Study philosophy and graduate with a university degree

What am I? Am I a material object in the world (this body, perhaps) - or am I in fact not a material object at all? I think of myself as an agent - as one who is capable of actively and intentionally intervening in the course of events. But can I really be confident that I am an agent, and not a mere prisoner of forces over which I have no control? I also think of myself as possessing knowledge. But what is knowledge, and what can I really know - about the world around me, about others, and about myself? I think of myself as knowing about right and wrong. But how can I be confident that I know what is right and wrong, what is just and unjust, and what it would take to live a morally good life?

You have just been posed some typical philosophical questions. Questions such as these will appeal to anyone who is interested in thinking seriously and carefully about the fundamental issues of existence. If you want to search for answers to these and similar questions, then this is the degree for you.

Entrance requirements

Four-year Honours degree

SQA Higher:
ABBB - one sitting.
AABB - two sittings.

GCE A-level:

IB Diploma:
32 points.

Other qualifications


Year one entry
Scottish HNC/D - Bs in graded units
English, Welsh and NI HNC/D - Merits and Distinctions.

Advanced entry
Not available.

Access courses:
Access courses and other UK/EU and international qualifications are also welcomed.

Additional information

If examinations are taken over two sittings, or there are repeats or upgrades, the entrance requirements may be higher.

INTO University of Stirling offers an International Foundation programme for those students who do not meet the required criteria. This course offers a route to study at University of Stirling through an excellent teaching and learning experience located in the high-quality study facilities on campus. Successful completion of the International Foundation in Media, Humanities and Social Sciences to the required standard provides guaranteed progression to this degree.

English language skills

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this course, our partner INTO University of Stirling offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for entry to this degree.

Modes of study

Full-time (three modules per semester).
Part-time (one or two modules per semester).
January entry also available - see semester dates

Course contact

Law and Philosophy Divisional Office University of Stirling
+ 44 (0) 1786 467555

Find out more

Degree course

Students take Philosophy plus two other subjects in Year 1.

Semesters 1 - 3

  • Philosophy: What is it all about? An introduction to central philosophical problems concerning, for instance, knowledge, mind and body, freedom and determinism, morality and justice
  • Mind, Value and Reality. An introduction to key metaphysical and ethical issues. What is it to be a person? Are we responsible for what we do? Can we be motivated by anything other than our own self interest? These and other topics will be considered and some ethical implications explored
  • From Plato to Existentialism. A philosophical examination of the relationship between the individual and society, looking at works by Plato, Hobbes, Mill and Sartre

Semesters 4 and 5

You are required to take:

  • Either Logic or Moral Theory (or both)
  • Either Rationalism and Empiricism or Philosophy of Mind (or both)

Semesters 5 - 8

You then take optional modules, which currently include:

  • Action and Freedom
  • Aesthetics
  • A Priori Knowledge
  • Democratic Theory
  • The Distribution of Property
  • Environmental Ethics
  • Heidegger
  • John Stuart Mill
  • Knowledge and Reality
  • Marx and Marxism
  • Materialism and Idealism
  • Metaethics
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Politics, Law and Society
  • Practical Reasoning
  • Relativism and Reality
  • Scepticism and the Structure of Knowledge
  • Themes in Aristotle's Ethics
  • Wittgenstein’s Later Philosophy

In Year 4 there are opportunities for directed independent study, including dissertation projects and supervised independent study of a particular topic, theme or book.

Teaching and assessment

Teaching in Philosophy modules is mainly by seminars, which are held each week to discuss a set topic, and lectures, which are usually given twice a week. Assessment in most modules is divided between essays written during the semester and an examination at the end of the semester. There are many opportunities for one-to-one discussions with tutors.

Combined degrees

Philosophy can be studied with:
CourseUCAS Code
Computing Science GV45
Criminology MV95
English Studies QV35
Film & Media VP53
French RV15
History VV15
Politics LV25
Politics and Economics L0V0
Professional Education/Religion VX53
Psychology CV85
Religion VV56

(For a Combined Honours degree the higher entrance requirements of the subjects usually apply.)

Related degrees

Study abroad

You are eligible to participate in the University’s US Exchange Programme and in an exchange with the University of Copenhagen.


