Philosophy (BA)

As a student in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff you will be taught by leading researchers in Philosophy.

There are two related aspects of the Philosophy programme at Cardiff that mark it out among Russell Group universities. One is that there is a strong emphasis on ethics, politics, and aesthetics among the modules on offer. Although we do cover the full range of contemporary philosophical concerns, we are unusual in providing so much opportunity in these areas.

The other is that our research and teaching is spread equally across both the 'analytic' and 'Continental' styles of Western philosophy. For historical reasons, most philosophy programmes in the UK are almost entirely analytic. Some are almost entirely Continental. Only a very few are evenly balanced across the two approaches, allowing students to develop a full understanding of both with the possibility of an informed choice to specialise in one approach or the other.

Your scheduled contact hours will be supplemented by the opportunity for individual meetings with academic staff, by supportive academic progress meetings with your Personal Tutor and by the opportunity to attend research seminars and careers activities.

The School prides itself on nurturing a friendly, personalised and supportive environment for its students, with staff spending a great deal of time at various points in the semester in individual one-to-one meetings with students.

Key facts

UCAS CodeV500
Entry pointSeptember 2016
Duration3 years
Studying in WelshThis course offers elements that are taught through the medium of Welsh. Please contact the Admissions tutor for more information.
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.
Typical A level offerABB General Studies is not accepted
Typical Welsh Baccalaureate offerGrade A in the Core, plus AB grades at A-level
Typical International Baccalaureate offer34 points including 6,5,5 in Higher Level subjects.
Other qualificationsApplications from those offering alternative qualifications are welcome. Specific admissions and selection criteria for this degree programme can be found online.

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


Admissions tutor(s)

Mrs Anna Birt, Course Administrator

Dr Simon Robertson, Admissions Tutor

Important Legal Information: The programme information currently being published in Course Finder is under review and may be subject to change. The final programme information is due to be published by May 2016 and will be the definitive programme outline which the University intends to offer. Applicants are advised to check the definitive programme information after the update, to ensure that the programme meets their needs.

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.

Studying Philosophy at Cardiff has turned a general interest into a real passion. Lecturers are passionate about their work, communicate their expertise clearly, and respond to your interest with great enthusiasm.

Maria Corrado, Philosophy student

Year one

Year one consists in three modules that provide a comprehensive grounding in Philosophy, while not repeating what some students will already have studied. 

One of these modules, 'Mind, Thought and Reality', focuses on the nature of thinking, the relation between thoughts and the rest of the world, and the basic structures of the world. Students address these questions through discussing contemporary writings. 

Another module, 'Moral and Political Philosophy', introduces the central concepts, theories, arguments, and approaches of contemporary moral and political theory through considering such particular issues as global poverty, nuclear weapons, the relations between men and women, medical ethics, and the use of animals. 

The third module, ‘Four Great Texts’, provides an in-depth study of four classic texts.

Students of this course can choose to study modules outside of their allocated School(s) core and optional modules.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Mind, Thought and RealitySE410120 credits
Moral and Political PhilosophySE410320 credits
Four Great Works in PhilosophySE410420 credits

Year two

Year two is designed to build on this foundation through more focused modules that provide a more solid grounding in their particular area. There are no compulsory modules. Students are encouraged to follow the interests they developed at year one, but also to consider what they would like to take in the following year.

Students studying this course may take one or two modules from another Academic School, selected from the University’s Free Standing Module Collection.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Philosophy of Contemporary PoliticsSE436320 credits
MetaphysicsSE436420 credits
Contemporary Ethical TheorySE438820 credits
Kant & HeideggerSE439020 credits
Philosophy of MindSE431320 credits
EpistemologySE439820 credits
French Philosophy: Sartre To BadiouSE438020 credits
Credoau'r CymrySE440020 credits
Modern Moral PhilosophySE437320 credits
Hanes Athroniaeth WleidyddolSE439520 credits
International Study Abroad (60 credits) AutumnSE625160 credits
International Study Abroad (60 credits) SpringSE625260 credits
Philosophy of LanguageSE435820 credits

Year three

Year three is our research-led year, where the modules reflect the current research interests of the staff who teach them. These build on, and are more specialised than, the year two modules. Essentially, students are reading and thinking about the very same texts that the module leader is thinking and writing about. There is also the opportunity for independent research in the dissertation module.

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. Many of our modules are 50% coursework and 50% exam but there are also sufficient modules with 100% coursework for those who prefer coursework to exams.

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.


