Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy and Sociology

BA Philosophy and Sociology

Overview

The details
Philosophy and Sociology
LV35
October 2021
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Philosophy analyses broad ideas around human life and the nature of existence. It concerns theories of reality, knowledge, morality, ethics, rights, legality and aesthetics. Sociology examines the different kinds of social tensions, interactions and networks that make up everyday life. It asks why individuals, groups, cultures and peoples are the way they are and how they might be different.

You will have the opportunity to study both disciplines and work with two of the UK’s leading departments – our School of Philosophy and Art History, and our Department of Sociology.

You study topics including:

  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of religion
  • Culture, identity and subjectivity
  • Public policy regarding health, the environment, crime and aging
  • Citizenship, multiculturalism and human rights

Our School of Philosophy and Art History has been ranked in the Top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).

Our Department of Sociology was rated Top 10 in the UK for research quality (REF 2014), and we are ranked 9th in the UK for Sociology in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2021).

Why we're great.
  • We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy.
  • We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
  • We provide a critical perspective on political, economic and technological developments.
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Study abroad

Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.

Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.

If you spend a full year abroad you'll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won't pay any tuition fees to your host university

Our expert staff

Our open-minded and enthusiastic philosophy staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests. Our courses are taught by world-class academics and over three quarters of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), which puts us fifth in the UK for research outputs.

Our sociology academics have their fingers on the pulse of modern society; whether it’s the battle between Apple and Spotify or the exploitation of female bodybuilders, we embed our innovative and sometimes controversial research into your course.

As well as publishing bestselling books, our academics have appeared in radio and television broadcasts such as Professor Mike Roper on the BBC World Service broadcast, London: The Psychology of War and Professor Pam Cox in the BBC TWO series Shopgirls: The True Story of Life Behind the Counter and Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.

Specialist facilities

  • 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
  • A comprehensive student support system which will direct you to the best source of advice and support in the case of personal or academic difficulties
  • Access a variety of philosophy and sociology textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library
  • Links with the Institute of Social and Economic Research, which conducts large-scale survey projects and has its own library, and the UK Data Archive, which stores national research data like the British Crime Survey
  • Our students’ Sociology Society, a forum for the exchange of ideas, arranging talks by visiting speakers, introducing you to various career pathways, and organising debates

Your future

Many employers want graduates with critical thinking skills who can think logically and creatively about practical problems.

Many of students are in demand from a wide range of employers in a host of occupations, including law, PR, project management, journalism and the media, teaching, librarianship, the Civil Service, banking, the police and fashion design.

Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies.

Philosophy develops your transferable skills, providing you with:

  • The ability to understand all sides of a dispute objectively and without forming a premature opinion
  • The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems
  • The ability to interpret dense text and to communicate effectively
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills

We also work with the university's Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A-levels: BBB

BTEC: DDM, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided.

IB: 30 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programmes at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 45 Level 3 credits at Merit or above

Flexible offers
Eligible applicants that actively choose us as their firm choice will be able to take advantage of a flexible offer. This offer will specify alternative entry requirements than those published here so, if your final grades aren’t what you had hoped for, you could still secure a place with us. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

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.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Structure

Example structure

We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. Below is just one example structure from the current academic year of a combination of modules you could take. Your course structure could differ based on the modules you choose.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore all modules listed are subject to change. To view the compulsory modules and full list of optional modules currently on offer, please view the programme specification via the link below.

Teaching and learning disclaimer

Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.

The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently planned for 2021 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.

Introduction to Philosophy

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of agency, selfhood, virtuous knowers, and healthy knowledge communities. What does it mean to say that we ‘know’ something? How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of objects? How should we address questions about selfhood and identity? Are there vices of the mind that distort our reasoning and lead our practical deliberations astray? How important is trust in a functional knowledge community? Can the study of philosophy help us flourish as moral and intellectual agents?

View Introduction to Philosophy on our Module Directory

The Sociological Imagination

How can sociology help you understand the world in which you live? What are some of the major features and trends in present-day societies? Using sociological tools, you analyse key features of different societies, such as stratification, poverty, racism, consumption, multinational corporations, religion, and the gender division of labour in low-income countries.

