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BA (Hons) Philosophy

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.

Why choose this course?

We give you:

  • An exceptional academic team, conducting internationally renowned research
  • A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
  • The opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic about which you are passionate
  • CV-building potential through extra-curricular activities

What's the course about?

Philosophy explores and challenges the assumptions that frame the way we think, act and see the world around us.

Here at Hertfordshire, you won’t just be learning about philosophers and understanding their theories, you’ll be doing rigorous and creative thinking of your own. Our internationally regarded academics will help you learn to address the arguments of others, to understand and engage with them so that you can arrive at your own conclusions and create your own original work.

All our 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.

On this course no prior knowledge of philosophy is assumed, although students with Religious Studies A-level may be familiar with topics such as ethics, mind, knowledge and reality. In your first year you’ll explore new dimensions to these topics and consider questions about the meaning of life. You’ll also study social and political philosophy, the central concern of which is the best way of organising society. A first-year module on the philosophy of film and literature takes you beyond the mainstream. Studying fiction and films such as Back to the Future allows you to address the assumption that anything is possible in fiction and consider to what extent that is true.

In your second year you’ll be able to delve deeper into areas such as philosophy of art and philosophy of mind. A module on virtues, vices and ethics focuses on specific virtues, such as forgiveness, hope or love, from both a secular and religious point of view and examines what it means to live a good life. 

In your final year you can pursue your own research interests through a dissertation. Recent topics have included the ethical issues of playing video games, the nature of the imagination, environmental philosophy and the obligations of the state, and a proposed solution to the paradox of the liar. You’ll also build on previous specialisms to explore in more depth philosophers such as Nietzsche or Wittgenstein, feminist or political philosophy, contemporary moral philosophy, or the philosophy of psychology.

What will I study?

Our philosophy students benefit from being part of a lively and active academic community. You’ll learn from formal courses and extra-curricular seminars, while our small group teaching helps you to find your feet in the academic environment. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss critical issues with staff and fellow students, including an optional residential weekend each year.

You’ll have the opportunity to get involved in activities that will complement your studies and enhance your CV. These include our Philosophy Society, run by students, which hosts fortnightly research seminars led by distinguished external philosophers. All students are welcome to participate and become part of a professional philosophy community.

We host the Francis Bacon annual lecture series, funded by the Royal Institute of Philosophy, which focuses on showing the relevance of philosophy beyond the academic world. We are also the home of the British Wittgenstein Society, reflecting our academics’ research interests. 

'I certainly developed professionalism and employability through studying Philosophy, primarily through the methods of rational and logical problem solving. I acquired a skill that is useful in whatever field one works in. However, it is enterprise that I most notably improved on while at Herts. I had never really considered starting a businesses or working for myself, but while studying Philosophy (particularly my Masters by Research and my undergraduate dissertation) I realised I was learning self-management and combining this with my new proficiency at problem solving sent me down a new path. Since leaving Herts I have set up multiple small business which are growing healthily. This individuality has really helped me find out what I want to do in life.'

Rob Baggs

BA(Hons) Philosophy, MA(Res) in Philosophy

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 keep me on top of my studies. After that, I begin each day with an hour gym session on de Haviland 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 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 8 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; 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 me. This allowed me to look into the recommended reading and explore the extra resources given to me. I try not to overload myself with information that is unimportant (relatively speaking).

In my joint honours course, coursework makes up around 40-50% of the classification in the first year. Exams make up the rest. What I was surprised to find out upon enrolling, is that once you get into a rhythm with coursework, you can make template documents which include things like an empty bibliography and a title. They are relatively straight forward. I feel that the overwhelming feeling from coursework and exams comes when you don’t feel like you have access to the resources. 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, 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 being 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. Freshers fairs and endless other things going on too for first years. Wednesday’s and Friday’s I usually go out to campus club, the Forum 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. Studying a subject that you are passionate about helps a lot!

Student Blogs

Kailan - Things you should know

Things you need to know before studying PiR at UH

Before you choose to 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 friendly and supportive 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(maybe in another decade or so).
  • You can, and should, make a study plan that suits you. In my opinion, the school 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 to find one piece of information; 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 or study abroad for free! Studying a language as an elective (an extra module) is free. 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. You can find a placement abroad within Politics and IR with help from the staff.  They help you with applying, interview prep 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 then 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, have fun. University is not all about the degree. 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 1 to 1 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 subject 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