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3 Year(s)

Next intake

September 2016

Places available

Typical places available

There are approximately 70 places available for Single and Joint Honours programmes that include Philosophy.

Applications received

Typical applications received


QAA subject benchmark

QAA subject benchmark


Overview and aims of this course/programme

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.

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.

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.

What should I know about year five?

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 the member of staff who convenes module, 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).

Students are expected to adhere to the Cardiff University policy on Dignity at Work and Study.

How is this course/programme structured?

The programme is studied full-time over three academic years.  360 credits are taken (120 credits per year).  Year 1 is a foundation year designed to equip you with the skills for advanced study and to give you an overview of the subject that will enable you to make informed choices from the modules available in Year 2 and the Final Year. In Year 2 you select from a range of modules in which you will build on the foundation year, developing a solid understanding of the core areas of Philosophical inquiry. In Final Year there is a range of more specialised modules in which you can pursue interests developed in the previous two years and engage with current issues in research and scholarship, enabling you further to develop analytical and presentational skills that employers will value, as well as equipping you for postgraduate study.

You will take up to three subjects in the first year.  The Philosophy first year module group will take between 40 and 60 credits in philosophy, with the balance of credits chosen from other subject blocks.  The second and third years consist of 120 credits per year chosen from the range of Philosophy optional modules for that particular year of study. Single honours students may take a single 20 credit free standing module from another subject during their 2nd or 3rd year. Joint honours students must take 60 credits of philosophy modules in each of their second and third years.  Students must pass each academic year before being allowed to proceed.

What should I know about year four?

No specific equipment is required.

What should I know about year three?

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

What should I know about the preliminary year?

A diverse range of learning and teaching styles is used throughout the programme. Students will attend lectures, participate in seminars, and study independently in preparation for each session. All of the taught modules within the programme are optional.  All taught modules involve some formative assessment which is returned to you with individual feedback. Generic Feedback is provided for all forms of summative assessment. In the Final Year students can choose to write a dissertation on a topic of their choice (subject to supervisory availability and approval of the title by the Board of Studies).

There are a small number of Philosophy modules available to be taught through the medium of Welsh.

What should I know about year one?


Summative assessment for most modules takes place through one or more of the following methods: unseen examinations; open book examinations; portfolios of essays; and (if chosen) the dissertation.  The form(s) of summative assessment for individual modules are set out in the relevant module description.  Assessment methods are chosen as most appropriate to elicit the skills, knowledge and competencies developed by the module.  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.


Formative assessment is provided as feedback on coursework through written comments and individual discussion and on oral seminar presentations through individual guidance.

Other information

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.

Distinctive features

Graduates from this programme will be able to:

·         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.

How will I be taught?

Philosophy at Cardiff is taught by staff with an international reputation for innovative and influential research. Our passion for the subject and the strength and range of our scholarship enable us to offer a degree which is:

  • Inclusive.We teach the central areas within modern Philosophy: aesthetics, epistemology, ethics, language, metaphysics, mind, and political philosophy.  While we concentrate on the argument of philosophers in the modern period, which is to say from the 17th century and Descartes onwards, we are interested in the work of thinkers in both the Analytic and Continental traditions of Philosophy.  You will therefore encounter a broad range of philosophical issues and a broad range approaches and indeed interpretations of what Philosophy is.
  • Challenging. Research-led teaching means students engage with new ideas that are helping to shape the future of the discipline. We see the study of Philosophy in its various contexts as broadening horizons, and as a way of engaging in pressing issues from the world outside of academia.
  • Diverse. After Year 1 there are no compulsory modules. We give you choice – but we also give you the skills and knowledge to make informed choices. The second year of your degree will equip you with a thorough understanding of the core arguments of the principal areas of Philosophy.  This will provide a solid foundation for the third year.  Here modules will focus on the topics that the lecturers themselves are actively researching.  You will therefore have the opportunity to explore issues in greater depth, as your competence. knowledge and confidence increases.  Our teaching varies between modules, ranging from traditional-style lectures to smaller-group seminars in which students develop their writing and presentational skills in a supportive environment designed to help them take responsibility for their own learning.
  • Engaged. At Cardiff we do not think of Philosophy as isolated from the rest of culture or separate from society.  We take pride in an approach to Philosophy that takes notice of the place of philosophy in public life, not least in moral and political decision-making, as well as engaging with such contemporary approaches as Experimental Philosophy.

Admissions tutors

Mrs Anna Birt, Course Administrator

Dr Simon Robertson, 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.


Get information and advice about making an application, find out when the key dates are and learn more about our admissions criteria.

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