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BA (Hons) Philosophy with a Language

Due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, examinations may be replaced by an alternative form of assessment during the academic year 2020/2021. Please refer to the Programme Specification on these pages for further details.

Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK
Our Philosophy team is in the top 25 in the UK
Host of the annual Sir Francis Bacon lectures
Host of the annual Sir Francis Bacon lectures
Home of the British Wittgenstein Society
Home of the British Wittgenstein Society

This course includes the sandwich year options of:

Work Placement*

Study abroad*

*No fees are charged for this year

Why choose this course?

We give you:

  • Transferable skills that employers value
  • An exceptional academic team, conducting internationally renowned research
  • Stimulating, innovative courses that allow you to make rewarding connections between two disciplines
  • The prospect of boosting your employability by learning a language
  • Transferable skills such as using your own initiative, problem solving, communication and cultural awareness that employers value.

What's the course about?

BA (Hons) Philosophy with French, German or Spanish - UCAS Code: V5R9

BA (Hons) Philosophy with Mandarin or Japanese - UCAS Code: V5T9

Philosophy explores and challenges the assumptions that frame the way we think, act and see the world around us. In learning a language, new cultures and different perspectives become accessible to you. 

In your first year, you’ll start to learn your chosen language at a level determined by your previous experience of that language, and you’ll start to learn about aspects of the culture and lifestyle of the people of those countries in which that language is spoken. You can further your understanding of other countries’ cultures and customs by studying one of five languages – French, German, Japanese, Mandarin or Spanish.  Having a language in your degree title gives you an immediate international edge, whilst also making you a more confident, capable and culturally aware graduate.

In your philosophy modules, you will be introduced to a variety of philosophical issues ranging from the nature of reality, knowledge and mind, to questions about how we should live, what we should value, and what would be the best way of organizing society. There is a module which explore philosophically interesting aspects of film and literature, as well as a module examining reasoning and persuasion and how that might be inflected by the language in which it is conveyed.

All our philosophy lecturers are active researchers, so you’ll share the excitement of doing original work in a supportive and highly-rated academic community. Our Philosophy team is in the top 15 in the Guardian League Table 2019 and rates as one of the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide in the 2017 QS rankings. 

Our languages team are consistently rated by students as being outstanding teachers. 

In your second year, whilst continuing to learn your chosen language, you’ll be able to select areas of philosophy on which to focus, such as on influential works of philosophy, ethics, the philosophy of art, the philosophy of religion, metaphysics, knowledge, the philosophy of mind, and social and political philosophy. There is also a logic module, in which you could learn some languages of logic.

In your final year, as well as having more advanced language skills, you’ll also learn about the aspects of social, economic, cultural or historical perspectives of the countries in which your chosen language is spoken. You will delve deeper into more specialist areas of philosophy, perhaps focusing on the work of Aristotle, Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, or choosing from such areas as the philosophy of language and the philosophy of psychology, or from more social and political topics, such as feminist philosophy. There is also the possibility of embarking on your own piece of philosophical research on a topic of your choosing.

Student Blogs

Kailan - Week at a glance

Weekly schedule blog post

At the beginning of my week, I make a to-do list of all the things that I need to do on top of my studies. After that, I begin with an hour each day at the state-of-the-art gym and swimming pool on the de Havilland campus where my classes are. I then get showered; have breakfast, pack my bag, and walk to my classes. I’m a visual learner, so I focus on just listening to the lecturer, and engaging with the content as much as possible; especially if I am in a seminar. I re-watch the lectures and seminars on Canvas (our online learning portal), as I learn best from visual/audio resources.

I love that at the University, you get the choice to study in a way that suits you. There is absolutely no pressure in sticking to certain means, and you can (to a reasonable degree), build a studying pattern that suits you. I usually have between eight and 13 hours of classes a week (depending on the semester), and I study Politics, International Relations, and Philosophy.

For me, the lectures and seminars are my best resource; and the information and concepts usually make complete sense to me. I struggle to read for long periods of time, so thanks to the academic English resources available for students; I was able to learn ways to read in a way that suits my style of learning. This allowed me to look into the recommended reading, and explore the extra resources given to me; while not overloading myself with information that Is ultimately unimportant (relatively speaking).

