the University may need to make further alterations to the published course content. Detailed information on the changes will be sent to every student on confirmation in August to ensure you have all the information before you come to Oxford Brookes.

Learning and assessment


From day 1 we will encourage you to become a philosopher in your own right. You will engage with the thoughts of great thinkers, from Plato to Kant. And examine current developments in areas such as:

  • the philosophy of mind and language
  • culture, gender and sexuality.

Our small, interactive classes will teach you to debate and discuss your ideas with confidence. As well as develop your own opinions about what it means to be a philosopher.

Students in a lecture

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

God, Religion and Philosophy

Does religion always have to be about God? In this module, you’ll get to grips with the key concepts of Western Philosophy of Religion. You’ll gain core critical skills as you dissect theism (the belief that a God exists and intervenes in the universe) and its key ideas. You’ll focus on attempts to prove the existence of God, and His key characteristics. You’ll also challenge the idea that religion always involves a god or gods, unearthing new accounts of religion and new ideas of ‘God’.

Introduction to Ethics

The purpose of this module is to get you thinking in a systematic and structured fashion about ethical matters. The module divides into two parts. The first concentrates on normative theory while the second looks at how various moral theories are applied in practical cases. Theories under discussion include consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, and particularism. Topics in applied ethics typically include abortion, euthanasia, animal welfare, poverty, and war.

Theory of Knowledge

What does it mean to know something? Is knowledge different from mere belief? And is knowledge actually possible?

In this module, you’ll get to know the great thinkers of the past, and explore what they say about knowledge. You’ll explore the minds of:

  • Plato 
  • Descartes
  • Hume
  • Locke
  • Berkeley.

You also focus on key debates about knowledge today. You’ll gain fantastic analytical skills as you consider:

  • the meaning of perception 
  • if we can know something through hearsay 
  • if we can know the world beyond our minds 
  • if there can be a scientific account of knowledge.

Right Wrong and Reason

What makes an action good or bad? Are morals absolute, or is morality just a matter of social convention? Can we judge members of a different society through our own moral rules?  

In this module, you’ll explore the views of the great thinkers of the past, such as Aristotle, Kant and Mill. You’ll reflect on what their theories mean for questions such as whether we should give to beggars on the streets of Oxford, or if we should do more for refugees. 

Reason and Argument

In this module, you’ll accelerate your career and gain the key tools to succeed in your Philosophy degree. You’ll unlock your potential for excellence, as you gain knowledge of:

  • basic philosophical concepts
  • how to read philosophy
  • how to identify a philosophical question.

You’ll also gain the knowledge to construct and evaluate a philosophical argument using logical reasoning. These are critical and analytical skills which are vital for work.

Human Nature

What does it mean to be human? Are humans the same as other animals? How do race and gender relate to human nature? In this module, you’ll explore some of the biggest questions facing humanity, and join philosophers throughout the ages in exploring human nature. You’ll gain core critical skills as you debate how best to study our nature. You’ll ask whether, if we’re products of evolution, human nature even exists. You’ll develop excellent analytical skills as you explore these ideas through cutting-edge work in philosophy, as well as:

  • feminist theory
  • cognitive science
  • evolutionary biology.

Introduction to Philosophy

In this module, you’ll explore philosophy and its main branches, unlocking the rich history of human thought on the biggest questions of existence. You’ll gain the core knowledge to succeed in your Philosophy degree, as you explore issues including: 

  • epistemology (the theory of knowledge)
  • philosophy of mind 
  • metaphysics 
  • ethics.

This course will give you a strong grounding in philosophy, and also serve as a key foundation for deeper study. 

Optional modules

Death, Disease and Doctors: Medicine and Society

You’ll examine the history of sickness and healing in society. You’ll look at how people have viewed medicine and disease, from 1650 to 2000. In seminars, we’ll investigate issues such as:

  • quackery
  • war and medicine 
  • forensic medicine
  • disease control
  • public health
  • madness and society
  • sexual health
  • the patient’s view.

