Undergraduate Course

BA Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability

BA Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability

Overview

The details
Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability
V5L5
October 2024
Full-time
3 years
Colchester Campus

Our BA in Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability at Essex University is a course for anyone who wants to understand the environmental crises of today and play an active role in addressing them.

Philosophy provides you with the skills to analyse the environmental challenges we face and to creatively re-think our relationship to the non-human world. It ensures that you understand and respond appropriately to the ethical dimensions of environmental challenges, such as climate justice or animal ethics.

On this course, interdisciplinary modules such as “Addressing Global Sustainability Challenges” from Life Sciences enable you to make sense of the science behind these environmental challenges and to effectively cooperate with scientists in addressing these issues.

Our BA also includes Interdisciplinary Studies modules such as “Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action” and “Community Engagement: Group Projects or Global Challenges” that prepare you to get actively involved in tackling environmental challenges.

This course offers a Philosophy-led, interdisciplinary approach to sustainability and focuses on the existential questions of human life, providing a critical perspective on the social, political and economic challenges we are facing today.

We are involved in many exciting and interdisciplinary research projects, and have active links with other areas including Political Science, Law, Sociology and Psychoanalysis.We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021) and 9th for philosophy for overall positivity score (National Student Survey 2023, English Broad Discipline Institutions).

Our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad.

Why we're great.
  • Our courses can also be taken as a four-year option including a year of study abroad.
  • We are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).
  • 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.

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

Placement year

Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Student Development Team.

If you complete a placement year you'll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.

Our expert staff

Our courses are taught by world-class academics and we are 7th in the UK for research impact in philosophy (Grade Point Average, REF2021).

Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff are known for our unique combination of Anglo-American and European philosophy, and as a leading centre for critical theory, phenomenology, German idealism and medical humanities. Some recent projects and publications include:

  • Timo Jütten's major new Leverhulme-funded research project, Competition and Competitiveness
  • Irene McMullin's Existential Flourishing: A Phenomenology of the Virtues (Cambridge, 2018)
  • Steve Gormley's Deliberative Theory and Deconstruction: A Democratic Venture (Edinburgh, 2020)

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.

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

“I chose to study philosophy at Essex because I always knew the University had a good reputation for this subject. However nothing prepared me for just how brilliant it is! The atmosphere in School of Philosophy and Art History is fantastic; the lecturers are some of the most enthusiastic and interesting people you will ever meet, and so passionate about what they teach.”

Jennifer Bass, BA Philosophy

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

  • A-levels: BBB - BBC or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A-levels.
  • BTEC: DDM - DMM or 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of the equivalent of 2 full A-levels. The acceptability of BTECs is dependent on subject studied and optional units taken - email ugquery@essex.ac.uk for advice.
  • Combined qualifications on the UCAS tariff: 120 - 112 UCAS tariff points from a minimum of 2 full A levels or equivalent. Tariff point offers may be made if you are taking a qualification, or mixture of qualifications, from the list on our undergraduate application information page.
  • IB: 30 - 29 points or three Higher Level certificates with 555-554.
  • IB Career-related Programme: We consider combinations of IB Diploma Programme courses with BTECs or other qualifications. Advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • QAA-approved Access to HE Diploma: 6 level 3 credits at Distinction and 39 level 3 credits at Merit, depending on subject studied - advice on acceptability can be provided, email Undergraduate Admissions.
  • T-levels: We consider T-levels on a case-by-case basis, depending on subject studied. The offer for most courses is Distinction overall. Depending on the course applied for there may be additional requirements, which may include a specific grade in the Core.

Contextual Offers:

We are committed to ensuring that all students with the merit and potential to benefit from an Essex education are supported to do so. For October 2024 entry, if you are a home fee paying student residing in the UK you may be eligible for a Contextual Offer of up to two A-level grades, or equivalent, below our standard conditional offer.
Factors we consider:

  • Applicants from underrepresented groups
  • Applicants progressing from University of Essex Schools Membership schools/colleges
  • Applicants who attend a compulsory admissions interview
  • Applicants who attend an Offer Holder Day at our Colchester or Southend campus

Our contextual offers policy outlines additional circumstances and eligibility criteria.

For further information about what a contextual offer may look like for your specific qualification profile, email ugquery@essex.ac.uk.

