Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

BA Philosophy, Religion and Ethics

Overview

The details
Philosophy, Religion and Ethics
VV56
October 2021
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 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

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

Critical Reasoning and Logical Argument

Sharpen your philosophical skills through learning how to construct and deconstruct arguments. Learn how to identify arguments in philosophical texts, how to assess arguments for logical validity and 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 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

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 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

Texts in Practical Philosophy (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Reading texts from the history of philosophy (optional)

In this module we will intensively examine a classic philosophical text, treating it not only as a historical document, but principally with regard to its ongoing contribution to philosophical thinking.

View Reading texts from the history of philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Ancient Philosophy (optional)

Discover Ancient Greek philosophy and read some of the most influential works in the history of Western Philosophy. In this module we focus on Plato and Aristotle, exploring how ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, metaphysics and psychology are all intertwined. The course begins with an overview of philosophy before Socrates and ends with a short exploration of the philosophical schools that flourished in the Roman empire.

View Ancient Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Capitalism and its Critics (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing (optional)

This module examines what it means to be a self, focusing on the fundamental role that some philosophers think narratives have to play in this. Topics covered include: subjectivity, self-control, self-expression and the relational self.

View Narrativity, Truth and Flourishing (optional) on our Module Directory

Modern Social and Political Thought (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step (optional)

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 (optional) on our Module Directory

Topics in the Philosophy of Religion

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 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. 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

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

Feminism (optional)

How and why are women oppressed? What is a “woman”, and should we even use the term? 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 Feminism (optional) on our Module Directory

Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)

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.

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/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.

Related courses

Ask us a question
Ask us a question

Want to quiz us about your course? Got a question that just needs answering? Get in touch and we’ll do our best to email you back shortly.