Philosophy

Why study philosophy at Edinburgh?

Philosophy has been taught at the university since its foundation in 1583 and offers a stimulating and flexible learning experience

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  • Edinburgh has a distinguished place in the history of philosophy, having been home to David Hume and Adam Smith.
  • We're ranked 6th in the UK and 19th in the world for philosophy (QS World University Rankings by subject 2022).

We have a large department so can offer many option courses in all the main areas of philosophy.

At undergraduate level, teaching is mostly conducted in lectures and small group meetings called tutorials during your first two years. Tutorials typically comprise around 10 students and provide you with an opportunity to discuss topics in greater detail. Lectures can comprise up to 200 students. You will typically have around four or five contact hours per week in psychology courses. In years 3 and 4 the emphasis shifts to more specialised, seminar based courses and independent study. In years 3 and 4 you will have more than 40 different courses available to choose from. Our world leading academics are especially strong in philosophy of mind and cognition, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of science and the history of philosophy.

We offer innovative and acclaimed teaching which always has an emphasis on encouraging student engagement and discussion. We have repeatedly fostered new initiatives in creative teaching including guided tours, on-site lectures, mini-conference and film showings. We also welcome academic staff from institutions across the world during term-time for a variety of events, talks and conferences. This allows our students to connect with world leading contemporary philosophers and get involved in discussions and debates.

With a cohort of around 550 students currently studying philosophy and about 40 academic members of staff, our department is one of the largest in the UK creating a vibrant, diverse, intellectual and welcoming community.

Find out more about the student experience