If you haven't got the grades you hoped for, have a non-traditional academic background, are a mature student, or have any questions about eligibility for your course, more information can be found on our undergraduate application information page or get in touch with our Undergraduate Admissions Team.

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 contact our Undergraduate Admissions team at ugquery@essex.ac.uk to request the entry requirements for this country.

English language requirements

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall, or specified score in another equivalent test that we accept.

Details of English language requirements, including component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

If we accept the English component of an international qualification it will be included in the academic levels listed above for the relevant countries.

English language shelf-life

Most English language qualifications have a validity period of 5 years. The validity period of Pearson Test of English, TOEFL and CBSE or CISCE English is 2 years.

If you require a Student visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

Pre-sessional English courses

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.

Pending English language qualifications

You don’t need to achieve the required level before making your application, but it will be one of the conditions of your offer.

If you cannot find the qualification that you have achieved or are pending, then please email ugquery@essex.ac.uk .

Requirements for second and final year entry

Different requirements apply for second and final year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK. Details of English language requirements, including UK Visas and Immigration minimum component scores, and the tests we accept for applicants who require a Student visa (excluding Nationals of Majority English Speaking Countries) can be found here

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

Structure

Course structure

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The following modules are based on the current course structure and may change in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.

We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We'll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website and in line with your contract with us. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, we'll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.

Components and modules explained

Components

Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.

Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.

Status What this means
Core
You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory
You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Compulsory with Options
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
Optional
You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.

The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.

Modules

Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.

In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.

Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:

HR 100  4  FY

The department or school the module will be taught by.

In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.

The module number. 

The UK academic level of the module.

A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.

A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.

A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.

The term the module will be taught in.

  • AU: Autumn term
  • SP: Spring term
  • SU: Summer term
  • FY: Full year 
  • AP: Autumn and Spring terms
  • PS: Spring and Summer terms
  • AS: Autumn and Summer terms

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Philosophy
(30 CREDITS)

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and identity theory. What does it mean to say that we ‘know’ something? What if that something is ourselves? How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of objects? 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? What kind of creatures must we be in order to be capable of knowing things? What role does self-responsibility play in effective knowing? What is it to be a self? How does that differ from having an identity or identities? To what extent are our identities determined by others? Are they up to us? How can the study of philosophy help us with these questions?

View Introduction to Philosophy on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Death, God and the Meaning of Life
(30 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Introduction to Global Sustainability Challenges
(15 CREDITS)

This module will introduce you to the major themes of sustainability along with the most recent developments. Topics include environmental sustainability issues like water, food, and energy; social sustainability themes like environmental justice and transportation; and economic sustainability topics like green businesses and economic development as well as sustainability issues in universities. We will use case studies to explore examples and understand the issues and future of sustainability.

View Introduction to Global Sustainability Challenges on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

PY114-4-FY or option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Option(s) from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: COMPULSORY

Beyond the BA: Skills for the Next Step
(0 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Ethics
(15 CREDITS)

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. This year, we will investigate one of the most influential modern theories of ethics, Kant’s moral philosophy. While you might have had a chance to study some aspects of Kant’s view before, this term will be devoted to a focused critical reading of Kant’s ethical theory. We will investigate Kant’s conception of morality and his attempt to derive morality from his conception of freedom. Our texts will be Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals and occasional selections from Kant’s Metaphysics of Morals.

View Ethics on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Social Entrepreneurs, Sustainability and Community Action
(15 CREDITS)

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

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Addressing Global Sustainability Challenges
(15 CREDITS)

This module develops knowledge from the exploration of the major themes of sustainability. Case studies will be used to deepen knowledge and explore specific examples from each facet of global sustainability. We will critically examine the current action being taken at the local and global scale.

View Addressing Global Sustainability Challenges on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: OPTIONAL

CS207-5-SP and/or Philosophy option(s) from list
(45 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

Environment, Culture and Climate Change
(30 CREDITS)

Contemporary debates about climate change, concerns about the degradation of the environment, threats to biodiversity and the concomitant challenges to human health and well-being have placed the natural environment – non-human nature – at the centre of political deliberation and campaigning, both nationally and internationally. The module will explore the links between a growing consciousness of the natural environment fostered by policy makers, environmental and conservation organisations, writers, academics and the everyday feelings about and engagement with the environment by a lay public.

