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Kent’s new Global Philosophies degree provides an exciting, innovative opportunity to engage with intellectual thought from around the world. The programme offers a global approach to philosophical study with modules drawing not only on European or Western thought but also traditions originating in Asia, Africa and the Middle East, from antiquity to the present day.
You gain a systematic historical and cross-cultural understanding of a wide-range of philosophical traditions as well as modules exploring how various philosophies, ideas and forms of life have ‘gone global,’ both historically (through processes like empire, migration and cultural exchange) and in the contemporary era through the impact of mass media and globalisation.
Global Philosophies is offered by the Department of Religious Studies, within Kent’s School of European Culture and Languages. Staff in the department have a range of interests in the field, including expertise in various world religions, the history of ideas, Asian studies and different traditions of philosophical thought, providing research-informed teaching on the various strands of world intellectual thought.
The programme is taught at our Canterbury campus, with strong transport links to mainland Europe.
Our degree programme
Global Philosophies at Kent is a varied programme covering world philosophical traditions, encouraging cultural and historical understanding and awareness of ancient and contemporary phases of globalisation.
In your first year, you take two core modules, The Global Search for Meaning and Ethics, Society and the Good Life. You also take introductory modules in either South Asian (Hindu and Buddhist) or East Asian (Confucian, Daoist, Shinto) traditions. In your second year, you take a further compulsory module, Understanding Global Philosophies, exploring methodological issues in cross-cultural study.
You also have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of modules offered within the School of European Cultures and Languages and the Faculty of Humanities in areas related to philosophy, classics and history. You will be introduced to a wide range of authors, literary texts and philosophical traditions from different time periods and cultural contexts.
At all stages of your degree it is possible to choose ‘wild’ modules from across the Faculty of Humanities. You can also apply to take a placement module, where you can gain teaching experience in a secondary school. The placement modules are subject to a selection process.
If you are studying full time, you can apply to spend a year abroad as part of your degree programme. Studying abroad is a great opportunity to discover a new culture and demonstrates to future employers that you have the enthusiasm to succeed in a new environment. It is possible to spend a year or a term abroad at one of our partner institutions. You don't have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply. It is also possible to undertake a placement year in industry.
See Course structure for more details.
It is possible to spend a year on placement gaining valuable workplace experience and increasing your professional contacts. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent, but certain conditions apply.
See Course structure for more details.
Religious Studies at Kent scored 90.3 out of 100 in The Complete University Guide 2019.
In The Guardian University Guide 2019, over 86% of final-year Religious Studies students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course.
Teaching Excellence Framework
All University of Kent courses are regulated by the Office for Students.
Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.
Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.
The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation. On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.
You take all compulsory modules and either TH331 or TH348. You then choose 45 credits of optional modules and an additional 30 credits of optional and ‘elective’ modules.
|Compulsory modules currently include||Credits|
TH349 - Ethics, Society and the Good Life
This module provides a cross-cultural introduction and exploration of philosophical, religious and cultural traditions which have shaped and informed historical and contemporary ethical judgements and notions of the good life. From ancient Asian, Greek, Jewish, Christian and Islamic philosophies inspired by thinkers such as the Buddha, Plato, Jesus and Mohammed, to modern secular philosophies such as humanism and Marxism, humans have articulated a variety of approaches to ethics, politics, spirituality, and the relationship of the individual to society, in many cases developing legal frameworks for the regulation of issues of ethical concern in areas such as human rights, wealth distribution, medical ethics, the environment and human sexuality.View full module details
TH350 - The Global Search for Meaning
This module provides a thematic introduction to selected topics and debates that span global philosophical, religious and cultural traditions. It will explore issues such as the nature of reality, of the self, and of goodness or value, the foundations of ethics and the ideal society, and the goals of life in a variety of worldviews. Cross-referencing cultural traditions with broader theoretical and philosophical debates, it seeks to provide a foundation for understanding key concepts and themes found within the world's traditions of philosophy and religion, and exploring their implications for fundamental debates about truth, society, psychology and the good life.View full module details
|Optional modules may include||Credits|
TH348 - Introduction to East Asian Traditions
This module provides an historical introduction to the philosophical, religious and cultural traditions of East Asia. It will provide a foundation for understanding the historical development, key concepts and important practices of the major worldviews of East Asia with specific reference to traditions such as Buddhism, Confucianism, Daoism, Shinto and other animist traditions.View full module details
TH331 - Introduction to Hinduism & Buddhism
The purpose of this module is to introduce students to the Hindu and Buddhist traditions, through a consideration of their key concepts, ideas, texts and practices (such as bhakti, moksha, yoga, dharma). The first half of the module will examine some of the most interesting features of the Vedic and post-Vedic tradition: the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the polytheism of the Mahabharata. The second half will examine the contrasting philosophical positions of the Theravada and Mahayana Buddhist traditions using materials from the Pali canon and several Sanskrit Sutras. Particular attention will be given to the variety of interpretations of the Buddhist 'No-self' doctrine and concept of enlightenment as well as the meaning and function of the Buddha’s career.View full module details
TH340 - Introduction to Judaism and Islam
This course investigates the beliefs and practices of Jews and Muslims in the world today. Topics in Judaism include the life and work of the Patriarchs, the concept of the 'chosen people', the Promised Land, the Torah, synagogue, Jewish festivals and the Jewish home. In the case of Islam, topics include the life and work of Muhammad, the Five Pillars, the Qur'an and Hadith, Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims, Sufism, the Shariah and the Islamic contribution to the arts and sciences.View full module details
TH341 - What is Religion?
This module will introduce students to discussions about the definition of religion and to some of the disciplines in which religion is studied, with special reference to the differences between Theology and Religious Studies. Particular consideration will be given in the initial weeks to the phenomenological approach and to the efficacy of Ninian Smart's dimensions of religion. In the following weeks, the module will be focused on the comparative study of religion (with reference to Eliade), the sociology of religion (with reference to Durkheim, Weber and Marx) and the psychology of religion (with reference to Otto, James, Freud and Jung). The module will also host a study skills session to be run in conjunction with the Student Learning Advisory Service, the aim of which is to equip students with key study skills in the areas of writing essays, referencing and plagiarism-prevention.View full module details
CL366 - Classical Mythology: Themes and Approaches to Ancient Greek
This module provides a general introduction to myth in the ancient world. Scholarship on approaches to mythology will inform the analysis of myth in its ancient setting. The curriculum will be designed to introduce students to a working repertoire of a large span of ancient (e.g. Greek) mythology and to its meanings and functions within its original context. A selection of case-study myths (represented in literature and/or iconography) will be used to examine the potential meanings and social functions of myth in general.View full module details
CL368 - Introduction to Greek Civilisation
The history will centre on Athens in the 5th century B.C. We begin with early Athens, then after considering the period of the Persian invasions, we study the developed democracy with its empire under Pericles and its destruction in the Peloponnesian War. After looking at the historical events of this period, we study a range of Greek literature. You will be introduced to the different literary genres of the time, including tragedy and comedy, and will be asked to consider the role of literature as a vehicle for public debate in the democracy, and its treatment of justice, religion, rationalism and patriotic themes.View full module details
CL369 - Introduction to Roman Civilisation
In this module, we shall begin by examining the history of the last century of the Roman republic. Our focus will be on how that republic fell and was replaced by the empire whose founder was Augustus. Among the themes examined will be political violence, the intrusion of the army into political life and the rise of the warlord. The second half of the module is concerned with the patronage of the arts (poetry, history writing, art and architecture) under Augustus, with the role of the arts as propaganda, and the thesis that writers were recruited to act as spokesmen for the policies and ideals of the principate. The central theme is the creation of enduring images of Rome and Empire, using traditional historical and mythological materials; alongside this, the module treats areas of public policy such as moral legislation, festivals, religious reform and the position of women. The module is also concerned with the responses of the writers, whether as supporters of public policy, or as commenting on and reacting against it. Thus, its content is much better understood as a result of the historical development outlined in the first part of term.View full module details
CL370 - Mediterranean Empires from Carthage and Rome to the Indus
This module introduces the main events and sources of evidence for the history of the Mediterranean between the rise of Macedon and the destruction of Carthage. As such, the lectures, seminars, and readings are based around the history, archaeology, and literature of five ancient societies that met, and fought, during this period: Carthage, Rome, Hellenistic Greece, Egypt, and the Seleucid Empire.
The lectures are thematic, following a loosely chronological framework. For example, they may take as their starting point the accession of Philip II to the Macedonian throne. This may form the basis for broader discussion of the transfer of cultural ideas across the Macedonian empire, for example the Greco-Buddhist art of the Hellenistic Far East. Subsequently, the survey of Mediterranean empires given in the lectures continues by introducing further ancient societies through the lens of thematic topics.
The seminars focus on training in the use and interpretation of ancient literary and material evidence. These may include written evidence, inscriptions and papyri, and art and architecture. Where appropriate, discussion of these sources in the seminars will be used to introduce major debates in the study of the ancient Mediterranean.View full module details
CP325 - World Literature:An Introduction
This module introduces students to some of the most influential theories of World Literature, which are studied alongside a selection of literary examples. The theories include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reflections formulated in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Goethe coined the term 'world literature' [Weltliteratur] to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe.
In the course of the module, we reflect on the relationship between national literatures and world literature, and on the ways in which the literary market facilitates and complicates transnational exchanges of ideas. In addition, students are given the opportunity to hone their close reading skills by studying a selection of ancient and modern world creation myths. These include texts from the Near East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. The module offers students the unique opportunity to analyse in detail different ways in which cultural backgrounds can shape literary productions, and how stories, motifs and themes travel across national boundaries. In the course of the module, we discuss key literary terms and concepts, including fictionality, literariness, translation, the canon, and the various modes of reception and circulation that shape our understanding of world literature.View full module details
HI435 - A Global History of Empires: 1500-1850
This course explores the history of empires on a global scale. It challenges students to grasp the history of empires by examining their structures, instruments and consequences. The course will cover the history of empire from the sixteenth to the middle of the nineteenth century. Themes will include the expansion of European empires (Spanish, Portuguese, British, French, Dutch and Belgian) in the Americas, Asia, the global rivalry for empires among European nations in the eighteenth century, the commercial expansion of the East India Companies in the Indian Ocean,, the expansion British colonies in India, slavery and the Abolition movement and the Revolt of 1857. It will provide students with a critical historical knowledge of imperialism and globalisation.View full module details
HI436 - A Global History of Empires: 1850-1960
This course explores the history of empires on a global scale. It challenges students to grasp the history of empires by examining their structures, instruments and consequences. The course will cover the expansion of European empires from the end of the nineteenth to the middle of the twentieth century, in the age of decolonization. Topics include the conquest of Africa in the age of the so-called 'New Imperialism', the French and British Civilizing missions in Africa and Asia, the emergence of modern ideas of race, immigration, freedom struggles in Asia and Africa, and postcolonial cultural and political developments across the world. It will provide students with a critical historical knowledge of imperialism and globalisation and enable them to form a deep understanding of the postcolonial world.View full module details
PL302 - Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Metaphysics
This module begins with a critical examination of Rene Descartes' justly celebrated Meditations on First Philosophy (published, originally, in 1641). This work not only provides a comprehensive account of Descartes' philosophical system, but also constitutes an admirable introduction to The Theory of Knowledge and to Metaphysics. Thus, Descartes' fundamentally Rationalist account of our knowledge of the external world is duly contrasted with the Empiricist accounts offered by such Twentieth Century Philosophers as Bertrand Russell and A.J.Ayer; while Descartes' Dualism is compared with the other major metaphysical doctrines, namely, Idealism, Phenomenalism and contemporary Physicalism. The module concludes with a survey of what is, perhaps, the most perplexing of metaphysical problems, namely, The Problem of Freewill and Determinism.View full module details
PL303 - Introduction to Philosophy: Ethics
