Develop your ability to think critically as you engage with major philosophical debates
What are the ideas and beliefs that drive the world? How can we live ethical lives in a high-tech multicultural society? And how will we confront the challenges of the twenty-first century?
On our BA (Hons) Philosophy and Ethics course, you will have the chance to explore these questions and more as you dive into the fundamental issues of truth, reality, existence and ethics.
Our internationally-recognised academic staff help you to engage with the history of ideas to understand the major issues of today so that we can think creatively about the challenges of tomorrow
You will be joining a community of people passionate about exploring profound ethical questions, the limits of knowledge, the existence of God and the possibility of justice.
On this course you will:
- Gain an overview of major philosophical movement in their historical and cultural contexts.
- Develop your ability to think critically as you analyse arguments.
- Learn how to use your philosophical skills to think carefully and critically about problems beyond the classroom.
- Build your confidence as you learn fundamental communication and research skills.
Explore major philosophical movements in their historical and cultural contexts
Our BA (Hons) Philosophy and Ethics degree examines the key ideas that shape contemporary society: truth, freedom and the nature of reality.
You will explore the development of these ideas in classic philosophical texts while developing your ability to craft arguments and engage in debate.
In your first year, you will be introduced to fundamental philosophical ideas. These include:
- The existence of truth
- The concept of the ‘subject’
- Faith and reason
- The relationship between religion and violence.
You will also be given a grounding of key ideas from the realms of politics and law as you consider their place within contemporary society.
In your second year, you will begin to mould your degree around your interests.
You will begin to examine the application of philosophy and ethics to a range of contemporary and relevant issues, such as climate change and the environment, political extremism, freedom and justice, bio-ethics, and issues of race and gender.
By your final year, you will have a strong sense of what area you would like to focus on for your final dissertation project.
Alongside your thesis, you will have the opportunity to explore more specific aspects of Philosophy and Ethics, including: the politics of twentieth century European dictators, British culture wars, political theology, and the relationship between religion, sexuality and gender.
Select a year
Faith and ReasonThis module explores the relationship between faith and reason. When are beliefs justified? Are some beliefs beyond rational explanation? Why do people hold such beliefs? What cultural assumptions inform the way that we think about belief, reason and God?
Introduction to Political IdeasThis module introduces you to the academic analysis of politics. You will gain an understanding of politics both as an activity and as a discipline. The module focuses on the space of politics, and the conceptual approaches, ideology, schools, and methods in Politics
Law and SocietyThis module provides an interdisciplinary view of Law. You will study what is meant by both law and society, as well how law can be used as a mechanism of social control. You will also consider how the law adapts to changing social norms and opinions. Finally, you will study the role of law in promoting and protecting individual rights, equality, and diversity.
The Problem of Human NatureThe module investigates different understandings of human nature. What makes humanity distinct? Are we rational animals? Do we have souls? What is the relationship between thinking and our embodied existence? We will explore how a range of understandings with particular attention to the wider philosophical implications.
The Quest for TruthThe module investigates the relationship between philosophy and science by examining debates about different conceptions of truth. Is truth something that can be measured? Is there reality beyond the material world? Contemporary society values the explanatory powers of social and natural sciences – is there still a place for a distinctively philosophical approach to questions of truth?
Religion, Ethics and ViolenceThe twofold aim of this module is to introduce you to the historical study of religion and ethics and their relationship with violence. The module investigates this relationship through the examination of a number of historical and contemporary examples, thus introducing you to the value of studying both religion and ethics in historical perspective.
Subverting the Subject: Ideas in Literature from Barthes to ButlerThis module explores the ideas of a key set of thinkers who have sought to subvert traditional conceptions of ‘the subject’. Using literary fiction as a foundation, you will consider all the ways in which the concept of the subject might be determined by outside forces, rather than solely through the individual.
What is the Good Life?The module will introduce you to classical and contemporary ideas about the nature of happiness and its implications for living well. It will begin with an introduction to Aristotle’s idea of virtue ethics discussed in the Nicomachean Ethics. This will then be compared with contemporary ideas such as Layard’s study of happiness, religious discussions of the same topic, and significant alternate ideas such emotional intelligence, and self-actualisation.
Bio-EthicsThis module introduces you to the concept and debates of bio-ethics. You will become acquainted with the major problems in bio-ethics, especially those relating to the beginning and ending of life and discuss them multiple ethical approaches.
Critique, Suspicion and RevolutionThis module traces the development of Western philosophical ideas from the height of modern thought through the deconstructive methods of postmodernism, as you explore the challenges to modern concepts of being, reality, knowledge and subjectivity. You will investigate questions surrounding the place of philosophy in the modern world as you evaluate the legacy of modern and postmodern philosophy and its ability to address contemporary issues.
Enlightenment Europe, 1688-1789The ideas of the Enlightenment provided new ways of thinking about science, religion, education, politics and society and the place of ‘mankind’ in the world, but to what extent did the ‘philosophers’ transform society and how enlightened were they? You will explore these ideas as you engage with the works of Locke, Voltaire, Montesquieu, Diederot, Rousseau, Beccaria and Wollstonecraft.
Environment and State in Britain since 1945This module explores the British state’s evolving stewardship over the environment since the end of the Second World War. You will examine the connected environmental challenges that the state has faced in this time including pollution, urban change, resource depletion, species conservation and control, epidemics, extreme weather, the threat of nuclear war, and climate change.