Eastern Religious Philosophies

What can philosophies and religions teach us about being human? In this module, you’ll immerse yourself in key themes of Eastern religions, including the Buddhist and Hindu traditions. You’ll gain a core understanding of the philosophical foundations of different religious traditions. 

Foundations of Social Theory

In this module, you’ll explore the key themes of social theory. You’ll investigate the works of  influential sociological theorists, including Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber. And you'll investigate how their work has shaped sociology and its different traditions. 

You'll immerse yourself in current debates, developments and approaches to social theory. And you'll explore how these affect our social relations today. 

Politics in Comparative Perspective

In this module, you’ll investigate politics - and the struggle for power - across the nations. You’ll gain a clear introduction to how and why political systems differ in our world today. You’ll examine case studies from a wide range of states, and gain a strong insight into how different regimes function – from the democratic to the totalitarian.

Year 2

Compulsory modules

Ancient Greek Philosophy

Meet the two greatest philosophers of ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle. You’ll explore the key themes in Plato’s Republic and Artistotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, uncovering vital ethical and political issues. You’ll understand why these fascinating texts have influenced the history of philosophy. 

*If you’re a combined honours student, you only need to take Ancient Greek Philosophy OR Early Modern Philosophy as compulsory.

Early Modern Philosophy

Does anything exist outside our minds? Are our thoughts just a product of our senses? In this module, you’ll get to grips with early modern philosophy, and its core texts and ideas. In part 1, you’ll dive into Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, and gain core analytical skills as you examine his attempts to provide a firm basis for knowledge. In part 2, you’ll dig into Hume’s Treatise on Human Nature and his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, examining his attempts to construct a theory of the workings of the human mind. You’ll also explore the Immanual Kant’s views of space and time as developed in his book The Critique of Pure Reason

*If you’re a combined honours student, you only need to take Ancient Greek Philosophy

Optional modules

Continental Philosophy of Religion

In this module, you’ll investigate the philosophy of religion, and how it was shaped by key thinkers in the Continental European tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. You’ll gain valuable critical skills to succeed in your degree, as you critique the concept of God, and explore Feuerbach’s idea that God is nothing more than an expression of human nature and needs. 

We will consider the claims of Nietzsche that God is dead, of Marx that religion is an opiate for human suffering, and of Freud that religion is no more than a set of illusions, vain attempts to deal with the suffering of life. We will see that, from such an unpromising start, creative perspectives on what religion really involves emerge. You’ll also explore different responses to debates about God and religion.

Evolution and the Mind

How did we evolve from life-forms with no cognition, to beings who process 400 billion bits of information per second? In this module, you’ll get to grips with cognitive evolution - the idea that our minds have evolved over time. You’ll understand how humans think, and discover how the evolution of our minds has influenced our culture - from religion to the arts. You’ll explore the relationship between biological and cultural evolution, through topics including: 

  • cultural group selection
  • the epidemiology of representations
  • evolutionary psychology.

Philosophy as a Way of Life

What’s the difference between a philosopher and a doctor? In this module, you’ll explore the ancient Greek view that philosophers heal the soul, just as physicians heal the body. You’ll gain a strong knowledge of ancient philosophical thought, as you trace this thinking in the works of Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Stoics and the Sceptics and explore their views on such issues as:

  • does anger have a positive role to play in our lives or would we be better off without it?
  • Is death something to be feared?
  • what is the role of love in human life?
  • what are the benefits of a life of scepticism?

Language and Reality

How did language - the centre of our culture, family ties and business transactions -  develop? In this module, you’ll get to grips with fascinating debates around language, and why philosophers have been so drawn to it throughout history. You’ll gain core critical skills, as you consider questions around: 

  • what language is 
  • whether we can study it scientifically
  • the relationship between language and thought. 