In my course (which is a joint honours), coursework makes up around 40-50% of the classification in the first year. Exams obviously make up the rest. What I was surprised to find out upon enrolling, is that once you get into a rhythm with coursework, and make template documents (which include things like an empty bibliography and a title), they are relatively straight forward. I feel that the overwhelming feeling that comes from coursework and exams, comes when you don’t feel like you have access to the resources that teach you how to write assignments efficiently - the University makes these resources available to you; you just have to reach out for them. If you have a professional and academically beautiful document; you will be more inclined to write in a similarly professional way.

Fundamentally, though, assignments and exams are super easy and fun, as long as you’re prepared (in my case having a template document, and understanding how to reference was the key), as-well-as interested in the topic that you’re studying. If you love the topic and know how to build an essay; you’ll blast through your assignments!

Going back to my typical week… There are lots to do on both campuses; especially in the first semester; with freshers fairs and endless other things going on too. Wednesday’s and Friday’s I usually go out to the Forum (the club on campus) with my flatmates. As long as you study hard, and understand the content in your own way; you will be able to afford to go out as much as you want!

The bottom line is: Work hard and play hard; prepare in advance for your assignments, and that way they’ll be super easy, and study a subject that you are passionate about!

Student Blogs

Kailan - Things you should know

Things you need to know before studying PiR at UH

Before you choose the study at the University of Hertfordshire, you need to ask yourself a few questions. What do you want out of University? If the answer is more than a degree, then Herts is the place for you. If you want to make international friends and expand your network, Herts is the place for you. If you want to have access to State of the art resources and world-class staff, then the University of Hertfordshire is for you.

So you’ve checked all of the boxes, and you’re considering Herts. That’s great! You’re planning to study Politics and International Relations; that’s great! What should you know before making your decision? Let me tell you…

  • The staff are amazing and go a million steps past what is required of them to help your experience and understanding of the content. HOWEVER, they can only do that if you reach out and discuss your issue or query with them. They’re extremely attentive, but the UH staff are not trained in telepathy, unfortunately (maybe in another decade or so).
  • You can, and should, make a study plan that suits you. The school (in my personal opinion), trains you to study in a very specific and rigid way. If that works for you; then great; proceed as you are. If you struggle to learn from the ‘traditional means’, and hate the idea of reading every word in a 15-page article in order to find one piece of information to support your argument; don’t. The staff and the department can recognise that different students learn differently. That is why there are resources made available to you to find a system that allows University to be straight forward for you. Tip: Check out the Academic English hub on campus, and discuss this with them.
  • You have the option to study a language, as-well-as study abroad for free! Studying a language as an elective (an extra module) is free; and you have the choice from multiple languages, at multiples levels; even if you’ve never spoken a word before.
  • If you wish to study abroad; there are lots of resources available to you; you can find a placement abroad within Politics and IR, and the staff will help you learn how to apply; do well in interviews, and the study abroad office can give you more specific advice on planning your trip etc.
  • University is a place for ideas; if you have an idea that you think is against the norm; the staff will ALWAYS welcome it. There are no stupid questions; if you’re thinking it, others probably will be too, and it will open up the discussion anyway!
  • Take advantage of any research opportunities presented to you by the department; they are announcing them because they really believe that it is a lucrative opportunity for students; don’t assume that it’s not for you - explore ALL opportunities.

Fundamentally though, have fun; University is not all about the degree; in many ways, the network that you build and the life that you develop during your time at UH is much more important than having a first on your transcript. The beauty of the system is that you can have both, as long as you reach out first!

Student Blogs

Kailan - Why I love PIR

What I love most about my course

I love the department. The staff go a million steps past just teaching you the assigned content. They support your ideas and interests; your professional growth, and are constantly checking to ensure that each and every student understands in a thorough, academically holistic way; the concerned content. Each and every staff member in the department is a mentor and extremely patient and attentive to a student’s pace.

You can approach professors about anything; from personal issues affecting your workflow (and asking for them to help you one to one to understand the content during their office hours) to asking them for advice concerning your professional aspirations (such as internships). I have contacted members of staff for references to internships and scholarship applications; of which they’re more than happy to help out with.

The way that the department frames your University journey during induction is important; it started with one of the subjects heads explaining to us that this is beginning of our professional lives; and that in our course, we are not students who are hierarchically lectured to by teachers; we are colleagues, who are exploring the academic discipline that we mutually take interest in.

Starting the course by showing students that this is a professional journey, and NOT a commodity, really sets the tone for the course. I feel is allows students to feel more comfortable with reaching out for help; because asking for help is a logistical thing, rather than something to be embarrassed about.

