BA Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course description

Philosophy is the study of the most general and fundamental features of reality - including ourselves - and the knowledge and beliefs we have about that reality which are embodied in our concepts, theories and practices.

The BA (Hons) in Philosophy course enables you to learn how to develop and justify your own answers to some of the most fundamental and important questions:

  • Can I know that I'm not trapped inside The Matrix?
  • What makes something the morally right thing to do?
  • Do we have free will?
  • Does God exist?
  • Is the human mind just a lump of grey matter?

While we'll explain some of the existing answers to these questions, and the reasons why one might think those answers are correct, our focus is on teaching you how to critically assess these arguments and develop and argue for your own answers.

You will develop useful skills including:

  • how to present an effective and rigorous argument;
  • how to develop criticisms of other people's arguments and views;
  • how to explain difficult material clearly and concisely; and
  • how to deal with the fact that on most of the questions in life, reasonable people can believe radically different things.

These skills are value for your career as well as in everyday life, whether you're deciding what to do, having an argument with a friend, or simply reading a newspaper.


  • Deliver structured yet flexible study, informed by current research, in which you critically evaluate, and think through philosophical arguments and problems for yourself.
  • Provide you with a curriculum where you study texts and questions central to the analytical tradition in philosophy and from outside that tradition.
  • Develop your subject-specific knowledge, cognitive, intellectual and transferable skills, preparing you for further academic study and employment.
  • Employ an appropriate variety of teaching and assessment methods and use learning resources effectively and efficiently.
  • Provide an effective induction programme, and academic and pastoral support to enhance your progress and academic development.

Special features

Study Abroad

If you would like to broaden your horizons and your degree, you can apply to study overseas for a year at one of our partner universities. You apply in Year 2 to spend a year abroad in Year 3.

If successful, you will put together a programme of study at the host university in consultation with your Academic Exchange Advisor, to complement your studies at Manchester.

You will then come back to Manchester to study for a fourth year and graduate with a degree title including ‘with International Study'.

See The University of Manchester Study Abroad pages for more information, including eligibility criteria, destinations, costs and funding.

Teaching and learning

Course units feature formal and interactive lectures supported by smaller tutorials or seminars where you explore the contents of lectures and recommended reading in depth.

Tutorials, seminars, group discussions, essay-writing and presentations improve your written and oral communication skills.

You are assigned an Academic Advisor who takes a friendly interest in your progress and can advise you on selecting course units and career opportunities.

All permanent members of Philosophy teaching staff are internationally recognised researchers publishing their work in journals and books and giving talks around the world.

Coursework and assessment

In Years 1 and 2, course units are normally examined by a two-hour unseen exam (counting for two-thirds of the final mark) and approximately 3,000 words of essay work (counting for one-third of the final mark).

For course units in logic there are weekly worksheets, which form part of the assessment.

In Year 3 we deploy a broader range of assessment methods, including a second essay instead of an exam and oral presentations in tutorials. You also complete a dissertation in your final year.

Course content for year 1

Year 1 provides you with a grounding in philosophical traditions, themes and problems.

You can also take 20 credits in an outside subject such as Politics or a language course.

Course units for year 1

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Critical Thinking PHIL10042 20 Mandatory
Introduction to Ethics PHIL10021 20 Optional
Philosophies of Resistance: Philosophical Reflection on Movements for Social Justice PHIL10102 20 Optional
Ancient Greek Philosophy PHIL10122 20 Optional
Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology PHIL10622 20 Optional
Introduction to Philosophy of Mind PHIL10631 20 Optional

Course content for year 2

You will develop and deepen your understanding of issues introduced in the first year, and can choose new and more advanced topics to explore.

You can also take 20 credits in an outside subject, a University College course or the Manchester Leadership Programme.

Course units for year 2

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Islamic Philosophy PHIL20001 20 Optional
Philosophy of Religion PHIL20021 20 Optional
Applied Philosophy PHIL20032 20 Optional
Philosophy of Race PHIL20042 20 Optional
Formal Logic PHIL20141 20 Optional
Introduction to Ethics PHIL20232 20 Optional
20th Century Analytical Philosophy PHIL20242 20 Optional
Philosophy of Science PHIL20261 20 Optional
Philosophy of Mind PHIL20272 20 Optional
Phenomenology PHIL20612 20 Optional

Course content for year 3

Year 3 offers specialised and in-depth explorations of issues led by original researchers in the field. You also undertake a substantial independent piece of research on a topic of your choosing, and can study 20 credits in an outside subject.

Course units for year 3

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Dissertation Semester 1 PHIL30001 20 Optional
Dissertation Semester 2 PHIL30002 20 Optional
Dissertation (40 credit) PHIL30030 40 Optional
Founding Mothers: Women Philosophers and their Role in The Development of Analytic Philosophy PHIL30351 20 Optional
Philosophy of Action PHIL30552 20 Optional
Phenomenology PHIL30612 20 Optional
Advanced Topics in Aesthetics PHIL30621 20 Optional
Language & Oppression PHIL30811 20 Optional

Course content for year 4

If completing a year professional placement, you will take the Year 3 course content in Year 4.

If completing a year abroad, you will take the Year 3 course content in Year 4.

What our students say

Read profiles of our students to find out more about studying Philosophy at Manchester.

Disability support

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