Study philosophy at university

What is philosophy? 

Meaning 'love of thinking' in Greek, philosophy is the study of knowledge and 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?". You will learn to consider different personal and cultural points of view from throughout time and across the globe.

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.

Why study philosophy?

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

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.

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

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. 94% of philosophy graduates at Durham secured employment or went on to further study within six months of graduation in 2017.

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.

11th in the UK

for Philosophy (The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020)

World top 50 university for philosophy

(QS World Subject Rankings 2019)

Durham University student Sithara

Durham is a good choice for international students because it’s really easy to find friends. You’ve got so many points of connection: your course, your college, any extracurricular activities that you do, and they’re so diverse and friendly you always find someone to talk to.

Sithara from Germany
Studying Philosophy, Politics and Economics

Philosophy career opportunities

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. 

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