Philosophy of Science

In this module, you’ll discover science, and its role in our society. You’ll get to grips with the main philosophical questions around scientific knowledge, and the methods we use to explore it. You’ll gain core critical skills as you consider classic philosophy of science topics, and investigate some new ideas. You’ll debate topics such as:

  • do the entities postulated by scientists really exist?
  • can scientific theories be falsified by observation?
  • is theoretical change in science a rational process?
  • how much of the biological world can be explained by appeal to natural selection?
  • what is the measurement problem in quantum mechanics?

Independent Study: Work and Community Related Learning

In this module, you’ll kickstart your career. You’ll pick your own work placement, based around your passions, and gain critical skills and opportunities for your future career. You’ll make important professional contacts, and hone your plans for the future. You’ll develop your self-reflection skills as you write a journal based on your experience. In recent years students have had placements working with charities, in schools, and in broadening access to higher education.

Year 3

Compulsory modules

Dissertation in Philosophy

This module gives you the chance to do research on a topic that fascinates you. You’ll have the support of expert staff, as you critically analyse and present your research on a pressing philosophical issue. Whether you’re investigating the ethics of artificial intelligence, fake news or feminist philosophy, you’ll shape your dissertation around your passions, and gain the skills for a groundbreaking career. 

Optional modules

Freedom, Justice and Political Theory

In this module, you’ll explore key political concepts, including: 

  • freedom
  • justice
  • the community.

You’ll also look at relevant concepts such as rights and equality. You’ll gain valuable critical skills as you explore the different methods we use to explore these concepts, and how they play out in the practical world of politics.
 

Independent Study Module

In this module, you’ll gain excellent skills for work and your degree. You’ll work independently on projects that fascinate you, with the support of our leading Philosophy academics. You’ll build on your knowledge of philosophy, and hone your ability to manage your projects and time successfully. Whether you’re focusing on eastern philosophy, the nature of the self or existentialism, you’ll shape your project around your passions and gain the skills for a fantastic career.

Medieval Philosophy

In this module, you’ll dive into medieval philosophy - an unfairly neglected period in western philosophy. You’ll explore the fascinating ideas of a wide range of medieval thinkers, whose work still influences philosophy today. You’ll also gain a strong knowledge of the historical gap between ancient Greek philosophy and today.

Metaethics

This advanced module is devoted to the sustained and detailed exploration of a topic introduced in the compulsory Introduction to Philosophy, namely, the realism vs. noncognitivism dispute in meta-ethics. The implications of meta-ethical theories for normative ethics will also be explored.

Metaphilosophy

What exactly is philosophy and how does it relate to, on the one hand, science, and, on the other, commonsense reflection? Is philosophy an armchair discipline or should it employ empirical methods? Is philosophy best done by experts or has everyone got an equally important contribution to make to the discipline? These questions will be explored by examining some of the most prominent views as to the nature of philosophy championed over the last hundred years. Particular emphasis is placed on Experimental Philosophy, a new approach in philosophy that insists that the philosopher should get out of their armchair and adopt empirical methods of the kind used in cognitive science.

Moral Vision

This module explores central topics in metaethics, the philosophical study of the nature of morality and moral judgment. You will explore such issues as:

  • are there objective moral facts?
  • when we make a moral judgment are we making a factual claim or merely expressing our emotions or preferences?
  • is morality culturally relative?
  • how do our moral judgments motivate our actions.

Philosophy of Mind

This module is designed to introduce you to one of the liveliest areas of current research: contemporary philosophy of mind. Much of the current work in the field is devoted to the task of explaining how mental phenomena can be accommodated within a physicalist framework.

Philosophy of Education

What’s the point of education? What do we hope to achieve by it? In this module, you’ll dig into core questions about education through a philosophical approach. You’ll gain excellent critical skills as you debate contemporary, historical and international perspectives. You’ll consider the groundbreaking texts that shape the way we understand educational desires and efforts, and you’ll reflect on your own educational experience. 

Space, Time and Being

In this module, you’ll understand a core branch of philosophy - metaphysics. You’ll explore both contemporary and historical answers to such fundamental questions as: 

  • do we have free will or all our actions determined?
  • What is the basic structure of reality?
  • what is the place of the mind in the physical world?
  • what is space and time and are they objective features of reality or constructs of the human mind?
     