View The Sociological Imagination on our Module Directory

Death, God and the Meaning of Life

Ask life’s big questions: What, if anything, is the meaning of our lives? How can we become wise? Can we make sense of human suffering? How should we think about our own deaths? You take up these questions, first, by examining a series of ancient narratives, including The Myth of Sisyphus and Eden and the Fall; and then through the study of key works of modern thinkers including Nietzsche, Freud, Sartre, and Marx.

View Death, God and the Meaning of Life on our Module Directory

Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture

Certain ideas shape the way we see ourselves and the world around us - ideas like democracy, free speech, individualism, free markets, and human rights. These ideas took their definitive modern form during a politically and intellectually revolutionary stretch of history known as the Enlightenment (ca. 1650-1800). This interdisciplinary module examines this period and thus serves as an essential prerequisite for students who want to understand the intellectual currents that run through the world they live in. Graduating students often rank it among the most useful modules they have taken.

View Modern Revolutions in Science, Politics, and Culture on our Module Directory

Skills for University Studies

Making the transition from school to University studies can be challenging. This module will introduce you to University life and enable you to acquire the study skills to make a success of your degree. It also orients you to work, volunteering and extra-curricular activities so that you can acquire additional skills and experience while you study.

View Skills for University Studies on our Module Directory

Digital Society

Does technology determine history? Can games teach us about power? Does software shape society? Develop a critical understanding of the role played by human-machine relationships in contemporary cultural change. Evaluate recent developments in media technologies from a sociological perspective. Develop your own blog as part of your final assessment.

View Digital Society on our Module Directory

Continuity and Controversy in Sociology: Sociological Analysis II

Want to study sociological classics? Wish to read and interpret original texts by Marx, Durkheim and Weber? Then study a selection of the contemporary writers who followed? We look at classic and modern thinkers, carrying their ideas into new contexts and inverting approaches to social understanding.

View Continuity and Controversy in Sociology: Sociological Analysis II on our Module Directory

Capitalism and its Critics

Since the financial crisis of 2008, the social consequences, moral status, and even long-term viability of capitalism have come under renewed 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 and restricted? Or should it be abolished and replaced altogether? And, if so, what would replace it?

View Capitalism and its Critics on our Module Directory

Modern Social and Political Thought

How and why are women oppressed? How might oppression be resisted or overcome? 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. Along the way, we will discuss the intersection between gender and other axes of oppression, such as race and class.

View Modern Social and Political Thought on our Module Directory

Ethics

This is a module in ethical theory rather than applied ethics - that is, it takes up theoretical questions about the status and justification of morality rather than addressing directly practical moral problems. The exact focus will vary from year-to-year. In 2021, we will investigate one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While students might have had a chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to really wrestle with its details and consider the most important criticisms lodged against it. We will look at the philosophy of action and view of freedom that underpins the Kant’s ethical outlook; at how he conceives of moral requirements; and at his strategies of justification as well as at the key objections to the Kantian ethical project from different critics. The main text will be the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals [1785], but other texts by Kant will also be discussed. We will also use his work as a springboard to discuss wider issues in ethics, like moral luck and feminist ethics of care

View Ethics on our Module Directory

Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action

Did you know that the not-for-profit sector is expanding fast in the UK, and offers meaningful jobs that can contribute to positive social change and ecological sustainability? This module introduces you to this sector and the concept and practice of social entrepreneurship using case studies of initiatives that have helped local communities, disadvantaged people and the environment. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your skills and use your creativity and imagination to design your own project or enterprise.

View Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action on our Module Directory

Philosophy Capstone Module

This is an intensive final-year module running over five weeks during the summer term. It involves a guided and structured approach to support students in completing a research project of their own. The theme for Summer Term 2022 will be Challenges to Human Flourishing. Students will be introduced to two major research traditions in Philosophy that bear on this theme: (1) Critical Theory and (2) Phenomenology and Existentialism, both of which offer powerful resources for thinking about the nature of the good life and the many obstacles to realising it that we face.

