Philosophy is the careful, critical, and reasoned engagement with a wide range of fundamental questions about human existence; about art, politics, justice, right and wrong, truth and knowledge, faith and reason.
Here at Lancaster we approach these questions not only through the history of Western philosophy, examining figures such as Plato, Kant, Descartes and Nietzsche, but also through non-Western approaches to philosophy, and contemporary philosophical discussion of a wide range of topics.
Lancaster is distinctive in two respects:
- a large proportion of our experts specialise in applied philosophy and contribute to discussions about public policy and the law, both nationally and internationally.
- a number of experts specialise in non-Western philosophy, including Indian and Islamic philosophical traditions.
These two distinctions make Lancaster uniquely placed to provide a wide-ranging programme that is balanced and rounded, drawing on philosophies from around the world. We have a particular focus on how philosophy can be used in daily life, from government to education, international relations to well-being. Our lecturers are passionate about their specialisms and bring their latest research into their teaching.
The degree covers many topics and approaches. As you advance into years two and three, you increasingly have the opportunity to tailor the degree to your own interests by choosing from a wide range of modules.
In your first year you will take three modules. The cornerstone is the core module Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality, which draws on a broad range of philosophical traditions and covers several areas of philosophy including metaphysics and epistemology. It will also develop your ability to reason and think clearly about the most fundamental questions of human existence. We’ll study both European and non-European sources.
In the first year we also strongly recommend that you take the complementary module Moral and Political Philosophy. This will develop your ability to reason and think clearly about questions of how we ought to act and organise our lives together. You will also be able to choose a third module from a range of subjects that complement your studies.
In the second year and third years you can choose from a broad range of options. These are just some of the many modules we offer:
- Indian Philosophical and religious Thought
- Understanding Liberty: Theory and Practice
- Mind-Body Problem
- Moral Philosophy
- Nineteenth Century Philosophy
- Philosophical Questions in the Study of Politics and Economics
- Philosophy of Science
- Values and Objectivity
- Exploring Politics, Religion and Values
- Darwinism and Philosophy
- Feminist Philosophy
- Future Generations
- The Imagination
- PPR in India – includes three weeks at Manipal University in India
The options available in any given year vary depending on our latest research, student feedback and topical concerns. You will find further information about modules in the Course Structure section.
In your final year, you have the opportunity to undertake a sustained investigation of a specific subject that interests you. This is the dissertation option, where you define a question with a member of academic staff, who will discuss the topic with you and advise you in your own research.
“Studying philosophy at Lancaster has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and has allowed me to study a wide range of subjects including ethics, epistemology, the nature of the mind and many more interesting topics. Being taught by experts within their field who have a real passion for their subjects and who encourage and guide you through your work is incredibly helpful and is a key strength of the department. I have also been fortunate enough to do a placement year whilst completing my studies. I worked for an international charity called Hospices of Hope which promotes hospice care in southeast Europe. Philosophy has given me key analytic and evaluative skills which helped me conduct research and plan marketing.”
John Garman, BA (Hons) Philosophy (Placement Year)
Placement Year and Study Aboard options
You can also study Philosophy as a placement year degree (four years) which provides the opportunity for you to develop your employment experience and skills. Alternatively, there is the opportunity to opt for you to study abroad for a year (replacing your second year at Lancaster) and experience living in another country while studying your degree subject from a different perspective. Our current partner universities are located in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and the USA. Both options are valuable additions to your CV.
Short work and study experiences
We are home to the Richardson Institute for Peace Studies, which undertakes research into issues around peace and conflict. In recent years, the Institute has offered around 60 internships per year for students to undertake research projects for external organisations such as NGOs, think tanks, charities and faith based organisations. These internships are a terrific opportunity to undertake fascinating and rewarding projects, develop employability skills, build your professional network and enhance your CV.
You can also apply for placements and internships through the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences. Past employers have included Carnegie Publishing, The Dukes Theatre, and the Ethical Consumer Research Association, with a range of roles available.
The University usually offers a variety of short overseas trips during vacation periods. In recent years these have included business, academic and cultural excursions during trips to Malaysia, India, Ghana, China and the US (New York and Boston).
We are a lively department and several staff are involved in national and international advisory groups and our students benefit from these connections. We have extra-curricular events such as conferences, talks and seminars taking place throughout the year.
Our students take part in the many clubs and societies that are supported by Lancaster University Student’s Union. This includes the Philosophical Society that organises regular discussions, debates and guest speakers, as well as international societies representing different countries, faith groups, political groups, debating society, Intervol and many more. There are regular events, trips and high profile visiting speakers, which provide numerous ways to get involved and meet other students who share your interests.