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School of Social Sciences

Philosophy lecture
BA Philosophy
Develop the knowledge and analytical skills to examine today's biggest questions.

BA Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2018

Course description

  • 97% of students on our BA Philosophy are satisfied with their course (National Student Survey 2016) 
  • Are you interested in questions about the nature of reality, knowledge, morality and religion?
  • Would you like to develop your skills related to analytical thinking, reasoned argument and systematic expression of ideas?
  • Are you looking for a flexible course that equips you for further study or the job market?
  • Would you like a chance to study abroad for a semester?

As a student on the BA (Hons) Philosophy degree, you'll learn how to develop and justify your own answers to some of the most fundamental and important questions that human beings can ask. Can I know that I'm not trapped inside The Matrix? What makes something the morally right thing to do? Do we have free will? Does God exist? Is the human mind just a lump of grey matter?

While we'll explain to you some of the existing answers to these questions, and the reasons why one might think those answers are correct, our focus is on learning how to critically assess these arguments and to develop and argue for your own answers.

You will develop extremely useful skills during your study: how to present an effective and rigorous argument, how to develop criticisms of other people's arguments and views, how to explain difficult material clearly and concisely, and how to deal with the fact that on most of the important questions in life (and indeed some of the less important ones), reasonable people can believe radically different things.

These skills are hugely valuable in any career as well as in everyday life, whether you're trying to decide what you should do, having an argument with a friend, or simply reading a newspaper.


  • To deliver structured yet flexible programmes of study, informed by current research, in which students critically evaluate, and think through for themselves, philosophical arguments and problems.
  • To provide students with a curriculum within which they study texts and questions central to the analytical tradition in philosophy, and, if students wish, texts and questions from outside that tradition; to develop, in partnership with students, students' subject-specific knowledge, cognitive, intellectual and transferable skills, and thereby prepare students for further academic study and employment.
  • To employ an appropriate variety of teaching and assessment methods to meet Philosophy's aims and the programmes' respective learning outcomes.
  • To use learning resources effectively and efficiently to meet Philosophy's aims and the programmes' respective learning outcomes.
  • To provide students with an effective induction programme, and academic and pastoral support, in order to enhance their progress and academic development.

Special features

  • There are 14 permanent members of the academic teaching staff and around 100 single honours philosophy student across all three years.
  • All permanent members of philosophy teaching staff are internationally recognised researchers publishing their work in journals and books and giving talks around the world.

Our students

Philosophy students in figures (2014):

  • Students on the course came from 6 countries
  • Their ages ranged from 17 - 32
  • The male / female ratio was 55 : 45

Meet our students

Teaching and learning

Most course units feature formal lectures supported by smaller tutorials or seminars, in which you will be able to explore the contents of lectures and recommended reading in greater depth.

Tutorials and seminars are also key elements in improving your written and oral communication skills through group discussions, essay-writing and presentations.

Students are assigned an Academic Advisor, an academic member of staff who takes a friendly interest in your progress and can advise you on selecting course units and career opportunities.

Coursework and assessment

In Years 1 and 2, course units are normally examined by a two-hour unseen exam (counting for two-thirds of the final mark) and approximately 3,000 words of essay work (counting for one-third of the final mark).

For course units in logic there are weekly worksheets, which form part of the assessment.

In Year 3 we deploy a broader range of assessment methods, including a second essay instead of an exam and oral presentations in tutorials. You also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Course content for year 1

The emphasis is on giving you a proper grounding in philosophy. You will take a course on Critical Thinking together with your choice of four of the following four courses:

  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology
  • History of Philosophy
  • Introduction to Philosophy of Mind 

In addition you will take a `free choice' course unit from courses across the University. Examples include political theory, art history, languages, and theology.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introduction to Ethics PHIL10021 20 Mandatory
Critical Thinking PHIL10041 20 Mandatory
History of Philosophy PHIL10401 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology PHIL10622 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Philosophy of Mind PHIL10632 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology PHIL10622 20 Optional
Introduction to Philosophy of Mind PHIL10632 20 Optional
Philosophy & Social Science PHIL10641 20 Optional
Introduction to Political Theory POLI10702 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

In your second year you will go into the study of Philosophy in much greater depth. The BA Philosophy course at Manchester is a modular course and you take 120 credits of courses over the year (around 6/8 individual course units).

You will choose at least one of the following (20 credits each): 

  • 20 th Century Analytical Philosophy
  • Philosophical Methods
  • Formal Logic

Plus at least one of these (20 credits each):

  • Ethics
  • Aesthetics

Plus 60 credits from philosophy and political theory course units, with a choice that typically includes the courses above as well as:

  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Phenomenology
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Freedom and Equality
  • Philosophy of Science

For your final 20 credits, you can take an additional philosophy or political theory course unit or 20 credits of free choice units.

Free choice units

In your second year you can also take 20 units from across the University.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Jurisprudence LAWS20101 20 Optional
Philosophy of Religion PHIL20021 20 Optional
Formal Logic PHIL20041 20 Optional
Locke, Berkeley, Hume PHIL20212 20 Optional
Ethics PHIL20232 20 Optional
20th Century Analytical Philosophy PHIL20241 20 Optional
Philosophy of Science PHIL20261 20 Optional
Philosophy of Mind PHIL20271 20 Optional
Philosophical Methods PHIL20891 20 Optional
Aesthetics PHIL20952 20 Optional
Existentialism PHIL23002 20 Optional
Arguing About Politics: Political Theory in the World POLI20602 20 Optional
Ideals of Social Justice POLI20881 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 13 course units for year 2

Course content for year 3

In your final year you take 120 credits overall which includes a substantial, independent piece of research on a topic of your choosing. This leads to a dissertation of either 7,500 words (20 credits) or 15,000 words (40 credits).

Your remaining 100/80 credits come as four or five course units in philosophy (or an approved course unit in Politics or Law).

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Jurisprudence LAWS20101 20 Optional
Dissertation (20 credit) PHIL30000 20 Optional
Dissertation (40 credit) PHIL30030 40 Optional
Metaphysics PHIL30212 20 Optional
Philosophy of Language PHIL30311 20 Optional
Philosophy of Psychology PHIL30361 20 Optional
Advanced Topics in Aesthetics: Fiction PHIL30622 20 Optional
Philosophy of Music PHIL30632 20 Optional
Philosophy of Mathematics PHIL30722 20 Optional
Metaethics and Religious Language PHIL30842 20 Optional
Personhood and Freedom of the Will PHIL33241 20 Optional
Displaying 10 of 11 course units for year 3

What our students say

`Though Philosophy mostly involves quiet independent study, the course at Manchester is taught by extremely competent staff who encourage intelligent debate in tutorials. The topics are thorough and well organised, not only providing me with a broad understanding of what Philosophy is and why it is important, but also with general transferable skills of analysis. I am going on to try my luck at journalism and truly believe that had I not done the degree I did, where I did it, I would be much less likely to succeed.'

Robert Knowles , Philosophy student.

`Manchester is a fantastic and diverse city that, clichéd though it may be has something to offer everyone, a characteristic that is reflected in the University. The Philosophy department in particular is highly supportive and happy to offer advice in all aspects of university life and study. The structure of the course gives you a taster of most of what Philosophy has to offer and then encourages you to explore those areas that are of greatest interest to you. I found this to be an invaluable opportunity, absent from many other disciplines; I am confident that after graduating I will be among the most employable candidates leaving the University.'

Kristina Boneva , Philosophy student.


Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: