Philosophy

Philosophy with an Approved Year Abroad - BA (Hons)

UCAS code V501

2019

What is philosophy? Why is it important? Is it relevant? As a student of Philosophy at Kent, you do not so much learn about philosophy as learn to do it yourself. This includes not only studying major philosophies and philosophers, but also contributing your own ideas to an ongoing dialogue. You develop the ability to connect the most abstract ideas to the most concrete things in our experience.

Overview

There is an active research culture in the Department of Philosophy at Kent, with internationally recognised experts whose interests range from philosophers such as Hegel, Kant and Wittgenstein to topics such as the philosophy of the mind, ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, metaphysics and artificial intelligence.

On this programme you spend an additional year between Stages 2 and 3 studying in France at the Sorbonne in Paris. You take additional French language modules in Stages 1 and 2 to increase your linguistic skills and enable you to engage more fully with the language and culture of France.

Independent rankings

Philosophy at Kent was ranked 14th for teaching quality and 19th overall in The Times Good University Guide 2018.

In the National Student Survey 2017, over 94% of final-year Philosophy students were satisfied with the overall quality of their course. Philosophy at Kent was ranked 12th for overall satisfaction.

Teaching Excellence Framework

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.

TEF Gold logo

Course structure

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.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

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.

Read more
15

What do philosophers do? How do they think? What do they typically think about? How do philosophers write? What sorts of writing are acceptable in philosophy? How should you write? How should philosophy best be read in order to be understood and assessed?'

In this module we will introduce you to some of the most interesting questions in philosophy, both from its history and from current debates. As we do this we will show you how to think, read and write as a philosopher.

Read more
15

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.

Read more
15

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".

Read more
15

This module provides an introduction to some of the key issues in the philosophy of law. All of the ideas discussed are linked by focusing on the notion of 'right'. Students will be exposed to a variety of questions and issues, such as: ‘What is a right?’, ‘Are there such things as natural rights?’, ‘Is there any absolute right?’, ‘What is involved in saying that one has a right to free speech or a right to private property?’, ‘Who has a right and why?’, ’Do future people have rights?’, ‘Do we have a right against social deprivation?’ and ‘Do children have a right to be loved?’.

Read more
15

This module is for Post-A-level students and students who have mastered level A2 but not yet B1 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). On successfully completing the module students will have mastered level B1. The emphasis in this course is on furthering knowledge of the structure of the language as well as vocabulary and cultural insights while further developing the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

Read more
30

This is an intensive module for absolute beginners, Post-GCSE students and students who have not yet mastered level A2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). On successfully completing the module students will have mastered level A2. The emphasis in this course is on acquiring a sound knowledge of the structure of the language as well as basic vocabulary and cultural insights while developing the speaking, listening, reading and writing skills.

Read more
30
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

Read more
30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Should we think our duties to our compatriots are more important than our duties to people in other countries?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as Rawls Theory of Justice, Nozick's libertarianism and the feminist and communitarian criticism of political liberalism. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as equality, our obligations to those in the developing world, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular recent case studies.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical responses and commentaries. (Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of texts on a unified and important theme)

Exactly what the curriculum will be will different from year to year. The point of introducing this module, and the sister module Philosophical Text 1, is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Although not set in stone, typically this module will focus on a recently published philosophical work, and Phil Text 1 will focus on a classic text. (See section 15.)

The outline given to students will, obviously, change from year to year depending on the text studied.

For 2016-17:

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher of the 20th century. He believed that good philosophy requires awareness of the radical limitations of human existence, especially of our constant background anxiety and our mortality. He was not a nice analytic philosopher writing abstract texts on relatively innocent technical topics, but a clever and nasty man, who struggled with his inner demons and succumbed to the temptations of his dark age (which is also our age). In these lectures I will discuss the views that Heidegger developed on art and poetry in the 1930s, for example in his essay on the Origin of the Work of Art and his essay "Why Poets?". His views on art and poetry were not simply contributions to 'aesthetics', 'art history' or 'literature theory', but attempts to show the immense importance of art and poetry to philosophy itself. Unlike most people, he did not consider art and poetry to be 'cultural products', but defining features of the human predicament in the world. He claimed that poetry is the essence of language, language is the house of Being, and Being is the happening of truth. Do you want to know what all this means? Come to the dark side.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as "normative ethics". We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone's feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as 'Do not lie') which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this 'ethical mess’ that we can discern.

Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

Read more
30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a 'single-issue' ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module explores some key debates in contemporary feminist philosophy, with particularly emphasis on its uncomfortable relationship with liberalism. The course draws attention to feminist critiques of key liberal concepts, such as consent, the social contract, autonomy, universal rights, and the private/public distinction. We go on to apply theoretical debates in feminist thought to the following political issues: prostitution, pornography, feminine appearance, multiculturalism, and human rights.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Topics which may be covered include Authoritarianism, Behavioural economics, Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, Libertarianism and Paternalism, Markets and Trade, Private Property and the Legitimacy of Organ Sale.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

Read more
30

The module will enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy, and to acquire familiarity with major themes especially in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The module will give students practice in deploying their critical philosophical skills.

Read more
30

Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.

Read more
30

The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

Read more
30

Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

Read more
30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Read more
30

How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

Read more
30

The course will begin by looking at various philosophical problems, as presented in films. This will involve discussing a range of different philosophical topics, from different areas of philosophy. Film here is presented as a way into the philosophical discussion, which will be supplemented by appropriate primary and secondary texts. The course will then consider ways in which the medium of film itself presents philosophical problems.

Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Philosophical issues presented through film will include, but will not be restricted to, time travel, existentialism and Philosophy of art. Philosophical Issues concerning film will include, but will not be restricted to 'is film art?', 'what is film?' and 'can film be philosophy?'.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of both a number of issues in philosophy, and the way that the medium in which philosophy is done is potentially a constraint on or a complement to the aims of the philosophy. The module will enable students to evaluate issues, both timely and timeless, in a manner that's informed by an interdisciplinary approach to philosophy.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

Emotions figure in many areas of public life, and a number of pressing political issues (from fear in the evaluation of biomedical promises, to compassion in the criminal courtroom) invite us to think about the role of emotion in shaping citizens' political thought and activity. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied conceptually, with the result that both political theory and practice are often left at a loss. Through lectures and seminar discussion, this module will offer the opportunity for students to engage in close analysis of the philosophy and cognitive science of emotion, as well as the ethical concerns that are raised by the role emotions can play in political activity and institutional practice.

This module will study prominent theories of emotion, asking about the connection between emotion, reason, and well-being. These aspects take a philosophical approach, but are also informed by advances in neurobiology and cognitive science. The module will also explore the public stage, asking how specific emotions figure in political questions: for example, fear, disgust, compassion, blame, empathy, boredom, and revenge. Political topics considered may include risky technologies, wrongful legal conviction, capital punishment, the Citizens' Income, and assisted dying. The role of emotion in media politics and protest movements will also be examined, assessing, for example, how compassion can be manufactured and mediated through political rhetoric, social media, social privilege, and popular fiction.

Read more
30
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year 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.

On this programme you spend a year between Stages 2 and 3 at Université Paris-Sorbonne. For further information, see Go Abroad. Places are subject to availability, language and degree programme.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad.  If the requirement is not met, you will be transferred to the equivalent three-year programme. The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Modules may include Credits

Spending a period as full-time student at an overseas university, students will follow teaching and tuition in their own subject areas as well as choosing from a range of available courses in the Humanities. The curriculum will vary according to the partner institutions. Additionally, students will usually be offered to take language classes and/or courses on the culture of the host country.

Read more
120

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

Emotions figure in many areas of public life, and a number of pressing political issues (from fear in the evaluation of biomedical promises, to compassion in the criminal courtroom) invite us to think about the role of emotion in shaping citizens' political thought and activity. Emotions, however, are all too rarely studied conceptually, with the result that both political theory and practice are often left at a loss. Through lectures and seminar discussion, this module will offer the opportunity for students to engage in close analysis of the philosophy and cognitive science of emotion, as well as the ethical concerns that are raised by the role emotions can play in political activity and institutional practice.

This module will study prominent theories of emotion, asking about the connection between emotion, reason, and well-being. These aspects take a philosophical approach, but are also informed by advances in neurobiology and cognitive science. The module will also explore the public stage, asking how specific emotions figure in political questions: for example, fear, disgust, compassion, blame, empathy, boredom, and revenge. Political topics considered may include risky technologies, wrongful legal conviction, capital punishment, the Citizens' Income, and assisted dying. The role of emotion in media politics and protest movements will also be examined, assessing, for example, how compassion can be manufactured and mediated through political rhetoric, social media, social privilege, and popular fiction.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

The course will begin by looking at various philosophical problems, as presented in films. This will involve discussing a range of different philosophical topics, from different areas of philosophy. Film here is presented as a way into the philosophical discussion, which will be supplemented by appropriate primary and secondary texts. The course will then consider ways in which the medium of film itself presents philosophical problems.

Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Philosophical issues presented through film will include, but will not be restricted to, time travel, existentialism and Philosophy of art. Philosophical Issues concerning film will include, but will not be restricted to 'is film art?', 'what is film?' and 'can film be philosophy?'.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of both a number of issues in philosophy, and the way that the medium in which philosophy is done is potentially a constraint on or a complement to the aims of the philosophy. The module will enable students to evaluate issues, both timely and timeless, in a manner that's informed by an interdisciplinary approach to philosophy.

Read more
30

How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

Read more
30

The module will enable students to acquire knowledge and understanding of Wittgenstein's approach to philosophy, and to acquire familiarity with major themes especially in the areas of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language. The module will give students practice in deploying their critical philosophical skills.

Read more
30

Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally do not have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? In this module we shall try to find some answers to the questions listed above.

Read more
30

Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

Read more
30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Read more
30

This module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Topics which may be covered include Authoritarianism, Behavioural economics, Rational Choice Theory, Game Theory, Libertarianism and Paternalism, Markets and Trade, Private Property and the Legitimacy of Organ Sale.

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a 'single-issue' ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module explores some key debates in contemporary feminist philosophy, with particularly emphasis on its uncomfortable relationship with liberalism. The course draws attention to feminist critiques of key liberal concepts, such as consent, the social contract, autonomy, universal rights, and the private/public distinction. We go on to apply theoretical debates in feminist thought to the following political issues: prostitution, pornography, feminine appearance, multiculturalism, and human rights.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as "normative ethics". We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone's feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as 'Do not lie') which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this 'ethical mess' that we can discern.

Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have 'intrinsic moral significance'. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical responses and commentaries. Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of texts on a unified and important theme.

Exactly what the curriculum will be will different from year to year. The point of this module is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Although not set in stone, typically this module will focus on more recent philosophy (i.e. from the 20th and 21st century). The outline given to students will change from year to year depending on the text studied.

For 2016-17:

Martin Heidegger was a German philosopher of the 20th century. He believed that good philosophy requires awareness of the radical limitations of human existence, especially of our constant background anxiety and our mortality. He was not a nice analytic philosopher writing abstract texts on relatively innocent technical topics, but a clever and nasty man, who struggled with his inner demons and succumbed to the temptations of his dark age (which is also our age). In these lectures I will discuss the views that Heidegger developed on art and poetry in the 1930s, for example in his essay on the Origin of the Work of Art and his essay "Why Poets?". His views on art and poetry were not simply contributions to 'aesthetics', 'art history' or 'literature theory', but attempts to show the immense importance of art and poetry to philosophy itself. Unlike most people, he did not consider art and poetry to be 'cultural products', but defining features of the human predicament in the world. He claimed that poetry is the essence of language, language is the house of Being, and Being is the happening of truth. Do you want to know what all this means? Come to the dark side.

Read more
30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Should we think our duties to our compatriots are more important than our duties to people in other countries?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as Rawls Theory of Justice, Nozick's libertarianism and the feminist and communitarian criticism of political liberalism. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as equality, our obligations to those in the developing world, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular recent case studies.

Read more
30

The curriculum will typically be focused on an important classic or recent philosophical work. In addition, students will typically be expected to read critical commentaries. (Alternatively, a convenor may choose a small number of classic texts on a unified and important theme).

Exactly what the curriculum will be will differ from year to year. The point of introducing this module, and the sister module Philosophical Texts 2: Normative Ethics (PL626/627), is to offer students the chance to study a single text (or small number of texts) in a very focussed manner, and to introduce more variety into the curriculum. Things are left open so that the text can be altered each year as appropriate and so that different lecturers are given the chance to teach a different text.

Read more
30

This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

Read more
30

Teaching and assessment

Teaching is by lectures, seminars, class discussions, and individual and group research, which is discussed in class.

All modules are assessed by 100% coursework (essays, in-class assignments, seminar participation) throughout the year.

Careers

Through your studies, you gain the key transferable skills considered essential by graduate employers. These include excellent communication skills, both written and oral, the ability to work in a team and independently, and the ability to analyse and summarise complex material and devise innovative, well-thought-out solutions.

Recently, our graduates have gone into areas such as teaching, publishing, journalism, media, marketing, the civil service and the legal profession.

Independent rankings

For graduate prospects, Philosophy at Kent was ranked 8th in The Times Good University Guide 2018. Of Philosophy students who graduated from Kent in 2016, over 97% were in work or further study within six months (DLHE).

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

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
A level

ABB including B in French (or GCSE / some aptitude in a modern European language other than English)

GCSE

See above

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.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 16 points at HL including Philosophy 4 at HL or 5 at SL (where taken) and a modern European language (other than English) 4 at HL or 5 at SL (where taken)

International students

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.

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.

Fees

The 2019/20 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15700
Part-time £4625 £7850

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

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

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.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.