UCAS code: V500

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years

Part time: up to 6 years

Location: Headington

Department(s): School of Education, Humanities and Languages

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Overview

Get to grips with the greatest questions generated by our attempt to make sense of the world and our place in it. Explore important topics like moral responsibility, social convention, and fake news. Discover the diverse career opportunities a philosophy degree unlocks in the 21st century.

Looking at how philosophy is relevant to our everyday lives is an important part of this course. You’ll explore answers to big questions like: how can it help us tackle the biggest challenges facing society? And what are the negative consequences of technological change?

You’ll have the chance to look at more modern thinking around philosophy of mind, epistemology, moral philosophy, and more. However, we offer a wide range of modules that focus on the past too. 

Outside the lecture theatre, we encourage you to make the most of opportunities on offer. Perhaps you’ll become part of our philosophy society and attend their events. Or maybe you’ll boost your CV with a work placement or by studying abroad.

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Strong student support

    We give you feedback on all draft coursework and schedule meetings every semester to help keep you on track.

  • Small class sizes

    We encourage discussion and debate to help you develop your philosophical skills.

  • Expert insight

    Listen to Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures and attend The Philosophy Zone, a fortnightly staff-student discussion event.

  • No exams

    We assess you in a variety of ways including essays, podcasts, book reviews and presentations.

  • Focus on employability

    We have a careers service specifically designed for philosophy students.

  • 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.

  • Study abroad

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

Course details

Course structure

Do we need to be protected from artificial intelligence? What moral responsibilities do large corporations have? Are humans capable of rational thought and action? Studying philosophy, these are just a few examples of the questions you’ll discuss and debate. 

We kickstart this course with an overview of the discipline, looking at the problems of each of the main branches of philosophy. You’ll also spend time thinking about the idea of religion, as well as ethics and human nature. 

Exploring influential figures throughout history is a key part of the course. You’ll look at their ideas on the nature of the mind, experience, and personal identity. We’ll also give you the chance to shape your studies with optional modules.  

In your final year, you’ll dig deeper into a pressing philosophical issue and pick from more modules. Medieval philosophy, moral psychology and thinking in dark times are just a few examples of areas you can explore.

Students in a lecture

Learning and teaching

You’ll learn through sharing, discussing and evaluating fundamental - and sometimes controversial - ideas. You’ll examine human nature, and our place in the world. You’ll question the status quo and analyse different opinions. You’ll evaluate the beliefs of others - and your own.

Your teaching will be a mix of:

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

You’ll be part of a close-knit and supportive learning community - where everybody knows each other well. Your learning environment will be friendly and inclusive - and you’ll feel comfortable sharing your ideas. Your tutors are experts who are passionate about Philosophy - and truly care about their students. You’ll be able to get support whenever you need it.

Assessment

We assess you through:

  • written coursework
  • exams
  • oral presentations.

Study modules

Teaching for this course takes place face to face and you can expect around 7 hours of contact time per week.

In addition to this, you should also anticipate a workload of 1,200 hours per year.

Teaching usually takes place Monday to Friday, between 9.00am and 6.00pm.

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Philosophical Voices

    Through Philosophy, you’ll address fundamental questions about ourselves and our place in the world. However, much of English-speaking philosophy has been dominated by a narrow range of voices - in particular, the voices of white, male professional philosophers.

    In this module, explore the question of which voices should we engage with when we philosophise? You’ll examine the potential contributions to philosophical discussion of;

    • Women and feminist voices
    • The non-academic community
    • Scientists
    • Philosophers working in the continental European tradition, like Husserl, Heidgger and Merleau-Ponty

    In small group settings, you’ll explore and discuss topics like the challenge of experimental philosophy, the discussion of sex and gender, the role of Philosophical Misogyny and when can science take over from philosophy.

    Will listening to these voices serve to enrich philosophy or change its direction?

  • 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.

  • Ethics

    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. 

  • 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.
  • 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.

Optional modules

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. 

