Some of the most fundamental questions about political life, its principles and ideals, are philosophical in character. Our course brings these disciplines of philosophy and politics together, and provides a sound academic grounding in both. You are given plenty of opportunities to bring the resources of moral and political philosophy to bear on the issues of political life.
You study topics including:
- Political philosophy
- European philosophy (including critical theory, phenomenology, and existentialism)
- Concepts in political science: state, laws, wars and political parties
- Obligations, freedom, rights and equality
Our School of Philosophy and Art History has been ranked in the Top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
Our Department of Government is one of the most prestigious in Europe, with an outstanding record of teaching, research and publication. We are rated top in the UK for research (REF 2014), and have consistently been the highest-rated politics department in the country since national assessments began.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
Our expert staff
Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our philosophy research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014), which puts us fifth in the UK for research outputs.
Our open-minded and enthusiastic philosophy staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.
Some of the biggest names in politics work at Essex, giving you unparalleled access to some of the best minds. Our staff are advising the CIA on counter-terrorism, training politicians and civil servants in democratising countries, and commentating on political events in national and international media.
Our politics academic staff work on topics ranging from international conflict and violence to British elections, and from the obligations of the younger generation to why authoritarian leaders welcome natural disasters.
- Laboratories of networked computers featuring extensive software for political analysis
- The ESSEXLab provides opportunities for experimental lab research
- Student societies for politics, debating, and Model UN
- An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
- Access a variety of philosophy and politics textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library
Many employers want graduates with critical thinking skills who can think logically and creatively about practical problems.
Our students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including law, PR, project management, journalism and the media, teaching, librarianship, the Civil Service, banking, the police and fashion design.
Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies.
Philosophy develops your transferable skills, providing you with:
- The ability to understand all sides of a dispute objectively and without forming a premature opinion
- The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
- The ability to interpret dense text and to communicate effectively
- Analytical and problem-solving skills
We also work with the university’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy.
- We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
- We provide a critical perspective on political, economic and technological developments.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
- Seminars allow your lecturer to explain new arguments and ideas, while giving sufficient time for questions and collective discussion and debate
- We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
- Lab sessions allow you to improve your technical research skills
- Opportunities to gain work experience on placements and internships
- Usually assessed by 2,000-3,000 word essays
- Most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams
- If you undertake a placement, you will prepare an assessed report on this experience