Special Topics in Metaphysics

This module is designed to help you develop your reading and oral presentation skills. This is predominantly a student-led module. You will present seminar papers on classic philosophical works - either journal articles or chapters from seminal monographs - in the areas of metaphysics and the philosophy of logic. You will assess each other's presentations. You will also write an essay on a topic related to your seminar presentation.

The Moral Mind

Do our morals come from society or ourselves? How does emotion affect our moral judgement? In this module, you’ll explore the moral behaviour of humans, and our ideas of right and wrong. You’ll analyse the parts of the brain which create our moral behaviour and evaluation. You’ll also look at research on the philosophy of the mind, moral philosophy and cognitive science. And you’ll explore issues such as:

  • what motivates our moral behaviour
  • how morals evolved
  • how we develop moral beliefs.

Thought and Consciousness

In this module, you’ll get to know one of the liveliest areas of current research: contemporary philosophy of mind. You will explore issues such as:

  • What is the relationship between the mind and the brain?
  • How are our thoughts capable of being about phenomena that exist outside of the mind?
  • Where is the mind located? Is it in our skulls or does it stretch beyond the outer surfaces of our bodies?
  • Is consciousness a mystery or can it be explained from a scientific perspective?
     

Thinking in Dark Times

Why is there so much suffering in the world? Why do so many bad things happen? And can philosophy combat evil? In this module, you’ll dive into the problem of evil, and the philosophical ideas which underpin it. You’ll look at how philosophers have responded to dark events throughout history, and consider the social contexts of their ideas.  We move on from this to what is, perhaps, a more interesting and important question: how do we live when confronted with dark times? How might we act in such ways as to cultivate the good and to ensure that wickedness cannot flourish?

Work placements

Optional modules

Work placements

You will have the opportunity to undertake a work and community-related learning module as part of your degree. You’ll also have the opportunity to take part in the ‘philosophy with schools’ programme. This voluntary programme offers you specialist training before embarking on a placement in a local school, teaching philosophy to children as an enriching educational activity. Travel and associated costs of all work placements are the responsibility of the student, therefore it is advised that they organise placements bearing this in mind.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from that shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Learning and teaching

Our aim is to help you to think for yourself and maximise your academic potential. We foster a friendly and supportive environment in which you can develop your own thinking.
You’ll learn through a mix of:

  • interactive lectures
  • group discussions
  • seminars
  • online discussions
  • podcasts. 

We encourage you to continue debating issues outside the classroom by getting together with other students. As well as meeting staff informally to discuss your ideas.

We’ve structured the course to help you develop broader-ranging skills that will increase your confidence and help you later in life. By the end of the course you will be able to:

  • construct cohesive arguments
  • structure your thoughts
  • keep an open mind
  • maintain a critical distance
  • uncover the heart of an issue through a process of debate, reflection and argument. 

In your final year you will also develop your research skills.
 

Assessment

Assessment methods used on this course

We assess you through:

  • written coursework
  • exams
  • oral presentations.

Study Abroad


You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

After you graduate


Career prospects

Studying philosophy will help you to develop reasoning and communication skills that are highly prized by employers. Philosophy graduates work in a wide range of sectors including journalism and the media, the civil and diplomatic services, law, marketing, computing, management consultancy and counselling.

Further study

You can stay at Oxford Brookes to continue your studies with us; we offer a MA by Research in Philosophy and also provide doctoral supervision. We have an active research community and pride ourselves on the high-quality supervision we give our research students, with each student being allocated at least two supervisors.

Student profiles


Our Staff


Dr Mark Cain

Mark's research interests are in the Philosophy of Cognitive Science, Mind and Language. In particular, he is interested in understanding the process by which humans develop from a state of seeming ignorance at birth to one in which they are able to speak a language and grasp a vast array of concepts only a few years later.

Read more about Mark

Free language courses


Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

Information from Discover Uni


Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme Changes: On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website.

For more information, please visit our Changes to programmes page.