Fascism and Post-Fascism in EuropeBy looking at a variety of case studies from across Europe throughout the first half of the 20th century, we will discuss the way in which fascism was both embraced and fought against. In addition, by using literary and cultural forms of post-fascism you will explore how many of the core messages of ideological fascism survived despite being politically discredited.
Freedom and JusticeThe module investigates different philosophical approaches to freedom and justice. What constitutes a free action? Can freedom be granted? What are the key components of a just society? We explore different traditions with careful attention to their historical and cultural context while considering their ability to illuminate contemporary issues and debates.
Philosophy and Theory of ReligionThis module allows you to investigate the connections between philosophy and contemporary theories on religion. Whilst recent philosophical debates have questioned the division between humans and the rest of nature, contemporary theory of religion has moved away from an understanding of religion as only a set of beliefs. Bringing together these philosophical and theoretical strands can help us re-evaluate the nature of religion and its role in contemporary society.
Saints of Sinners: Politics and Religion in the Contemporary EraThis module examines critically the role of religious ideas in contemporary political life, in particular the ways in which a variety of theological perspectives shape and influence contemporary political movements. As such, you will examine the role of religion in politics and its re-emergence as a political force and key influence on identity. The focus will be on the UK and USA with reference made to the place of religious belief in global politics.
Dissertation in Philosophy and EthicsThe dissertation is the culmination of your degree, as you produce a research project on a specific aspect of philosophy and ethics studies. The dissertation consists of a study of 9,000 words on a topic agreed between the student and the module coordinator.
British Cultural WarsThis module explores conflict within British culture from the start of the 19th century to the turn of the new millennium. You will consider the reaction to obscene publications and other literary controversies and moral panics of Victorian Britain, through to the as the liberal reforms in the 1960s and the self-censorship and the baleful influence of Hollywood on British cinema.
Philosophy and the FutureThis module investigates different philosophical conceptions of the future. Beginning with religious understandings of eschatology, messianism, millennialism and apocalypticism we will see how these ideas relate to philosophical notions of progress, utopianism and dystopianism. We will ask how we think of the future today, examining a range of philosophical texts as well as film, television, music and visual art.
Political TheologyThis modules asks how theological and religious concepts shape our understanding of a range of political ideas. Does this mean that Western society is fundamentally religious? Or do theological and religious ideas take on new meaning in secular or post-secular society? We will look at these issue from a variety of theological, sociological and philosophical perspectives.
Revisioning Religion, Gender and SexualityThe module will begin by examining the development of feminist theologies, thealogies and feminist studies of religion in the Jewish and Christian traditions. This will lead to an exploration of a range of the further developments which have emerged as result of these early developments such as womanist, mujerista, body and queer theologies as well as diverse feminist spiritualties across a range of traditions.
The Theology and Politics of Paul the ApostlePaul’s letters in the New Testament have had a major influence on the formation of Christianity as well as on political, ethical and philosophical questions more generally. This module varies between close readings of key Pauline letters and discussion of key problems – such as gender, social change, and freedom – raised by the Pauline texts throughout history.
Dictatorship, Conformity and Resistance in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy and Stalin’s RussiaThis module explores the distinctive ideologies of Soviet Communism, Italian Fascism and German National Socialism, and to consider if and how these were in fact new forms of religion. The module will also examine the construction of these ‘totalitarian’ states in practice, and the experiences of individual and institutions caught up within these contexts, with particular reference to the churches and to cultural movements
Unconscious Desires: Psychoanalysis and Culture from Freud to ŽižekThis module explores the notion of unconscious desire and the expression of these desires in literature and culture. You will trace the emergence of the ideas of psychoanalysis in the work of Freud and how various psychoanalytic thinkers have transformed the notion of unconscious desire and used it to grasp literary and cultural forms.
Discover facilities and research centres that support your learning
Learning Resource Centre
Subject specific librarians
Royal Literary Fellows
Local cultural links
Teaching and Assessment
Feel the support of internationally-recognised research staff
At our university, you will find a friendly atmosphere and an encouraging team of staff who will work hard to support your learning.
All of our tutors have recognised national and international research expertise and a passion for their respective subject areas. This ensures that you have access the latest debates within the study of Philosophy and Ethics.
Much of our teaching is in small groups. Our commitment to smaller class sizes allows you to feel more confident to discuss your ideas in a supportive environment.
It also allows your tutors get to know you and how best to aid your development.
You will be asked to undertake a variety of tasks, many of which will be useful in your future careers.
You will be asked to write essays as you might expect, but you might also write book reviews, reviews of films, write reports on projects, make a video, construct an exhibition and make presentations.
We will give you feedback as you go along, meaning you don’t have to wait until the end of term to know whether you have succeeded or not. You will get a lot of support so there is no need to worry about assessment.
Employ your skills and knowledge in the pursuit of an exciting career
Our students go on to an incredibly varied range of careers after university.
The skills learnt on our degrees equip students for all sorts of roles in society, there is no one typical career undertaken by our graduates.
Career paths include:
- The police
- Human resources
- Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)
- Local and national government
- Charity management
- Public administration
- The Church of England
- Communications and PR
- MA Cultural History
- MA Public Theology
- Postgraduate Research (MPhil/PhD)
Typical Offer (individual offers may vary)
Access to HE Diploma
Frequently asked questions
How do I apply?
Click the ‘Apply now’ button to go to relevant UCAS page.
What are UCAS tariff points?
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How do I know what my UCAS tariff points are?
Head to the UCAS Tariff Points web page where you can find a tariff points calculator that can tell you how much your qualification and grades are worth.
When does this course start?
This course starts in September 2022.