Undergraduate study - 2019 entry

Subject area: Philosophy

Why choose Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh?

  • Following the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 we were ranked 7th in the UK for philosophy in the Times Higher Education ranking by subject.

  • You will have a choice of more than 40 option courses in Years 3 and 4 in all the main branches of philosophy. 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.

  • Staff and students work with the University’s Philosophy Society, which regularly hosts lectures, seminars, study support sessions, quizzes, film showings and guest speakers - giving you fun, stimulating and valuable opportunities to engage in debate and discussion.

  • Philosophy has been taught at the university since its foundation in 1583. Edinburgh was the centre of the Scottish Enlightenment and has a distinguished place in the history of philosophy, having been home to David Hume, who in turn influenced Charles Darwin and Albert Einstein, and Adam Smith.

  • There is a wide range of joint programmes available. As philosophy gives you training in the highly transferable skills of reasoning and self-expression it will benefit and enhance your study of both subjects.

  • We have world-leading researchers in linguistics and psychology, complementing our strengths in philosophy of mind, cognition and language. We offer you 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-conferences, and film showings.

Study abroad

I chose philosophy to engage with the texts that shaped Western scientific inquiry and to develop analytical rigour and deconstruct the arguments I encounter in everyday life.

Meyra Çoban 2nd year MA (Hons) Philosophy & Politics
Meyra Çoban 2nd year MA (Hons) Philosophy & Politics

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 option courses in a wide range of subjects.

Year 3

You will start to specialise. You will normally choose six courses from a range linked to the major areas of the subject.

Year 4

You will choose further courses from a range linked to the major areas of the subject.

You will also complete either an independent dissertation, consisting of a single extended essay on a topic of your choice, or a coursework dissertation via two extended essays on topics linked to your choice of courses.

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 Erasmus programme or the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials.

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.