English Language and Philosophy (BA)

The Joint Honours degree in English Language and Philosophy provides you with the opportunity of specialising in two university honours subjects.

The Joint Honours degree in English Language and Philosophy provides you with the opportunity of specialising in two university honours subjects.

Many students find joint honours both stimulating and rewarding as they are able to observe both similarities and differences in the two subjects.

English Language at Cardiff has a distinctive character. You will be provided with a rigorous grounding in the analysis of the English language, learning such essential linguistic tools as phonetics, grammar and discourse analysis from those who are helping develop those fields. You will also learn how to analyse the types of multimodal (e.g. word+image+sound) texts that predominate in contemporary and new media. We also focus on the intersection of language with culture, society, politics and mind.

Philosophy at Cardiff is distinct for its strong emphasis on ethics, politics, and aesthetics and its equal attention to 'analytic' and 'Continental' styles of Western philosophy.

As a joint honours student, you will find that often there are complementary issues and perspectives that link subjects, be they critical analysis, historical contexts or recent research. 

The School of English, Communication and Philosophy offers a challenging programme of modules in each subject, supported by a friendly atmosphere and excellent staff-student relationships.

Key facts

Duration3 years
Typical places availableThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically has 350 places available.
Typical applications receivedThe School of English, Communication and Philosophy typically receives 1450 applications.
Scholarships and bursaries
Typical A level offerABB. Two or three A-level subjects, excluding General Studies.
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core plus grades AB at A-Level.
Typical International Baccalaureate offer35 points
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Please see detailed admissions and selection criteria for more information.

Detailed alternative entry requirements are available for this course.
QAA subject benchmark

The Programme that we offer cuts across four different Benchmark Statements: English Studies, Linguistics, Communication and Philosophy.

Academic School
Admissions tutor(s)

Dr Mercedes Durham , Admissions Tutor

    Welsh medium provisionThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.

    English Language at Cardiff has a distinctive character. You will learn such essential linguistic tools as phonetics, grammar and discourse analysis from those who are helping develop those fields. Since we take a broad approach to language, you will also learn how to analyse the types of multimodal (e.g. word+image+sound) texts that predominate in contemporary and new media.

    Language analysis, though, is just the starting point. What makes Cardiff special is our focus on the intersection of language with culture, society, politics and mind. While arming you with technical skills of analysis, we then expect you to grapple with exciting theories that will enable you to take into account the multifarious aspects of the context of language use and interpret the communication in a complex and meaningful way.


    We realise that many of our students will not have had the opportunity to study Philosophy before as an academic discipline, and for the increasing number of those who have, it is still relatively new and demanding. We therefore structure the programme with great care so as to build progressively your critical understanding and creative philosophical skills.

    Year one

    You will take 40 credits in English Language, 40 credits in Philosophy and 40 credits in another Humanities subject which may be from with either School or an associate School.

    Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) core and optional modules. These can be chosen from modules from participating Academic Schools.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 credits
    Introduction To Language & SocietySE111020 credits
    Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
    Introduction To LanguageSE110920 credits

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Four Great Works in PhilosophySE410420 credits
    Darllen AthroniaethSE410520 credits
    Y Da, Drwg a'r GwleidyddolSE410620 credits

    Year two

    You will take 60 credits in English Language and 60 credits in Philosophy.

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Sound, Structure and MeaningSE141120 credits

    Module titleModule codeCredits
    Visual CommunicationSE137320 credits
    SociolinguisticsSE136920 credits
    Research MethodsSE131820 credits
    Philosophy of Contemporary PoliticsSE436320 credits
    MetaphysicsSE436420 credits
    Contemporary Ethical TheorySE438820 credits
    History of EnglishSE139820 credits
    Language & CultureSE140220 credits
    Language & the MindSE140420 credits
    Kant & HeideggerSE439020 credits
    Philosophy of MindSE431320 credits
    EpistemologySE439820 credits
    French Philosophy: Sartre To BadiouSE438020 credits
    Language & GenderSE140320 credits
    Credoau'r CymrySE440020 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
    International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
    Modern Moral PhilosophySE437320 credits
    Words & MeaningSE137020 credits
    DiscourseSE136220 credits
    Hanes Athroniaeth WleidyddolSE439520 credits
    Philosophy of LanguageSE435820 credits

    Year three

    You will take 60 credits in English Language and 60 credits in Philosophy.

    The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

    The School of English, Communication and Philosophy offers intellectually stimulating programmes of study, shaped by the latest research. We have a supportive learning environment, where students are enabled to acquire a range of skills and a wealth of specialist knowledge.

    Our programmes foster intellectual skills, such as critical thinking, close analysis, evaluating evidence, constructing arguments, using theory, and the effective deployment of language in writing and in debate. We also help you gain experience in team-working, independent research, and time management. A range of formative and summative assessment methods are used, including essays, examinations, presentations, portfolios, and creative assignments.

