If you want to understand the world we live in, you have to be able to understand the great religious traditions and philosophical questions that shape it. Our degree in Philosophy, Ethics and Religion is a rigorous programme that offers an in-depth understanding of Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism and Christianity. At the same time, it exposes you to the big questions of philosophy: what is good? What are the ideals or principles by which we can lead a meaningful life, individually and politically? What defines a human person? What can we rationally say about the existence and nature of God?
The study of religion is grounded in an understanding of religions as they are lived and practised: field trips and research in real communities sit alongside the interpretation of texts, symbols and ideas. In philosophy, you will be reading the great texts of western thought for yourself, but also developing your own ability to think critically and put forward reasoned arguments.
Your studies will be led by internationally renowned lecturers who bring their own research to bear on their teaching. Our staff have special expertise in the study of Islam in Britain, Sri Lankan Buddhism and contemporary philosophy of religion, for example. They will guide and inspire you to clarify the questions you want to ask, and to explore the worldviews of others as you work out your own.
Teaching on this degree is structured into lectures, where all students are taught together, seminars of smaller groups of around 15-20 students, and tutorials which typically have no more than 10 students. Lectures will give you an overview of a specific topic, which will then be studied in more detail in your seminars. Tutorials are a more intensive forum for discussion and are primarily used to analyse key texts. You will also have the opportunity to have a one-to-one meeting with your tutor each week.
In your first year, there are approximately 12 teaching hours each week, which reduces to approximately 10 teaching hours in your second and third years. On top of teaching hours, you are also expected to spend a number of hours studying independently each week, as well as studying in groups to prepare for any group assessments you may have.
During your three years of study, you will have a number of assessments, including portfolios, essays, group presentations and written exams. In your final year you also complete a dissertation project.
You will receive your feedback via the University’s Virtual Online Learning Environment (Moodle), and you are also welcome to discuss the feedback with your tutors.
The Foundation Year is a great opportunity if you have the ability and enthusiasm to study for a degree, but do not yet have the qualifications required to enter directly onto our degree programmes. A significant part of the Foundation Year focuses upon core skills such as academic writing at HE level, becoming an independent learner, structuring academic work, critical thinking, time management and note taking.
Successful completion of the Foundation Year will enable you to progress into the first year (Level C) of your chosen honours degree. Further details can be found here.
Your first year of study builds the foundation of your philosophy and ethics knowledge. You will study normative ethics and metaethics, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics, animal ethics, and the meaning of moral statements. You also look at free will and determinism, as well as the philosophy of knowledge (epistemology) such as empiricism, rationality, transcendental idealism, and phenomenology.
Another key topic you will explore is existentialism and the meaning of life, using the works of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Sartre as a basis for discussions.
You are also introduced to the study of religion, with a focus on the religious traditions of African traditional religions, Judaism, Christianity, Islamic tradition and Hinduism.
In your second year, you build on your knowledge and study a number of new topics, including the philosophy of religion, exploring themes such as the existence of God, religious language, and the problem of evil. You also look at political philosophy, with a focus on democracy and its critics, and applied ethics topics such as capital punishment, abortion and euthanasia.
You will explore philosophical aesthetics such as beauty, taste and the significance of art, as well as continuing your studies in Islam and global Christianity and examining Buddhism in detail.
Your final year is an in-depth look at some of the key philosophical themes. You will study Descartes, Locke and Hume to explore the theories of personal identity, as well as looking at the ethical implications of bias and personhood. You will also look at contemporary debates in the philosophy of mind such as materialism, artificial intelligence, and the mind/brain relationship. Other lecture topics include the relationship between faith and reason in postmodern thought, and key thinkers in continental philosophy, including Derrida, Levinas, Kristeva, and Irigaray.
You will also engage with the broader theme of Religion, Conflict, and Reconciliation, critically evaluating key points of conflict around the world and the role that religions play in cultivating tensions and resolutions.
In your seminars, you will look at God after the death of God, and the limits of personhood in relation to human, animal and machine, as well as religion, conflict and reconciliation.
As a Philosophy, Ethics and Religion graduate, you will have developed excellent skills in critical thinking, textual analysis and report writing, and have high-level oral communication skills. You will have an in-depth knowledge of one or more living religious traditions other than Christianity, an understanding of the role of religion in human societies today, and an ability to empathise with and understand different points of view.
This prepares you for a range of careers including law, media, public administration, social and community work. Many graduates enter the teaching profession and you will be well positioned to pursue postgraduate study in philosophy and related humanity subjects. A background in Philosophy, Ethics and Religion is excellent preparation for teaching philosophy and/or religious studies at A Level. More broadly, it equips you with the intellectual skills and perspectives needed for facing the ethical and ideological challenges of the contemporary world.
The Service and Leadership Award (SALA) is offered as an extra-curricular programme involving service-based experiences, development of leadership potential and equipping you for a career in a rapidly changing world. It enhances your degree, it is something which is complimentary but different and which has a distinct ‘value-added’ component. Find out more on our Service and Leadership Award page.
As part of your degree, you can choose to spend either a semester or a full year of study at one of our partner universities as part of our Study Abroad programme. Find out more on our Study Abroad page.
The tuition fees for the 2020/21 academic year are £9,250 for full-time undergraduate courses.
If you are a student from the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands, your tuition fees will also be £9,250.
The University reserves the right to increase Home and EU Undergraduate and PGCE tuition fees in line with any inflationary or other increase authorised by the Secretary of State for future years of study.
On top of tuition fees, you will need to purchase core textbooks at a cost of approximately £100. There are also fieldwork costs of approximately £50.
You will also need to consider the cost of your accommodation each year whilst you study at university. Visit our accommodation pages for further details about our Halls of Residence.
We have a range of scholarships to help with the cost of your studies. Visit our scholarships page to find out more.
The International tuition fees for the 2020/21 academic year are £11,400 (provisional) per year for full-time undergraduate courses.
Visit our International fees page for more information.
With Foundation year, this degree is only available to study as a Single Honours course.