BA (Hons)


"How should I live?"

" I think that I am in control of what I do. But why do I do the things I do? Presumably, I do them because of things to do with my upbringing, my circumstances, and my biological make-up. But these are things over which I have no control. If they determine what I do, how can I have any control over what I do?"


"What can I know?"

"I see something, and say that it looks 'red'. You see something and also say that it looks 'red'. But how do I know that the way it looks to me is the same way it looks to you?"


"What am I?"

"I look in the mirror, and I see someone in it. But what exactly have I got to do with him? How can I be a person in the world at all?"


These are just a few examples of the kind of questions that philosophers ask. It is possible that you have asked some or all of them yourself, at some point in your life. They are amongst the most puzzling, most captivating, and most fundamental questions that there are. Philosophy is the activity of thinking seriously, creatively, and very carefully about these and similar questions. Engaging in this activity is not only fascinating in itself, but also an excellent way to sharpen and improve your mind.

Key information

EU Applicants
The Scottish Government has confirmed that EU students enrolling in the 2018 and 2019 academic year will be entitled to free tuition fees in Scotland. EU Students will retain that status for the duration of their four year degree.

  • UCAS: V500
  • Qualification: BA (Hons)
  • Study methods: Campus based, Full-time
  • Start date: September / January
  • Faculty: Faculty of Arts and Humanities
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Law and Philosophy Divisional Office

University of Stirling

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

Three-year Honours degree

SQA Adv. Higher:

GCE A-Level:

IB Diploma:

BTEC (Level 3):

Essential subjects:
To include Philosophy

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.

Foundation Apprenticeships:

Considered to be equivalent to 1 Higher at Grade B

Additional information

General entrance requirements apply

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 international students who do not meet the required academic and English-language 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 requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

More information on our English language requirements

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.

Fees and costs

Fees 2018/19

Overseas students (non-EU) £ 12,140.00
Scottish and EU students £ 1,820.00
Students from the rest of the UK £9250 – with a generous package of scholarship options

From 2016/7 onwards, the fees for overseas undergraduates will be held at the level upon entry.

If you plan to commence your studies at the University of Stirling in January 2018, please note you will be subject to our 2017/18 fees. Please contact us for more information.

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. 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.

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Please note there is an additional charge should you choose to attend a graduation ceremony. View more information

Cost of Living

Find out about the cost of living for students at Stirling

Payment options

Find information on paying fees by instalments

Structure and teaching

Structure and content

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? 
  • 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
  • Perception
  • 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.

Delivery 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.)

Learn more about studying these subjects

Related degrees

Politics, Philosophy and Economics: PPE.

Modes of study

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

Find out more

Why Stirling?



The 2016 National Student Survey ranked Philosophy at Stirling as one of the best philosophy programmes in the UK for student satisfaction, with a grade considerably above the average satisfaction rating of 89%. 

If you enrol for Philosophy courses at Stirling you will be taught by academics in a discipline 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.

International Students

The University of Stirling welcomes applications from all countries.

Study abroad opportunities

You are eligible to participate in the University’s Exchange Programme, with more than 25 countries around the world, and in an Erasmus exchange with the University of Copenhagen.

Our students

"The most enjoyable aspect of the programme for me was writing essays where I was asked to explain my own thoughts on the matter. It was the first time in my entire school life I was supposed to give importance to my own ideas on the topics discussed, and not just to someone else’s ideas. This aspect, along with the fact that there were seminars to learn to develop those ideas and debate with others, made the whole experience incredibly challenging, but also enjoyable."

Matilde Liberti, BA (Hons) Philosophy, Graduated 2017

Careers and employability

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
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