    School of English, Communication and Philosophy
    In 2013/14, 91% of the School's graduates who were available for work reported they were in employment and/or further study within six months of graduation.


    3 Year(s)

    Next intake

    September 2016

    Places available

    Typical places available

    120 places for Single and Joint Honours programmes that include English Language.

    Applications received

    Typical applications received

    424 applications were received for Single and Joint Honours programmes that include English Language for entry 2013. 


    QAA subject benchmark

    QAA subject benchmark

    The Programme that we offer cuts across four different Benchmark Statements: English Studies, Linguistics, Communication and Philosophy.

    What are the aims of this Programme?

    The BA English Language and Philosophy is a Joint Honours degree programme which enables you to combine the study of English Language and Philosophy by choosing from the full range of modules offered by each subject.

    Year 1 is a foundation year designed to equip you with the skills for advanced study and to give you an overview of the two subjects that will enable you to make informed choices from the modules available in the following years.  In Years 2 and 3 you will select from a range of English Language and Philosophy modules in which you will build on the foundation year, developing high-level skills.

    English Language is concerned with the structure, use and significance of language, with a particular focus on how it is spoken and written across the world in many different social and professional settings. It studies spoken, written and multimodal texts but also how speakers and hearers learn, interpret and evaluate language and communicational contexts. Studying for a degree in English Language develops abilities to analyse and critique the language and communication that surrounds us but also helps develop strong skills in communicating clearly and effectively. English Language graduates are known for their ability to combine the best of social science skills, such as technical analysis and systematic method, with the best of humanities skills, such as flexibility, communication and critique.

    The English Language programme at Cardiff combines a strong foundation in linguistic and communicational analysis with plenty of opportunities for students to pursue specific academic and career-related interests. We offer modules in descriptive traditions of language, such as the study of phonetics, grammar and child language, but also in critical traditions such as the study of discourse and the relation between language and power. We also offer a number of modules that are directly relevant to career areas in education, the media, health, and the legal process.

    Philosophy is the study of the most general questions about reality, knowledge and ethics, questions whose answers are presupposed by most other subjects. We approach these questions from both the Anglophone and the European traditions in philosophy.  Taking a Philosophy degree with us will expose you to the competing answers that philosophers have put forward and to the arguments with which they attacked and defended them.

    The Philosophy programme at Cardiff University combines breadth of content with the flexibility required for students to pursue specific interests and to specialise if they want to.

    You will study morality including applied ethics, normative ethics andmetaethics; political philosophy including political issues and the legitimacy of political institutions; the philosophical aesthetics of art, music and literature; the nature of mind, thought, language and action; the fundamental nature of reality; the nature of knowledge. You will do this through studying some of the most influential writings in Western literature.

    Philosophy graduates are known for their incisive analytical abilities and their ability to construct and communicate clear arguments. Studying philosophy develops your abilities to identify the reasons for people’s claims, to find the assumptions lying behind those reasons, to critically assess both and to communicate all of this clearly and effectively.

    What is expected of me?

    Students are expected to attend and participate in the lectures and seminars for all modules on which they are enrolled. In line with University policy, attendance will be monitored at specific ‘points of engagement’ throughout the year. Students with good cause to be absent should inform their module leaders, who will provide the necessary support. Students with extenuating circumstances should submit the Extenuating Circumstances Form in accordance with the School’s procedures.

    The total number of hours which students are expected to devote to each 20-credit module is 200. Of these, 30 hours will be contact hours with staff (lectures and seminars); the remaining 170 hours should be spent on self-directed learning for that module (reading, preparation for seminars, research, reflection, formative writing, assessed work, exam revision).  There are also additional seminars and workshops that students are able to attend.

    Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study, which can be found here:

    How is this Programme Structured?

    The programme is offered in full-time mode over three academic years.  360 credits are studied (120 credits per year).  The first year consists of 80 core credits (40 credits from English Language and 40 credits from Philosophy).  A further 40 credits are chosen from either English Language or from another Humanities subject.  Students in their second year take 40 compulsory credits in Discourse and Sound, Structure and Meaning, plus a further 20 credits from the range of English Language modules available.  As there are no compulsory modules in Philosophy, students choose 60 credits from the range of optional Philosophy modules available to make up the 120 credits for the year.  Students in their final year choose 60 credits from the range of optional modules available in English Language and 60 credits from the range of optional modules available in Philosophy.  Students must pass each academic year before being allowed to proceed.

    Will I need any specific equipment to study this Programme?

    No specific equipment is required.

    What skills will I practise and develop?

    Students will acquire and develop a range of valuable skills, both those which are discipline specific and more generic ‘employability skills’.