Political Philosophy

How is political opinion, authority and democracy shaped and influenced? In this module, you’ll explore foundational issues in political philosophy through exploring the main political ideologies.

You’ll start your journey with Liberalism as the default position in the West since the English, American and French Revolutions. Your focus then shifts to the ideologies that arose in response to Liberalism, including; 
  • Conservatism
  • Communism
  • Fascism
  • Communitarianism
  • Anarchism
  • and Feminism. 
You’ll also consider questions linked to the theory of knowledge, such as can any ideology be rationally justified?

Origins of the Climate Crisis: A Global History of the Environment

Sustainability, climate change, conservation: these are pressing contemporary issues with a rich and compelling history. This module will introduce you to the ways in which climate and the environment have changed over the past 6 centuries. 

Explore responses and impacts from cultures and countries across the globe, from the 15th and 16th centuries, through to the present climate emergency.

Investigate environmental changes and how they were contested and experienced at communal, national and international levels. You'll think about the political, economic, social and cultural contexts of resource management, energy use and food production and consider future policy solutions.

You’ll engage with a wide variety of historical sources which we can use to understand environmental history, including:
  • demographic sources
  • institutional records
  • visual sources such as maps and plans.
You'll gain digital history skills, through the digital mapping technology you'll use on the course.

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. 

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Myth to 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. 

  • 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

  • Ethics for the 21st Century

    You'll explore recent social and technological developments such as:  

    • globalisation
    • social media and the internet
    • medical and scientific advances
    • mass migration 

    Looking at the new ethical challenges they present that are prominent in public debate and a source of conflict and division in society. You'll analyze some of these ethical issues from a philosophical perspective. 

    You'll consider whether corporations have moral responsibilities and what is the best way to combat racism? Also how are epistemic vices such as close-mindedness, intellectual arrogance and dogmatism fostered by the prevalence of conspiracy theories, fake news, and testimonial injustice?

    Are we right to assume that democracy is the only morally-defensible way to govern a country? Can technology and science help us to improve ourselves?

     

Optional modules

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?

Philosophy of Happiness and Wellbeing

The concept of wellbeing is prominent in moral and political philosophy. Outside of philosophy ordinary people are increasingly becoming concerned with their wellbeing and in the political domain the maximisation of wellbeing is often a central goal of policy makers. This module examines philosophical issues concerning wellbeing: 
  • Is there such a thing as wellbeing and, if so, what exactly is it? 
  • How is wellbeing related to happiness and pleasure? 
  • Can wellbeing be objectively measured and aggregated? 
  • How have modern social and technological developments impacted on our wellbeing? 
  • Can events that take place after our death contribute to our wellbeing?

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?

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.

Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art

What is art? What makes something beautiful? How does emotion, imagination and knowledge contribute to our understanding and appreciation of artworks?

In this module, explore these questions through aesthetics and philosophical reflection on art through interactive lectures and a visit to one of Oxford’s renowned museums or galleries.

You’ll engage with philosophical issues concerning various forms of art;
  • Painting
  • Photography
  • Cinema
  • Graffiti
  • Music
  • literature 
  • and environmental art.
You will also consider the political and sociological dimensions of such art forms.

Philosophy of Law

In this module, you’ll be introduced to the basic issues in the philosophy of law. Explore questions such as ‘what is the social function of a legal system?’ through the sociological context of legal systems, as well as the different types of Western and non-Western legal systems

You’ll examine theories of punishment and their philosophical presumptions, as well as considering topics including;
  • Legal positivism
  • Legal realism
  • Natural law theory
  • Critical legal theory

International Year Abroad

Optional modules

International Year Abroad

This is your opportunity to work or study in another country, so you can experience a different culture from the UK. You’ll be able to apply and test your knowledge and skills in new contexts that will significantly develop your employability profile.

Choosing this module will allow you to exhibit the development of self-management and working or studying in unfamiliar contexts, alongside practising cross-cultural communication and interpersonal skills.