This module will introduce students to a number of big questions in ethics. The questions may include the following: What makes a life good? Is it happiness? Or is it something else? Another big question is: What makes actions right or wrong? Is it God demanding or forbidding them? Or are actions perhaps right to the extent that they serve to make lives better off, and wrong to the extent that they make lives worse off? Some philosophers have thought so. Others wonder: What if I steal money from someone so rich that my act in no way makes their life go any worse. Might it still be the case that I have acted wrongly—even if I haven't made anyone worse off? A third bit question is this: What’s the status of morality? Is it, for example, the case that what’s right for me might be wrong for you? Does it make any sense at all to talk about moral claims being true or false, even relative to moral communities? Might moral judgments be nothing but expressions of sentiments? Throughout the course, students will be examining these and similar questions from the point of view of a variety of philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume.View full module details
PL305 - Existentialism
This module provides an introduction to some of the main themes and ideas in the existentialist tradition. Texts studied will include works of philosophy and literature, for it is characteristic of this philosophical tradition to cross that divide. Students will study extracts from primary texts, usually including some of the following works: The Myth of Sisyphus (Camus), Being and Nothingness (Sartre), The Mystery of Being (Marcel), Philosophy of Existence (Jaspers), Being and Time (Heidegger), History and Truth (Ricoeur) and Thus Spoke Zarathustra (Nietzsche). The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. Main themes to be studied will include: concepts of freedom, authenticity, the nature of the self, the "death of God".View full module details
PL310 - Introduction to Philosophy: Logic and Reasoning
Since Plato's Dialogues, it has been part of philosophical enquiry to consider philosophical questions using logic and common sense alone. This module aims to train students to continue in that tradition. In the first part students will be introduced to basic themes in introductory formal logic and critical thinking. In the second part students will be presented with a problem each week in the form of a short argument, question, or philosophical puzzle and will be asked to think about it without consulting the literature. The problem, and students’ responses to it, will then form the basis of a structured discussion. By the end of the module, students (a) will have acquired a basic logical vocabulary and techniques for the evaluation of arguments; (b) will have practised applying these techniques to short passages of philosophical argument; and (c) will have acquired the ability to look at new claims or problems and to apply their newly acquired argumentative and critical skills in order to generate philosophical discussions of them.View full module details
You take compulsory module Global Philosophies and then choose 60 credits from a list of optional modules, and an additional 30 credits from optional and ‘elective’ modules.
Year in industry
You have the opportunity to undertake a placement year, either at home or abroad, between the second and final year of your degree and to receive credits and a dedicated award for this achievement.
The placement year enables you to gain work experience in a professional environment, and to develop employment-related skills and qualities such as independent thought, personal responsibility and decision-making.
The placement can be either paid work or an internship. Tuition fees for the placement year are greatly reduced, and employers may offer expenses or a salary. The year is assessed on a pass/fail basis through employer feedback and a written report that you submit.
See the Faculty of Humanities website for more details.
You can apply to add a Year Abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year. The Year Abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. For a full list, please see Go Abroad.
Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.
You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad. The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.
You take at least 90 credits from a list of Global Philosophies modules (to be confirmed) and an additional 30 credits from optional and 'elective’ modules.You have the opportunity to select elective modules in this stage
Teaching and assessment
You are usually taught in small groups, with most modules involving either two or three hours per week in class, plus individual consultations with teachers as well as sessions on computing and library skills.
Stage 1 modules are normally assessed by 100% coursework. At Stages 2 and 3, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework (such as essays), others by a combination of formal examination and coursework.
For a student studying full time, each academic year of the programme will comprise 1200 learning hours which include both direct contact hours and private study hours. The precise breakdown of hours will be subject dependent and will vary according to modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
Methods of assessment will vary according to subject specialism and individual modules. Please refer to the individual module details under Course Structure.