When I say that the staff go the extra mile; I am not kidding. It’s not just the outstanding attentiveness and resources put into your experience that they finetune, they also are mentors. I have asked for career advice concerning internships, and was offered mock interviews, and given advice on typical questions given in interviews within the Political field; of which the interviewer asked!

When I got accepted into a scholarship to delegate at the General Assembly, the staff members helped me out with resources on how to succeed in this venture. The staff members have offered me contacts for research and professional opportunities.

If you have any questions, or any interest, or anything you wish to clarify about anything at all; all you have to do is ask. IF you don’t ask, you don’t get. IF you do ask, you are met with mentorship and invaluable advice that will inevitably solve your issue, or help you to excel.

Study at Herts!

Student Blogs

Mercedes - Unibuddy

Alumni Stories

Jenny Vu

  • Current role: Teaching Assistant
  • Year of graduation: 2018
  • Degree course: BA (Hons) History and Philosophy with Study Abroad Year
'The best thing about my course was the diversity of the topics covered, which have all proved relevant and important. There was also a lot of opportunities to network and build industry connections.'

We asked Jenny...

What is your current role and how did you get to this point in your career?

I am a Teaching Assistant at a secondary school. I found a good recruitment agency explaining my plans to teach abroad in the near future and wanted to have more experience working in different schools.

How did your studies at the University of Hertfordshire help shape your career?

My studies here helped me to develop transferable skills like analysis and grammar. These skills are really useful when teaching my students.

What made you decide to study at this University?

The University was close to home but still relatively far enough to move out and learn to live independently.

What was the best or most useful thing about your course?

I loved that my course gave me the opportunity to study abroad for a year.

What is your stand-out memory from your time at the University?

My stand out memory from my time at the University was studying abroad for a year. It was probably the best year of my life.

Are you still in contact with friends you met at the University of Hertfordshire?

Yes I have stayed in contact with some of my university friends. We either meet up regularly or we stay in contact online.

What advice would you give your younger self if you were starting at the University tomorrow?

I would tell myself to research a lot for my assignments.

Do you have any advice for University of Hertfordshire graduates who are considering a career in your industry?

I would tell anyone who wants to get into teaching to find yourself a good school and not rush into anything. You need to make sure that the school is the best fit for you. Also, remember to be confident!

What are your future career plans/ ambitions?

I plan to teach abroad in Asia for a few years. If I decide to return to the UK, I would like to teach or promote higher education to young students.

Alumni Stories

Elizaveta Zaskalko

Meet Elizaveta Zaskalko who has explored the tourism industry and shared her passion for travel. She currently works at Expedia Inc as Associate Market Manager.

Current job roleAssociate Market Manager
Year of graduation2016
Course of studyBA (Hons) Tourism Management with French

Elizaveta Zaskalko headshot

A passion for travel

Elizaveta always had a passion for tourism and knew her career would be within the industry. She currently works at Expedia Inc as Associate Market Manager in the Join Expedia Team (JET) and is responsible for the acquisition of new hotels in Kent.

She started at Expedia straight after graduating from the University in 2016, in the role of Market Associate in the Account Management team. After a year in post she decided to step out of her comfort zone and apply for a promotion in the expanding JET team.

Studying at the University gave her a vast knowledge of the tourism industry which she previously lacked and prepared her for entering the sector. Tourism is a diverse and global industry with many career opportunities for new graduates.

She says, 'When I started my studies, I knew that I wanted to work in the tourism industry but had no idea which part of it. As I progressed, I learned about so many different branches of the industry and it really helped me to narrow it down to the one I actually really enjoyed.'

Strong employment links

'The best thing about my course is that it prepared us for the working world. The programme had a huge focus on employability, which I think was incredibly useful. Coming out of university I knew where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do and how to achieve it.'

The employment focus and links to industry embedded into Elizaveta's degree are what persuaded her to study at Herts. Our courses are designed to give students great opportunities, prepare them for professional life and provide them with direct access to their chosen profession through expert teaching and tangible industry connections.

Elizaveta says, 'An important factor for me choosing to study at the University was being able to do an industry placement year, as it's very hard to get a job without work experience nowadays. My placement year was very challenging but it was one of the most useful experiences I have had so far.'

The best thing about my course is that it prepared us for the working world. The programme had a huge focus on employability, which I think was incredibly useful. Coming out of university I knew where I wanted to go, what I wanted to do and how to achieve it.

Please note that some of the images and videos on our course pages may have been taken before social distancing rules in the UK came into force.