Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Philosophy

Why choose Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We were ranked 21st in the world for philosophy in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 and among the top 20 universities in the UK for philosophy by the Guardian University Guide 2017.

  • In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, we were rated the best philosophy department in Scotland and the second best in the UK.

  • Our world-leading academics have pioneered Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). The introduction to Philosophy MOOC was one of the most popular in 2015, with more than 500,000 enrolments.

  • With one of the largest philosophy departments in the world, we offer you a wide choice of subject areas to study and a diverse, supportive learning environment.

Study abroad

I find the mixture of teaching and research to be really stimulating. It’s always really rewarding to learn the theory behind something and then be able to put it into practice. Philosophy involves the analysis of other people’s ideas but you are also expected to put your own mark on it.

Abigail Alfrey 4th year MA (Hons) Philosophy
Abigail Alfrey 4th year MA (Hons) Philosophy

As the historical home of David Hume and Adam Smith, the city of Edinburgh is a fitting place to study philosophy.

The University too, has a strong historical connection to the subject, counting Adam Ferguson and Sir William Hamilton among its former students.

Studying philosophy allows you to think about some of the great philosophical questions, in a clear, disciplined and systematic manner. It introduces you to the thinking of some of the great philosophers of the past and present, and illuminates the connections between diverse areas of human experience.

It also makes you more aware of the assumptions that form the basis of your beliefs.

Year 1

You will study Greats: From Plato to the Enlightenment, Morality and Value and Logic 1. These courses introduce you to key topics in the history of philosophy, morality and ethics, and the nature of argument.

You can also choose to take Philosophy of Science 1, which looks at the basic assumptions of science.

Year 2

You will take two courses: Mind, Matter and Language and Knowledge and Reality. You can also choose to take courses in other subjects, such as sociology and politics, that cover topics related to philosophy.

Year 3

You will start to specialise. You will choose six courses from a range linked to our areas of expertise. These include: Philosophy of Time; Free Will and Moral Responsibility; Metaphysics of Mind; Themes in Epistemology; and Ancient Theories of Existence.

Year 4

You will choose another four to six courses from the wide variety available. You will also complete either an independent dissertation or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays on topics of your choice.

Are there additional costs?


Our facilities

The majority of teaching takes place at facilities located within the University's Central Area. You can use all the University libraries and computing facilities.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through the University's International Exchange Programme.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials. All option courses in Years 3 and 4 are taught through seminars.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by coursework and exams and in your honours years you will also complete an independent dissertation, or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays.

The philosophy courses you study throughout your programme provide you with the analytical and critical-thinking skills that are highly valued in the workplace.

Previous graduates have gone on to work in education, commerce, journalism, finance, law and computing.

Some graduates also choose to continue with their studies and pursue a research or academic career.