Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

Now In Clearing
BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

Overview

The details
Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
VV56
October 2019
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Our course enables you to study philosophy, with a special focus on issues regarding religion and ethics, including momentous issues like the meaning of life, the relationship between faith and reason, arguments for and against the existence of God and the moral status of abortion and euthanasia. Study both classic texts and on-going debates in these fields, across a range of philosophical traditions. You will be equipped to engage with these discussions in an informed and critical way.

We are involved in many exciting and interdisciplinary research projects, and have active links with other areas including political science, law, sociology, psychoanalysis, and art history.

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).

Why we're great.
  • We focus on the existential questions of human life, and provide a critical perspective on the social, political and economic challenges we are facing today.
  • We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).
  • Our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad.
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 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 open-minded and enthusiastic staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests. Some recent projects and publications include:

  • Béatrice Han-Pile and Dan Watts’ major new research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today
  • 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

Specialist facilities

Take advantage of our extensive learning resources to assist you in your studies:

Your future

We know that the world of work is changing. Employers want graduates who can think laterally logically and creatively about practical problems and are effective communicators.

At Essex, we are serious about providing you with a teaching environment in which you develop the skills you need to flourish in the discipline, and to be prepared for the jobs you aspire to in the future.

A degree in Philosophy at Essex provides you with::

  • The ability to analyse and solve difficult problems
  • The ability to think clearly, creatively, and self-critically
  • The ability to work in a team, taking a collaborative approach to problems

Philosophy graduates are therefore well-suited to a wide range of occupations, including law, PR, journalism and the media, the Civil Service, charity work, banking, and the NHS. Our recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies.

We also work with the university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

Clearing entry requirements

Specific entry requirements for this course in Clearing are not published here but for most of our degree courses you will need to hold a Level 3 qualification. If you are interested in applying and have already received your results, use our Clearing application form to apply for 2019 entry and find out if you are eligible. You will be asked to provide details of your qualifications and grades.

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.

Introduction to Philosophy

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of knowledge, agency, selfhood, and the vices and virtues of the mind. 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 undermine our reasoning and lead our practical deliberations astray? Can the study of philosophy help us transcend such barriers to good reasoning? And can we flourish as intellectual agents?

View Introduction to Philosophy 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 philosophers including Nietzsche, Weber and Freud.

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

Critical Reasoning and Logical Argument

Sharpen your debating skills through learning how to construct and deconstruct arguments. You learn how to identify arguments in philosophical texts, how to assess arguments for logical soundness, and how to formulate your own arguments.

View Critical Reasoning and Logical Argument 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 humans 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’ve 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

Philosophy and Religion

Have you ever tried to discredit a belief by pointing out its backstory? “You only believe that because you grew up in X!” or “You only believe that because you have traits X, Y, or Z!” Philosophers call this a Genealogical Debunking Argument (GDA), because it aims to undermine some belief by describing its origin. GDAs exert significant influence in the philosophy of religion. Historically, figures like Marx, Nietzsche, and Freud wielded these arguments to great effect; and today one regularly encounters naturalistic GDAs, e.g., “You only believe in God because have a ‘god-shaped hole’ in your brain!” But are these arguments any good? That’s the question we will explore in this module.

View Philosophy and Religion on our Module Directory

Ethics

This module investigates one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While students may have had the chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to examining its details and considering the most important criticisms lodged against it. We will look at the philosophy of action and views of human freedom that underpin the Kantian ethical outlook, as well as its practical requirements, its strategies of justification, and the key objections to the Kantian ethical project as posed by consequentialism and virtue ethics. The main focus will be on a close reading of the Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals [1785], but other texts by Kant will also be considered.

View Ethics on our Module Directory

Texts in Practical Philosophy

In this module we will engage in a close study and discussion of texts in ethical and political philosophy. For example, in a module dedicated to the study of Marx’s work, students will read sections of The Communist Manifesto on a weekly basis, supplemented by other works by Marx, critical responses from his contemporaries, and the work of later theorists.

