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Examine the many views held by philosophers on a wide range of profound topics and fundamental ideas from truth and reality to right and wrong.

We offer you a vibrant learning environment, expert teaching and dedicated individual attention. In 2021, 92% of our students in the National Student Survey agreed that staff are good at explaining things in the Department of Philosophy.

Enhance your university experience with the chance to study abroad or undertake a credit-bearing placement.

Philosophy begins where many end the conversation: when thoughts become hard to express, views become difficult to understand, and strong argument is needed. The subject allows one the time to think carefully about these issues. I cannot emphasise enough how much help and support I received at Reading – I do not know what I would have done without it.

Farbod Akhlaghi-Ghaffarokh

BA Philosophy graduate

What it's like to study philosophy at Reading

Watch BA Philosophy student Tehillah discuss why she loves studying in the Department of Philosophy.

Thought-provoking modules

Our academics have expertise in the classic, traditional areas of Western philosophy as well as non-Western traditions, ranging from theoretical areas such as philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, and metaphysics, to applied philosophy such as business ethics and philosophy of law.

You can choose modules from a variety of topics, such as

  • Meaning and the Mind
  • Ethical Argument
  • Philosophy of Colour
  • Medieval Philosophy
  • Chinese Philosophy
  • Happy, Good, and Meaningful Lives
  • The Scandal of Film
  • Philosophy of Language.

We are also one of the few universities in the UK with expertise in experimental philosophy, where we use empirical techniques from psychology and linguistics to illuminate philosophical problems.

In addition to our exciting and diverse module options, we are one of the few universities to offer a specialisation in ethics as an undergraduate degree. The BA in Ethics, Values and Philosophy allows you to focus on moral philosophy, if this is your main interest.

Your degree, your way

There is only one compulsory module in your first year (Reason and Argument). After that, you have the flexibility to choose the modules that interest you the most, including some modules from outside Philosophy altogether. You might, for example want to start learning a new language.

We offer you a wide range of exciting and challenging modules, giving you a broad education in the key areas of philosophy while allowing you to focus your interests, especially in your final year (including, if you want, a dissertation on a topic of your choice).

Throughout your programme, your choices will be informed by the expertise of your academic tutor and your lecturers.

Variety of assessment methods 

There are no examinations for any module in Philosophy. This means you will be assessed by a variety of methods best suited to reflect your knowledge and understanding.

You will be assessed through a system of graduated coursework that evolves during your degree, including essays, oral presentations, group work, literature reviews, and other forms of assessment.

We teach you the skills you need step by step, so that you are prepared for each new module, and each new academic year, as well as for your future career.

Watch Dr Luke Elson discuss his module Christian, Islamic and Jewish Mediaeval philosophy.

Inspirational teaching

The modules we teach stem directly from our own academic research. This means you will study ground-breaking philosophy connected to the world around us.

Our department is well known for its interdisciplinary research. We collaborate with researchers in Psychology, Biology, Linguistics, Neuroscience, Law, Business, and other fields in order to bring conceptual tools and logical analysis to real-world issues.

Our research focuses on some of the current problems facing the world today. For example, what is the right way to understand pain? How can living things be distinguished from non-living things? In our modules, we take on issues such as the ethical challenges of climate change and the ethical responsibilities of businesses.

I joined as a training accountant at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which I started immediately after graduating. The skills I learned studying philosophy at Reading helped me to get this job. As part of the interview process, I had to undertake logical and verbal reasoning tests, psychometric tests, group exercises, as well as an interview. I learned all of these skills studying philosophy, as well as how to put forward a coherent argument, clarify my thoughts, and to speak clearly.

Gianni Ryan Smith

BA Philosophy

Develop transferable skills

A philosophy degree gives you the opportunity to develop a broad range of essential skills that are desirable to employers in a range of fields.

91% of graduates from the Department of Philosophy are in work or further study within 15 months of graduating. (Graduate Outcomes Survey 2018/19; First Degree responders from Philosophy)

Among other skills, you will learn how to:

  • communicate ideas clearly and precisely
  • think clearly about complex and abstract ideas
  • consider social and ethical issues in a structured way
  • work both independently and in a team
  • build a sound case for your views
  • criticise arguments effectively
  • engage in productive debate
  • produce analytical and argumentative written work.

 

Past graduates have worked for KPMG, the Civil Service, IBM, PwC, Lloyds, museums, charities, schools and universities, or have pursued PhD research.

Some have entered the highest levels of politics, the U.N., and multinational corporations. Others have started their own businesses or trained as lawyers. The possibilities for a philosophy graduate are vast.

Professional placement year

You can gain invaluable work experience and explore your career options by transferring to a four-year degree and undertaking a professional placement year during your studies.

A placement year will allow you to broaden and deepen your skills, develop professional networking, and build your confidence. You will explore your career options even further. Graduating with a year’s worth of experience will help you stand out in a competitive graduate job market.

You might even return from your placement with a job offer in hand from your placement provider.

A close-knit community

As a Philosophy students, you will be part of a thriving, dynamic community of students and academics, all of whom will welcome you and support you throughout your degree.

Our warm and friendly academic community hosts a regular programme of visiting speakers from around the world, as well as social events organised by our student-run Philosophy Society.

Read more about undergraduate student life in the Department of Philosophy

 

How you'll study

Engage in discussion and debate with leading academics, explore speciality subjects in thought-provoking modules and benefit from a range of assessments methods.

Read Joey's story

I really appreciated the friendly and conversational environment in the Philosophy Department. You'd inevitably bump into someone you knew and get talking in the philosophy corridor, and I enjoyed being on good terms with the academics.

Joey Jones

BA Philosophy graduate

Our research

100% of our research environment and 96% of our research outputs were rated to be of international quality in the latest Research Excellence Framework (2014).