View Environment, Culture and Climate Change on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 01: COMPULSORY

Philosophy Capstone Module
(30 CREDITS)

This is an intensive final-year module running over five weeks during the summer term. It involves a guided and structured approach to support you in completing a research project of your own.

View Philosophy Capstone Module on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 02: COMPULSORY

Environmental Philosophy
(15 CREDITS)

This module introduces students to key debates within environmental ethics, looking at the history of environmental ethics as well as at contemporary debates within animal ethics, environmental injustice and racism, environmental activism, the rights of future generations and apocalyptic ethics. Throughout the course, we will actively engage with recent news stories and developments in environmental science, finding and discussing the ethical dilemmas these give rise to. We will consider the strengths and weaknesses of applying traditional ethical frameworks like deontology, virtue ethics and utilitarianism to these problems, and look at more recent attempts at attributing value and agency to our non-human environment.

View Environmental Philosophy on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 03: COMPULSORY

Climate Change and Pollution
(15 CREDITS)

Earth`s climate has fluctuated throughout history, but the speed of change in recent decades has been unprecedented. Warming, acidification, drought, flooding, and fire are increasingly prevalent features of our modern world. In addition, humans are responsible for widespread environmental pollution, which is any input of material or energy into air, land, or water that causes harmful environment change. The sources and ecological consequences of climate change and pollution will be explored and discussed, concentrating on biodiversity, species distributions and extinctions, and the provision of ecosystem services of benefit to humans. Examples of climate change and pollution will be presented from both terrestrial and aquatic domains, and from polar to tropical biomes, together with a review of the avenues to be followed for remediation of biosphere processes and the conservation of biological diversity. The module will be delivered through lectures and a practical session incorporating data analysis and interpretation.

View Climate Change and Pollution on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 04: COMPULSORY WITH OPTIONS

Global Challenges in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Water Conflicts, Water Cultures
(15 CREDITS)

Access to water is one of the most urgent global challenges facing us today. Vital for health and well-being, as well as integral to indigenous cultures and industrial processes, water is a threatened commons and contested commodity. In this module, we will explore global and local case studies that highlight challenges of scarcity, contamination, privatization, and climate change, and the cultural importance of bodies of water for diverse communities. We will examine water-related problems, such as economic and urban development, grassroots activism, political conflict, community relations, heritage and public health.

View Global Challenges in Interdisciplinary Perspective: Water Conflicts, Water Cultures on our Module Directory

COMPONENT 05: OPTIONAL

PY428-6-AU or Philosophy option(s) from list
(15 CREDITS)

COMPONENT 06: OPTIONAL

CS307-6-AU or Philosophy option(s) from list
(30 CREDITS)

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

Undergraduate students in the School of Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies typically attend a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar for each module every week.

  • 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 first 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 per year

International fee

£19,500 per year

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

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.

2024 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Saturday 17 August 2024 - Colchester Clearing Open Day
  • Saturday 21 September 2024 - September Open Day
  • Saturday 26 October 2024 - October Open Day

Applying

Applications for our full-time undergraduate courses should be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS). Full details on how to apply can be found on the filling in your UCAS undergraduate application web page.

Our UK students, and some of our EU 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. Independent applicants in the UK or EU 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.

Please note that this course is not open to international applicants

Offer Holder Days

If you receive an undergraduate offer to study with us in October 2024 and live in the UK, you will receive an email invitation to book onto one of our Offer Holder Days. Our Colchester Campus Offer Holder Days run from February to May 2024 on various Wednesdays and Saturdays, and our Southend Campus events run in April and May. These events provide the opportunity to meet your department, tour our campus and accommodation, and chat to current students. To support your attendance, we are offering a travel bursary, allowing you to claim up to £150 as reimbursement for travel expenses. For further information about Offer Holder Days, including terms and conditions and eligibility criteria for our travel bursary, please visit our webpage.

If you are an overseas offer-holder, you will be invited to attend one of our virtual events. However, you are more than welcome to join us at one of our in-person Offer Holder Days if you are able to - we will let you know in your invite email how you can do this.

A sunny day with banners flying on Colchester Campus Square 4.

Visit Colchester Campus

Set within 200 acres of award-winning parkland - Wivenhoe Park and located two miles from the historic city centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded development. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.


View from Square 2 outside the Rab Butler Building looking towards Square 3

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.

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 University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.

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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