View Philosophy Capstone Module on our Module Directory

Current Disputes in Sociology: Sociological Analysis III

How do you understand contemporary society? What role do key topics like modernity, post-modernity, feminism and capitalism play? And what do contemporary theorists like Foucault and Bourdieu say? Learn why philosophical knowledge is vital for sociological understanding, while deepening your own awareness of the subject.

View Current Disputes in Sociology: Sociological Analysis III on our Module Directory

Topics in the Philosophy of Religion (optional)

What is Islamic philosophy? How did early Muslim thinkers adapt and develop the insights of ancient Greek philosophers? How did Islamic philosophers approach issues such as free will, the good life, sexuality or the role of women? Why are the answers to some of these questions so different from what many people today might assume?

View Topics in the Philosophy of Religion (optional) on our Module Directory

Philosophy and Medical Ethics (optional)

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.

View Philosophy and Medical Ethics (optional) on our Module Directory

Crime, Media and Culture (optional)

In this module, we want to enable you to critically assess contemporary thinking and research on the relationships between crime, media and culture. These relationships have long been the subject of intense debate and this option offers an account of crime stories in the media that is more interested in their social character: the ways they are produced, circulated and read. In doing so it will also move beyond their symbolic meaning – by emphasising the work such stories perform in the wider social order, how they alter over time, shape political processes and clarify moral boundaries.

View Crime, Media and Culture (optional) on our Module Directory

Children and Young People: Criminological Approaches - Current Debates (optional)

Discover how questions of childhood and youth have driven wider debates in criminology and sociology. Ask why, how, and with what, effects children and young people have been constructed as subjects with rights, relational citizens with needs, offenders to be reformed or punished, and victims to be protected. Explore children and young people’s experiences of (il)legal youth cultures, systems of youth justice, education, child protection, family intervention and other efforts to counter social exclusion.

View Children and Young People: Criminological Approaches - Current Debates (optional) on our Module Directory

Year abroad

On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree. Our Programme Specification gives more detail on modules for your year abroad.

Teaching

  • Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
  • Seminars allow your lecturer to explain new arguments and ideas, while giving sufficient time for questions and collective discussion and debate
  • We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
  • Lab sessions to improve technical research skills

Assessment

  • Usually assessed by 2,000-3,000 word essays
  • Most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams
  • First year marks do not count towards your degree class

Fees and funding

Home/UK fee

£9,250

International fee

£16,850

EU students commencing their course in the 2021-22 academic year will be liable for the International fee.

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home/UK fee information

International fee information

What's next

Open Days

Our events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex. We run a number of Open Days throughout the year which enable you to discover what our campus has to offer. You have 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

Check out our Visit Us pages to find out more information about booking onto one of our events. And if the dates aren’t suitable for you, feel free to book a campus tour here.

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Applications are online at: www.ucas.com. Full details on this process can be obtained from the UCAS website in the how to apply section.

Our UK students, and some of our EU and international students, who are still at school or college, can apply through their school. Your school will be able to check and then submit your completed application to UCAS. Our other international applicants (EU or worldwide) or independent applicants in the UK can also apply online through UCAS Apply.

The UCAS code for our University of Essex is ESSEX E70. The individual campus codes for our Loughton and Southend Campuses are 'L' and 'S' respectively.

You can find further information on how to apply, including information on transferring from another university, applying if you are not currently at a school or college, and applying for readmission on our How to apply and entry requirements page.

Applicant Days and interviews

If you are an undergraduate student who has received an offer from us to study with us from October 2021, you will be invited to attend a Virtual Applicant Day so that you can get to know us from the comfort of your own home. Our Virtual Applicant Days will run until June 2021 and give you the chance meet academics online from the department you’ve applied to, and attend live talks and Q&A’s on our Virtual Applicant Day platform.

Some of our courses also require a compulsory interview. If you have applied to one of these courses you will receive an invite to a Zoom interview via email, along with further details about the interview process.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to 15,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

Virtual tours

If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tours allows you to explore our University from the comfort of your home. Check out our Colchester virtual tour and Southend virtual tour to see accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.

Exhibitions

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.

At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.


Find out more

The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.

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