You will receive support and guidance to help you find a place in an available partner university, or to find a work placement for your international year abroad. This international year abroad module lasts for one academic year and is taken after the conclusion of your second year of study, once you’ve completed all your level 5 studies. Your international year abroad is not credit-bearing.

The opportunity can be approached in 2 different ways. Please see your options below:

Study in a non UK University Option

You can attend a non-UK higher education institution for a full academic year. You’ll be able to choose modules in your own subject or in a subject you consider would benefit your overall course of study. You may choose to deepen your knowledge of your degree subject or enhance it by developing complementary skills.

By studying in an international university you’ll progress your interpersonal skills through cross-cultural communication with fellow students and tutors, building lasting relationships. Also you’ll further develop your study skills as you focus on your selected areas of interest to you - while developing and progressing an international study experience that will add significance to your CV.

Work-based Learning Option

Undertake a work placement or work-related project based on your interests and existing skills. You will create an initial learning contract that shows clearly how your proposed placement or project will link with your academic and/or professional aims.

This pathway helps you to have full control over what your work-related learning looks like. You will advance your skills in a practical setting, gain first-hand experience in a work environment, and begin to create your professional network. Also, taking initiative of your learning in such a way will mean that you will stand out when you apply for jobs after graduation.

Final Year

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

Medieval Philosophy and the Roots of Modernity

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.

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.

Environmental Philosophy

In this module, you’ll address our relationship to the environment and the climate crisis. You’ll explore questions like;
  • Is environmental activism justified?
  • What is the difference between local and global activism? 
  • What are the methodological challenges for climate science?
  • What drives climate change scepticism or denialism? 
You’ll also consider Veganism, and the relation between our aesthetic appreciation of nature and environmental concerns.

The module also moves beyond the western perspective and considers Buddhist and various indigenous attitudes to the environment and our place within it.

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.

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?
     

Paradoxes

A paradox involves a contradiction, or a tension. In some cases the contradiction is a logical one, and in others it is of some other kind.

These tensions, and resolving them, are the point of departure for all kinds of philosophically interesting topics; 

  • infinity (Zeno’s paradoxes)
  • rationality (Newcomb’s problem)
  • co-operation (the Prisoner’s dilemma)
  • time travel (the Grandfather paradox)
  • the nature of the world described by physics (the Twins paradox; Schrodinger’s cat)
  • the foundations of mathematics (Russell’s paradox)
  • the nature of truth and logic (the Liar, sorites, pseudo-Scotus and Curry’s paradoxes)

In this module, you’ll survey some of the most philosophically interesting paradoxes; for your own intrinsic interest, for the light that they shed on their respective philosophical topics, and as a fun application of philosophical methods and analysis.

Buddhist Philosophy

Buddhism is one of the world’s major religions with approximately 400 million followers. It is a deeply philosophical religion that portrays human suffering as being based on a metaphysical delusion about the nature and existence of the self. 

In this module, you’ll explore the central philosophical themes in Buddhist thought beginning with the account of the teachings of the Buddha in the Abhidharma. You’ll then examine philosophical work in the later Madhyamaka, Yogacara and Dignaga and  Dharmakirti schools. 

You’ll go on to investigate how Buddhist philosophy relates to contemporary Western concerns and can enrich our philosophical outlook and help us deal with the challenges of everyday life.

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?

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.

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

Careers

Studying philosophy at Oxford Brookes will prepare you for life beyond university. You’ll be an expert in analytical thinking, moral reasoning, and problem solving. All skills that are becoming central to 21st century careers.

Employers in a range of areas will be looking for someone like you – particularly in areas of growth such as:

  • social media regulation and oversight,
  • the ethics of AI,
  • government policy.

Want to take your expertise to the next level? Study a postgraduate course with us to develop your research skills further. 

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

Joint honours options

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

Related courses

Entry requirements

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

For joint 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

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£16,750

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£15,950

2025 / 26
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

International full time
£16,750

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

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 are detailed below.

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.