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Guide to studying Philosophy

Do you like to ponder about existence? Then a Philosophy course may suit you.

Statue of Aristotle


  1. What's Philosophy?

  2. Why study Philosophy?

  3. What jobs can you get as a Philosophy graduate?

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

What's Philosophy?

Philosophy is generally the study of whether we can trust our reality or not. It's from the Ancient Greek ‘Philosophia', meaning 'love of wisdom'.

The subject is made of several subfields, divided by age, topic and style, all which rely on rational argument. As a Philosophy student, you'll study some of the greatest thinkers of human history, and their investigations into existence, knowledge, values and reason. Philosophers include Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Marx and Nietzsche.

Why study Philosophy?

It can be one of the most intellectually rewarding subjects. To study Philosophy is to grapple with questions that have occupied humankind for millennia.

The skills that Philosophy teaches you will always be in high demand as you learn to think, write and challenge with intelligence.

Philosophy is a flexible degree choice. There's no single pathway for graduates; you can enter into law, finance, business, medicine, journalism, education, academia and many other areas.

Injustice, imbalance and unfairness is always in a clearer light to a Philosophy graduate. It's a subject for those who hate constraints more than anything else.

University students studying in a library

What jobs can you get as a Philosophy graduate?

Studying Philosophy will teach you transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication. It will also develop your ability to think outside the box in problem-solving and show you how to write your obscure thinking coherently.

Particular job areas include teaching and lecturing, law, civil service, local and national government, marketing, journalism, psychotherapy, HR, PR and recruitment.

Numerous companies offer graduate schemes in this subject, including Think Ahead.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Philosophy have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Philosophy students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively.

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need?

Grade and subject requirements for Philosophy courses vary and depend on the university. Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university and course you're interested in.

What degrees can you study?

BA in Philosophy, which can be combined with other subjects such as Biblical Studies, Computer Studies or a foreign language.

All modules feature a written element; academic essays are common for all areas and there are usually exams at the end of each semester. In order to encourage thinking and consideration of complex topics, you'll probably find yourself working in small seminar groups.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

Examples of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level include straight MAs in Philosophy, as well as masters in Aesthetics, Art Theory, Modern European Philosophy, Ancient Philosophy, Ethics of Education and History of Philosophy.

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