Study philosophy

A Durham University student in the campus

Meaning ‘love of thinking’ in Greek, to study philosophy at university is to study our place in the world. During a philosophy degree, you will be encouraged to think deeply about some of life's most fundamental questions, such as "What is truth?", "Is there a God?" and "What is the meaning of life?”. With the wide range of skills you’ll come away with as a philosophy graduate, you’ll be equipped to work in fields such as education, law, marketing, journalism or more.

Fields of philosophy

Philosophy is difficult to narrow down into definite fields, but most people agree that the following themes should always be considered (amongst others):

Epistemology - the study of knowledge. Epistemology sets out what you will study as a philosophy student.

Ethics - the science of morality (whether actions are 'right' or 'wrong').

Aesthetics - explores 'beauty': what is considered beautiful, how it is created and appreciated.

Metaphysics - the study of nature and the world humans live in. What does it mean to be alive?

Logic - explores arguments and reasoning.

Politics - the study of nations and governments, and how they affect the ordinary person.

Benefits of studying philosophy

There are a number of benefits to studying philosophy at undergraduate level:

Think deeper

Learn to question the things around you and consider the impact we have on the world and what we can do to make it a better place.

Learn to solve problems

Philosophy is all about answering questions and trying to find answers. This gives you skills in problem solving and creative thinking.

Understand others

Studying philosophy, you will need to communicate effectively with others and learn to put forward convincing arguments. You will learn to consider different perspectives, both inside and outside of your own culture.

Why study philosophy at Durham University?

Durham's Department of Philosophy is one of the most prestigious in the UK. It is a highly ranked and forward-thinking school that puts its students first. In this friendly community, you will have the opportunity to collaborate on joint research projects, making use of the Department's large grants. Students also have the opportunity to publish their own journals and can gain experience as a librarian, archivist or research assistant.

The Department of Philosophy has the third highest post-graduate employment rate of all the departments at Durham University.

Key skills from studying philosophy

There are a variety of key skills you will develop from studying philosophy at university: 

  • Problem-solving
  • Communicating complex information
  • Reasoning
  • Organisation
  • Critical thinking
  • Research

What philosophy degree can I study at Durham University?

When you complete your foundation year, you can progress to an undergraduate degree at Durham University:

Degree preparation at the International Study Centre

Our International Foundation Year in Humanities, Law and Social Science prepares international students for a philosophy degree at Durham.

You will cover a range of core modules to help you develop the academic and English language skills needed to succeed at university. You will also cover modules directly related to your degree to help you gain foundational knowledge of your subject.

Philosophy degree jobs

The Careers, Employability and Enterprise Centre works with the Philosophy Department to help students make plans for when they graduate. As a philosophy graduate, you will be able to choose to work in a number of industries and public sector roles. Of those students that left Durham in 2017, 94% are in employment or further study six months after graduating.

Jobs you can pursue with a philosophy degree

Philosophy graduates enter a wide range of careers due to the broad nature of the degree. Possible jobs include:

  • Local government officer
  • Marketing executive
  • Newspaper journalist
  • Academic
  • Psychotherapist
  • Civil servant

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is a degree in philosophy worthwhile?

Yes, a degree in philosophy can be worthwhile as it develops critical thinking, analytical skills, and a deeper understanding of fundamental questions about existence, ethics, and knowledge, which can be applied to various fields.

Is a philosophy degree difficult?

Studying philosophy can be intellectually challenging as it requires analysis, abstract thinking, and careful interpretation of texts and arguments. However, it is very rewarding for those passionate about philosophical inquiry.

Is philosophy a good career?

A philosophy degree can lead to many career paths, including academia, law, public policy, writing, consulting, and more. While career opportunities may vary, the skills you gain from studying philosophy, such as critical reasoning and ethical analysis, are valuable in many professions and can contribute to personal and professional success.