Renowned department

One of the country's largest philosophy departments, Bristol is ranked in the UK top 10 for the subject (Complete University Guide 2024).

Interdisciplinary learning

Our joint honours courses span three faculties, so you will study alongside students from a variety of disciplines.

Vibrant community

Get involved with local outreach events, join our student societies, or visit our department's 'Kierkegaarden' allotment.

Philosophy at Bristol

Studying philosophy at Bristol gives you the opportunity to delve into some of the deepest questions that have puzzled great thinkers. These include questions like the following:

  • What sort of things exist?
  • Are we free to choose our actions?
  • Is a person their mind or their body?
  • How can we acquire knowledge of an external world?
  • What determines whether an act is right or wrong?
  • Do non-human animals have rights?
  • How do words come to have meanings?
  • What are our obligations to future people?

You will explore your interests through specialised units and independent research. Areas of special strength include philosophy of mind and language, ethics, political philosophy, logic, philosophy of mathematics and philosophy of science (especially biology and physics).

Studying Philosophy leaves me with wide-ranging career options, so whatever I choose to do I know I'll have a strong grounding in being able to academically evaluate, unpick arguments and think more widely about issues.

Lucy, BA Philosophy

Career prospects

Two people talking in a library.

Philosophers are highly employable. A wide range of employers value analytical skills, such as flexibility of thought and the capacity for developing coherent and compelling arguments.

Recent philosophy graduates have gone on to work as lawyers, journalists, teachers, consultants, software developers, and leaders in business.

Course structure

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During your degree, you will gain a broad understanding of philosophy, and you can also deepen your knowledge with a choice of optional units each year.

Our first-year units introduce you to philosophy and its methods. You will study metaphysics, epistemology, logic, ethics, and political philosophy. For instance, in Introduction to Philosophy A, you will read texts by Descartes and Hume and learn about knowledge, truth, and the distinction between reality and appearance.

In the second year, you will take one mandatory unit and your choice of optional units. Recent optional units have included:

  • Political Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Space, Time and Matter
  • Beyond Humanity.

You may also have the opportunity to spend a semester studying abroad at one of our worldwide partners. Visit the Centre for Study Abroad to find out more.

In the final year, you will select further optional units. Recent units have included:

  • Philosophy of Psychology
  • The Philosophy and History of Medicine
  • The Ethics of Migration and Citizenship
  • Evil, Deviance and Crime.

You will also undertake an extended essay project on a topic of your choice. 


The exterior of a stone building.

Our academics and students are involved in philosophy education outreach events and projects with the general public. This includes the Bridging Histories project, which uses free educational activities to connect with others, learn about the past, and create positive change for the future.

The department is based in Cotham House. This is where you will have many of your seminars, and meet with academics during their office hours. There is a newly renovated study space, common room, small library, piano and kitchen. 

The outdoor space, known as the 'Kierkegaarden', is maintained by students and academics during weekly gardening sessions.

Students regularly spend their days studying and socialising in Cotham House. The Philosophy Society provides further opportunities for discussions outside the classroom with like-minded friends.

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