Our course brings philosophy together with one of its most powerful practical ideas: that all human beings have the same rights, which is an idea that dominates the modern world. We provide a grounding in philosophy and also involve the study of human rights from the perspectives of philosophy, politics, law and sociology.
You study topics including:
- Philosophy of religion
- Global distributive justice and human rights
- The protection of human rights in the UK
- Freedom of thought and expression
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).
At Essex we specialise in business law, public law, criminal justice, health law, law and technology, socio-legal studies and human rights law. We are ranked 28th in the UK for Law in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021) and we are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
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.
We have exchange partners in the following areas:
- The United States
- New Zealand
- Latin America
- The Middle East
- Hong Kong
For students who commence their course in 2020, if you spend a full year abroad you’ll pay no tuition fees to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university either.
Our expert staff
Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our 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 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.
Our internationally diverse community of staff and students gives us a breadth of cross-cultural perspectives and insights into law and justice around the world.
Our community, combined with opportunities to study abroad during your time with us, ensures you graduate with a genuine worldview and a network of international contacts.
Members of our Human Rights Centre work closely with our alumni and extensive practitioner network to ensure that our research is focused on priority issues that are of direct relevance to beneficiaries such as victims of human rights violations, governments, NGOs, and international organisations such as the 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
- A comprehensive student support system which will direct you to the best source of advice and support in the case of personal or academic difficulties
- Work on key human rights projects at our Human Rights Clinic
- Network at our student-run Law Society, Human Rights Society, Bar Society and Amnesty International Society, which provides legal advice to the Commonwealth Students’ Association (CSA)
- Volunteer at the Essex Law Clinic where you can work alongside practicing solicitors to offer legal advice to clients
- Join our Model United Nations society, which can improve your skills of argumentation, oral presentation and research
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. Take a look at our dedicated carers pages for Philosophy and Art History and Human Rights.
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 a placement year you gain relevant work experience within an external business or organisation, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
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
- Usually assessed by 2,000-3,000 word essays
- Most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams
- First year marks do not count towards your degree class