About the course
This course is for you if you need to improve your English language skills and subject knowledge of philosophy before going on to a Masters course. You improve your language fluency and academic vocabulary, develop your academic skills, and gain experience of western methods of teaching and learning so that you can progress onto a relevant Masters course in our School of Philosophy and Art History.
At Essex, you can progress onto our MA Philosophy, MA Philosophy (Continental Philosophy Pathway), MA Philosophy (Critical Social Theory Pathway), MA Philosophy (Philosophy and Psychoanalysis Pathway), or MA Philosophy (Philosophy and Art History Pathway).
Our Essex Pathways Department offers some of the best routes for international students to enter higher education in the UK. Our innovative courses and programmes have proved very successful with international students and have also attracted UK students because of the distinctive learning environment we offer.
If you are an international student, you may find that the education system in the UK is slightly different from other countries and, sometimes, that the transition to the British system can be challenging. Our courses help you to settle in and adapt to life in the UK.
Our School of Philosophy and Art History is widely regarded as among the very best in the UK, and are ranked Top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and being placed in the top 10 in The Guardian University Guide in 2010, 2011, and 2013.
Our expert staff
Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF 2014).
Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.
Recent projects and publications include:
- Béatrice Han-Pile and Dan Watts’ major new research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today
- The Essex Autonomy Project, a major interdisciplinary project funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), which aims to investigate the role of autonomous judgment in many aspects of human life
- Peter Dews’ The Idea of Evil
- Irene McMullin’s Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations
- Fabian Freyenhagen’s Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly
- David McNeill’s An Image of the Soul in Speech: Plato and the Problem of Socrates
By studying within our Essex Pathways Department, you will have access to all of the facilities that the University of Essex has to offer:
- We provide computer labs for internet research; classrooms with access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials
- Our new Student Services Hub will support you and provide information for all your needs as a student
- Our social space is stocked with hot magazines and newspapers, and provides an informal setting to meet with your lecturers, tutors and friends
You can also take advantage of our excellent philosophy facilities:
- Postgraduate students have access to desk space in the School and many students work there on a daily basis
- A dedicated German-language course for graduate students in philosophy
- Attend our Critical Theory Colloquium
- Attend the Werkstatt, where recent work on phenomenology is presented
- An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
- Access a variety of philosophy textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library and in our departmental library
Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.
Want to improve your English? Keen to practise your language skills? Revise your existing understanding of English grammar and vocabulary. Extend your knowledge of academic English. Learn to deliver an effective presentation and to communicate clearly in seminars or tutorials. Develop your independent enquiry and learning skills.
Now it’s time for a longer assignment. You will work with the support of your EAP lecturer to write a 2,500 word compare and contrast essay using academic sources. You will also develop your ability to give a presentation on an academic topic and develop your awareness of the reporting and referencing strategies needed to present a range of views while avoiding plagiarism.
What interests you? Undertake an in-depth investigation on a topic related to your course that you have chosen. Research, review and complete a 2,500-3,000 word assignment, that presents a balanced opinion while evaluating current knowledge. Deliver a presentation of your findings to the rest of your group.
Can you identify and deconstruct an argument? Or construct an argument? Build your critical thinking skills by examining the concepts involved. Learn to apply this reflection when critically evaluating work. Understand the language and discourse of academic writing, and the importance of critical thinking in an academic context.
What is the nature and limit of human knowledge? What are the relations between faith and reason? What is the relation between the body and the mind? Study the philosophical texts of the modern era that helped lay the conceptual foundations for these questions and others. You explore the work of Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume.
Discover the relations between philosophy and literature. You study Iris Murdoch’s account of life as a ‘pilgrimage’ from appearance to reality, which she claims is the concern of great art, and Martha Nussbaum’s rejection of this in her discussion of Greek tragedy. You then explore Richard Rorty’s account of Nineteen Eighty Four as demonstrating that no ‘truth’ is written into the human condition, before finally looking at Stanley Cavell’s comparison of philosophical scepticism and Shakespearean tragedy.
Since the Enlightenment, religious belief in the Western World has been under new pressures to justify itself in terms compatible with the worldview of modern science. You explore the work of philosophers who have sought to show that we can and need to make a place for religion in modern cultural and social life, through the work of Hegel, Rosenzweig, Habermas, and Levinas.
Can we say that our moral judgements are capable of being true or false? If they are, does their truth depend on certain moral facts? Can we describe these facts as natural? In this module you explore ethical theory, considering the challenges to morality which seem to make it impossible, or to undermine our commitment to it.
How should theory and theorists relate to real politics? What are the competing approaches in contemporary philosophy? In this module you study both the liberal, ideal theories of justice as shaped by John Rawls, but also compare them to alternative approaches. You also explore the notion of injustice through asking what, if anything, is wrong with inequality, applying this to cases such as exploitation, marketization, objectification and stereotyping.