The programme aims to:
- promote the study of intellectual thought from across the globe ranging from classical Asia (India, China, Japan), Africa, the Middle East and Europe (such as Greek, Roman) to modern analytic and European continental philosophy
- enable students to develop a systematic historical and cross-cultural understanding of a wide range of different philosophical traditions and the ways in which they have developed and, in some cases interacted;
- develop students’ abilities to evaluate critically the mechanisms involved in the international circulation and reception of ideas;
- encourage students to identify and develop their own interests and expertise within the field of global philosophies;
- encourage students to engage critically and systematically with cross-cultural approaches to the study of philosophical ideas;
- develop students’ understanding and critical appreciation of questions pertaining to translation;
- encourage an awareness of the cultural conditions and historical context in which diverse systems of intellectual thought develop;
- encourage an awareness of the impact of globalisation on different worldviews and traditions of thought;
- develop students’ abilities to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form;
- develop further students’ intercultural competencies;
- offer students the experience of a variety of teaching styles and approaches to the study of global philosophies;
- develop students’ independent critical thinking and judgement;
- provide a basis for the study of philosophies at a higher level;
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to undertake employment in fields requiring an appreciation of cultural diversity and different worldviews across the globe; provide students with the opportunity to develop more general skills and competences so that they can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- A wide range of thinkers and texts and intellectual traditions from different periods and cultures, from the ancient world to the present day, including texts and thinkers from Asian, African, Anglo-American, and European contexts
- The cultural, historical and social contexts in which traditions of intellectual thought occur
- The problems inherent in interpreting a translated text
- Traditions of intellectual thought
- The history of ideas, globally conceived
- The macro-historical factors (such as empire, processes of globalisation and intercultural exchange) that have facilitated the transnational circulation and transformation of ideas
- Critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
- The study of philosophical ideas and traditions in relation to other disciplines
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- Listening to and absorbing of the oral transmission of complicated data
- Careful reading of philosophical works and theoretical material
- Reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, using powers of analysis and imagination
- Marshalling a complex body of information
- Remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- Constructing cogent arguments
- Formulating independent ideas and defending them in a plausible manner
- Presenting arguments in written form in a time-limited context (examinations)
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- Enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of philosophical texts
- A critical understanding of transcultural modes of reception and circulation of ideas
- Improved intercultural competencies
- Informed critical understanding of the variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of global philosophies
- Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to the study of philosophies
- Sensitivity to the challenges of comparative and cross-cultural analysis
- Sensitivity to the problems of translation and cultural difference
- Well-developed language use and awareness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
- Articulate responsiveness to a variety of cultural and historical forms of philosophical reflection
- Appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
- Understanding of how cultural norms, assumptions and practices influence philosophical reflections
- Appreciation of the value of collaborative intellectual work in developing critical judgement
You gain transferable skills in the following areas:
- Developed powers of communication and thecapacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
- Enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation ofideas designed to stimulate critical debate
- Developed critical acumen
- The ability to assimilate and organise substantialquantities of complex information of diverse kinds
- Competence in the planning and execution ofessays and project-work
- Enhanced skills in critical analyses
- Enhanced capacity for independent thought,intellectual focus, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
- Enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work,including more finely tuned listening skills
- The ability to understand, interrogate and apply avariety of theoretical positions and weigh theimportance of alternative perspectives
- Research skills, including scholarly informationretrieval skills
- IT skills: word-processing, PowerPoint, email communication,the ability to access electronic data
Help finding a job
The School of European Culture and Languages runs its own employability programme to help you develop your professional skills. This includes paid and voluntary work opportunities.
The University also has an award-winning Careers and Employability Service, which can give you advice on how to:
- apply for jobs
- write a good CV
- perform well in interviews.
As well as an excellent grounding in your subject, you also develop the key transferable skills that graduate employers look for. These include:
- excellent communication skills
- organisational and research skills
- the ability to analyse problems
You can also gain additional skills by signing up for our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a new language or volunteering.
If you choose to take the year abroad option, you further increase your skills by gaining experience of living and studying in a different culture.
Those who decide to take a placement year gain valuable workplace experience, which will impress prospective employers.
The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice.
It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.
New GCSE grades
If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.
|Qualification||Typical offer/minimum requirement|
|Access to HE Diploma||
The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis.
If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.
|BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)||
The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.
34 points overall or 15 points at HL
The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.
However, please note that international fee-paying students cannot undertake a part-time programme due to visa restrictions.
If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.
Meet our staff in your country
For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.
English Language Requirements
Please see our English language entry requirements web page.
Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme.
General entry requirements
Please also see our general entry requirements.
The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:
For details of when and how to pay fees and charges, please see our Student Finance Guide.
For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.*
Your fee status
The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.
Fees for Year in Industry
For 2019/20 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385.
Fees for Year Abroad
UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2019/20 academic year pay £1,385 for that year.
Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status.
General additional costs
Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details.
You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.
Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.
The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence
At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence.
The scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages.
The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either mathematics or a modern foreign language. Please review the eligibility criteria.