Philosophy was ranked 2nd in Scotland and sixth equal in the UK in the most recent Research Assessment Exercise (RAE).  Teaching provision in Philosophy has been assessed, and rated highly, by the Scottish Funding Council. 

Philosophy also ranked 100% in the 2014 National Student Survey(joint top in the UK).

If you enrol for Philosophy courses at Stirling you will be taught by academics in a department which is highly rated in research terms and strongly committed to making philosophical ideas accessible. We are especially noted for our strengths in metaphysics, moral and political philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, philosophy of language, and the theory of knowledge.

94% of our students are in employment or further study within six months of graduating (Destination of Leavers from Higher Education, 2012/13).

Career opportunities

Philosophy is a highly regarded subject developing useful transferable skills and opening up a wide range of career paths. Equipped with an Honours degree in Philosophy a graduate can bring to subsequent employment a sharp and analytical mind that can be applied directly to the job itself, or to any further specialist training required. Stirling Philosophy students in recent years have gone on to careers in the civil service, business, law, the social services, environmental management and the media.

Skills you can develop through this course

  • knowledge and understanding of a range of philosophical topics and associated literatures mainly from European and English-speaking traditions; 
  • an ability to engage critically with philosophical views and arguments; 
  • an ability to express yourself on philosophical matters in a clear and well-organized way. 

In gaining this understanding, Philosophy students develop a wide range of abilities that are highly valued by employers, especially by those looking for staff capable of clear, rigorous thinking. These abilities include:

  • the capacity to identify both the different elements of a view under discussion—the key concepts and claims—and the arguments used in support of the view (and their key concepts and claims); 
  • the ability to identify clear faults in reasoning (e.g., inconsistencies, non sequiturs); 
  • the ability to make sense of difficult and complex writing; 
  • the ability to write about a complex topic in a clear and well-organized way; 
  • the ability to develop and defend your own arguments and ideas both in writing and spoken discussion. 

Each of the abilities listed above involves a capacity to think creatively, self-critically and independently.  These intellectual skills are integral to the study of philosophy.  In addition, Philosophy is taught in an environment in which you will:

  • become acquainted with basic intellectual virtues such as respect for evidence and argument, preparedness to be self-critical, fairness in assessing the positions of those with differing views 
  • gain experience in, for example, speaking in group discussion, responding on the spot to questions raised, giving presentations before a group, coping with the pressures of group discussion, working to deadlines, planning work ahead of time, and working autonomously. 

Chances to expand your horizons

Workshops focused on careers for Philosophy students are run by the Student Philosophy Society and discipline-specific advice and events are organised by the Career Development Service.  In addition, a biennial student conference, often held in the Highlands, allows students to present their work in a semi-formal ‘presentation’ setting in front of their peers. 

Where are our graduates now?

Philosophy graduates are currently contributing to the performance of the following organisations:

  • Scottish Enterprise
  • BAE Systems
  • Wincanton
  • Deveaux, Australia
  • University of Sheffield
  • HM Government
  • Justice Publishing
  • Scottish Equitable

 To provide you with an indication as to what you can do with your Philosophy degree, graduates entering into employment in the past two years are currently working as: 

  • Services Delivery Analyst
  • Philosophy Teacher
  • Commissioning Engineer

Building on that foundation, alumni of Stirling’s Philosophy degree who graduated between five and ten years ago have since advanced into some of the following positions:

  • Primary Teacher
  • Programmer
  • Account manager

Some of our more established alumni are currently leading and shaping strategy across many different sectors – here is an example of how a few former Philosophy students have advanced in their careers:

  • Solicitor in private practice
  • Lecturer
  • Director 
  • Police Inspector
  • Senior Programmer
  • Civil servant
  • International Sales Manager
  • Pensions manager

Fees 2016/7

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,555.00
Scottish and EU students TBC
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Fees 2015/6

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 11,275.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £6,750 per year for a maximum of 4 years


Please note: Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish government.

Please note: Students from the rest of the UK can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

  • Degree award BA (Hons)
  • UCAS Code V500
  • Type Campus based, Full-time
  • Start date September / January
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