    Many of the learning outcomes listed above involve practising skills that are transferable to numerous areas of employment.  Students who engage with the programme will practice and develop the ability to:

    • Communicate concepts, theories and arguments and the appraisal of them accurately and clearly, both orally and in written form
    • Assess the validity of different evidence and argument
    • Use a variety of sources in a comprehensive and well-documented manner
    • Explore critically their own beliefs and values
    • Display sensitivity to the diversity of beliefs, practices and ways of life
    • Use electronic sources of information effectively

    How will I be taught?

    A diverse range of teaching and learning styles is used throughout the programme. Students attend lectures, participate in seminars and carry out independent research in preparation for each session.

    The learning activities will vary from module to module as appropriate, but may include such activities as: interactive lectures, seminar discussions of prepared texts/topics, student presentations or group presentations and small-group work within seminars. Students are expected to do the reading and other relevant preparation to enable them to take a full part in these activities and are encouraged to explore the resources of the library as appropriate.

    In the final year of the degree students have the option of choosing to write a Project or Dissertation on a topic of particular interest to them (subject to supervisory availability and approval of the title by the Board of Studies).

    How will I be assessed?


    The form(s) of assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant Module Description.  Summative assessment for most modules takes place through one or more of the following methods: unseen examinations; open book examinations; traditional academic essays; data-based essays.  However, some include otherforms of assessment such as design tasks, projects involving data collections and transcription, or presentations. Students may also opt to take a Dissertation module.  Assessment methods are chosen as most appropriate to elicit the skills, knowledge and competencies developed by the module.  Emphasis in assessment is placed on the writing of clear, persuasive and scholarly essays presented in a professional manner and submitted on time. The form(s) of summative assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant module description.  

    Not all skills are assessed directly (e.g. the accurate and clear oral communication of concept and theories).  However, opportunities are made available for the development of such skills in seminar presentations, and their value is emphasised to students.  Details of any academic or competence standards which may limit the availability of adjustments or alternative assessments for students with disabilities are documented in the Module Descriptions.


    Written feedback is provided on formative and/or summative assessment and students are encouraged to discuss their ideas with module tutors in seminars and, where appropriate, on a one-to-one basis in office hours or during academic progress meetings.  Students may also receive group written feedback on exams.  Formative assessment is provided as feedback on coursework through written comments and individual discussion and on oral seminar presentations through individual guidance.

    How will I be supported?

    Every student is assigned a personal tutor and will meet him/her for regular Academic Progress Meetings (one per semester). There is a form to fill in before each Academic Progress meeting which is designed to help you reflect on the written feedback and the reasons for the marks you have received from the previous round of assessment. You will discuss this feedback and your reflections on it with your personal tutor.

    In addition, all staff have weekly office hours during teaching weeks and students may make appointments to see their personal tutor or module leaders on a one-to-one basis about any issues. Staff may also be contacted by email. Details of the office hours and email addresses of staff are provided in the Module Guide for each module.

    Use of Learning Central, the University’s Virtual Learning Environment, will vary from module to module as the module leader feels appropriate for the specific contents of the module but will normally at least include making lecture handouts available online.

    What are the Learning Outcomes of this Programme?

    Graduates from this programme will be able to:

    • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of core areas of English language studies, including phonetics, grammar, semantics, pragmatics and discourse analysis
    • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of empirical linguistic phenomena and of the relevant descriptive terminology so as to have a practical understanding of what language is and how it works in actual use
    • Demonstrate responsiveness to the central role of language in the creation of meaning and a sensitivity to the affective power of language
    • Demonstrate awareness of how different social and cultural contexts affect the nature of language and meaning
    • Critically evaluate ideas, arguments and empirical research
    • Collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret qualitative and/or quantitative data
    • Demonstrate knowledge and understanding of important concepts, theories, problems and arguments in the main areas of Philosophy, such as metaphysics, epistemology,  philosophy of mind, logic, moral philosophy and, political philosophy.
    • Demonstrate familiarity with the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, encountered in their own writings
    • Demonstrate awareness of some major issues currently at the frontiers of philosophical debate and research.
    • Display precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems.
    • Construct and justify arguments whileforming independent, fair and well-supported assessments of conflicting views and opinions
    • Explore critically beliefs and values, and question their presuppositions
    • Appreciate the diversity of competing theories, and of competing interpretations of theories and texts, in Philosophy
    • Apply philosophical concepts, theories, arguments and methods to some of the major problems, both theoretical and practical, facing human reflection, life and society.
    • Accurate understanding of  philosophical texts and ability to interpret these texts carefully, with due regard to their context
    • Awareness of the bibliographic conventions of the discipline and their role in communicating information.

    Other information

    We have a number of opportunities to study abroad in Europe and the United States, including Erasmus programmes.

    Admissions tutors

    Dr Mercedes Durham , Admissions Tutor

      Key Information Sets (KIS) make it easy for prospective students to compare information about full or part time undergraduate courses, and are available on the Unistats website.