Our BA Philosophy will feed your intellectual curiosity and challenge your thinking. You’ll acquire the skills required to dig deeper into ideas and question received wisdom. You’ll rigorously examine the most fundamental questions about human life: Does God exist? Is material success all that counts in life? What do I owe to others? How free am I to decide my own future?
At Essex, we take philosophy back to its roots in everyday existential, social, and political problems. We embrace the relevance of philosophy to other forms of enquiry – political, cultural, legal, medical, aesthetic – and bring this to bear on urgent issues in public life, such as the controversial issues raised by mental health legislation or public policy regarding end of life care.
We cover a wide range of topics from the meaning of life to capitalism and its critics, from ancient philosophy to current trends in European thought; and we have particular strengths in the areas of:
- Political philosophy
- Philosophy of religion
- European philosophy (including critical theory, phenomenology, and existentialism)
We are involved in many exciting and interdisciplinary research projects, and have active links with other areas including Political Science, Law, Sociology, Psychoanalysis, and Art History.
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
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Student Development Team.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
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. Some recent projects and publications include:
- Béatrice Han-Pile and Dan Watts’ major new research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today
- Peter Dews’ The Idea of Evil
- Irene McMullin’s Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations
- Fabian Freyenhagen’s Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly
- David McNeill’s An Image of the Soul in Speech: Plato and the Problem of Socrates
Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:
- 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
- A variety of philosophy textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library
We know that the world of work is changing. Employers want graduates who can think laterally logically and creatively about practical problems and are effective communicators.
At Essex, we are serious about providing you with a teaching environment in which you develop the skills you need to flourish in the discipline, and to be prepared for the jobs you aspire to in the future.
A degree in Philosophy at Essex provides you with:
- The ability to analyse and solve difficult problems
- The ability to think clearly, creatively, and self-critically
- The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
Philosophy graduates are therefore well-suited to a wide range of occupations, including law, PR, journalism and the media, the Civil Service, charity work, banking, and the NHS.
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 focus on the existential questions of human life, and provide a critical perspective on the social, political and economic challenges we are facing today.
- Our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad.
- We combine Anglo-American and European Continental philosophy.
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 typically takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions
- Seminars allow your lecturer to explain new arguments and ideas in more detail, while giving you sufficient time for questions, collective discussion and active engagement with the material
- We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
- In the second and final-year of your degree, we add an additional contact hour to each module
- In the Summer term of the second and final-year of your degree we offer additional modules which cover additional topics and develop your research skills
- In your first year, modules are typically assessed by essays and exams (with most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams).
- We are the only Philosophy Department in the UK that has scrapped all formal exams in the second and final-year of your degree
- In place of exams, we have a whole range of innovative assessments (e.g. essays, in-class assessments, presentations, group work, reading summaries) designed to boost your transferable skills