Many of Freud`s ideas have become integral to the ways in which we think about ourselves and about our mental life. At the same, Freud`s claims about the nature and functioning of the human mind raise many intriguing and unresolved philosophical questions. You study Freud’s method of interpreting the unconscious meaning of dreams, conceptions of gender and sexuality, and the nature of the unconscious, before considering philosophers who have criticised Freud, including Sartre, Wittgenstein, Ricoeur, and Habermas.
Can belief in God be reconciled with the reality of terrible evils in our world? Take an in-depth look at such central topics in the philosophy of religion and advance your understanding of key concepts such as: faith, theodicy, trial, free will, resignation, spiritual trial, sin, grace, sacrifice and forgiveness.
Discover the philosophical questions that are raised by everyday medical practice and recent developments in medical science. You consider topics including suicide, euthanasia, abortion, cloning, reproductive medicine, resource allocation, medical research, confidentiality, patient autonomy, and biopolitics.
With the debt crisis, rising inequality and unemployment, ecological degradation, extreme poverty among 40% of the world`s population, and resource-driven wars, capitalism has once again come under intense critical scrutiny. Does it foster economic growth and protect individual freedom, as its proponents claim; or is it a destructive system out of control, as its detractors argue? Should the market be given even freer rein? Or should capitalism be reformed, restricted, or even abolished altogether?
`Analytic Philosophy` is a (sometimes controversial) term that is commonly used to describe the dominant philosophical tradition in the English-speaking world for much of the 20th century. This module introduces you to some of the founding figures of the analytic tradition (Russell, Wittgenstein, Frege), and some of the most important representatives from its subsequent development (Quine, Putnam, Davidson). Explore topics at the heart of these debates including the private language argument, possible worlds, personal identity, and the limits of thought.
Discover ancient Greek philosophy, focussing on Plato and Aristotle. In their writings, philosophy is understood not as an academic discipline, but as the fulfilment of a distinctively human possibility for inquiry. They saw philosophy as a way of life. You explore their accounts of ethics, politics, metaphysics and theory of knowledge, as well as the pre-Socratic philosophies of Parmenides and Heraclitus.
Devote yourself to a close study of Nietzsche`s 1887 On the Genealogy of Morality. You explore Nietzsche’s early reflections on the parallels between modern and ancient Athenian decadence, and also address many of the most significant themes in Nietzsche`s later work, including the opposition between master and slave moralities, ressentiment, and nihilism.
This module introduces students to key debates in modern social and political thought. We focus on seminal texts by authors such as Hobbes, Spinoza, and Rousseau, whose contributions have radically transformed our understanding of social and political life. We explore the roots of modern notions like the state and society, and scrutinise the nature of freedom, power and democracy. Finally, we consider whether these authors’ accounts of social misdevelopments can still guide critiques of contemporary society.
How and why are women oppressed? What is a “woman”, and should we even use the term? Should we be aiming for freedom, or equality, or justice – and what do these terms mean? This module will look at some of the main strands in modern feminist theory, and explore the different ways in which they understand the nature, role and objectives of feminism.
Existentialism encompasses a variety of different thinkers unified by a.) the belief that human existence cannot be fully understood using the categories provided by the philosophical tradition or the natural sciences, and b.) a commitment to taking seriously the first-person quality of experience as it is lived. For this reason Existentialism has close ties to Phenomenology, which is a philosophical methodology defined by its insistence on examining meaning as it is experienced first-personally in order to uncover the structural necessities governing the possibility of those meaningful experiences. This module is dedicated to the intersection of these philosophical approaches.
Kant's Critique of Pure Reason initiates a new 'critical' method in philosophy which has been highly influential in both continental and analytic philosophy. His critical method establishes a new way of thinking about the relation in which we stand to the world, and the role played by knowledge and judgement within that world. You explore the ways in which Kant has been taken up in twentieth and twenty-first century continental philosophy.
- We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
- Your teaching consists of interactive classes, workshops and tutorials
- There will be an emphasis on learner independence, peer- and self-assessment
- You will also have the opportunity to attend seminars organised by our Department of Language and Linguistics
- Your assessed coursework will generally consist of essays, in-class tests and individual oral presentations
- You may be required to sit exams during the third term of your academic year
UK entry requirements
This course is not available to UK applicants.
International and EU entry requirements
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries.
for further details about the qualifications we accept. Include information in your email about the
undergraduate qualification you have already completed or are currently taking.
English language requirements
IELTS 5.5 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5
If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.
You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.
There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
We hold postgraduate events in February/March and November, and open days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
- tour our campus and accommodation
- find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
- meet our students and staff
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing email@example.com and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.