View Texts in Practical Philosophy on our Module Directory

Texts in the Philosophy of Religion

This module is dedicated to close readings of key works in the philosophy of religion. For example, one might examine Augustine’s Confessions to examine the nature of the theological virtues of faith, hope and love. Can these virtues be said to be within our control? If not, how can these be considered virtues? How can I be praised for having faith, hoping, or loving if whether I have faith, hope or love is not up to me? Religious themes will be considered in light of the question of how theycan be relevant to the non-believer or practitioners of other religions.

View Texts in the Philosophy of Religion on our Module Directory

Ancient Philosophy

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.

View Ancient Philosophy on our Module Directory

Topics in Analytic Philosophy

`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.

View Topics in Analytic Philosophy on our Module Directory

Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing

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 <i>Nineteen Eighty Four</i> 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.

View Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing on our Module Directory

Modern Social and Political Thought

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.

View Modern Social and Political Thought on our Module Directory

Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step

This module offers you the opportunity to build up a portfolio of experiences, skills, and knowledge that will help prepare you for the graduate job you’re looking for. You learn about future career possibilities, gain an insight into what graduate employers are looking for, and access a range of opportunities for valuable work experience on and off campus.

View Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step on our Module Directory

Topics in the Philosophy of Religion

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.

View Topics in the Philosophy of Religion on our Module Directory

Philosophy and Medical Ethics

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 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. It will be co-taught on a particular theme, with the theme for Summer Term being 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. Students will be split into two groups that will be taught about these two respective traditions in alternating weeks.

View Philosophy Capstone Module on our Module Directory

Nietzsche (optional)

Devote yourself to a close study of Nietzsche`s 1887 On the Genealogy of Morality. You explore many of the most significant themes in Nietzsche`s work, including his account master and slave moralities, ressentiment, guilt, and nihilism.

View Nietzsche (optional) on our Module Directory

Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional)

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.

View Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional) on our Module Directory

Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)

Kant's <i>Critique of Pure Reason</i> 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.

View Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Philosophy Dissertation (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a dissertation on a philosophical topic studied in either your second year or the autumn term of your final year.

View Philosophy Dissertation (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.

Teaching

  • Teaching typically takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions.
  • Seminars allow your lecturer to explain new arguments and ideas in more detail, while giving you sufficient time for questions, collective discussion and active engagement with the material
  • We believe that discussion is the lifeblood of philosophy, and we try to keep our classes as small as we can for this purpose
  • In the second and final-year of your degree, we add an additional contact hour to each module
  • In the Summer term of the second and final-year of your degree we offer additional modules which cover additional topics and develop your research skills

Assessment

  • In your first year, modules are typically assessed by essays and exams (with most modules weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams)
  • We are the only Philosophy Department in the UK that has scrapped all formal exams in the second and final-year of your degree
  • In place of exams, we have a whole range of innovative assessments (e.g. essays, in-class assessments, presentations, group work, reading summaries) designed to boost your transferable skills.

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£9,250

International fee

£15,000

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

Home and EU 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.

2019 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday, September 21, 2019
  • Saturday, October 26, 2019

How to apply during Clearing

Once you’ve checked that we have the right course for you, applying couldn’t be simpler. Fill in our quick and easy Clearing application form with as much detail as you can. We’ll then take a look and get back to you with a decision. There’s no need to call us to apply; just do it all online.

Find out more about Clearing

Interviews

We don’t interview all applicants during Clearing, however, we will only make offers for the following course after a successful interview:

  • BA Multimedia Journalism
  • BSc Nursing (Adult)
  • BSc Nursing (Mental Health)
  • BA Social Work

The interview allows our academics to find out more about you, and in turn you’ll be able to ask us any questions you might have. Further details will be emailed to you if you are shortlisted for interview.


Apply now
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