For thousands of years, people have asked fundamental questions about the universe and our place in it.
Philosophy is the search for some basic answers to some basic questions and philosophical debates are all around us: When someone says something offensive, is it part of its meaning that it is offensive, or just how it is used? Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? Can machines have intelligence? Why do beliefs need to be guided by evidence?
The Department of Philosophy at Kent is an open and friendly community with expertise in a range of areas including philosophy of mind, philosophy of time, liberation and totalitarianism, the value of suffering in criminal punishment and moral responsibility. You have the opportunity to develop your own thoughts on philosophical ideas and engage in debates on a range of topics.
Our degree programme
Philosophy teaches you how to think and react to the world: in that sense, it is one of the most practical subjects you can study.
You begin with an introduction to philosophy, including ethics, knowledge and metaphysics, logic and reasoning. You also have the opportunity to study rights and existentialism. If you are keen to widen your field of interest further, you can also study modules from other subjects.
In your second and final years, you focus in greater depth on subjects such as the philosophy of language, cognitive science, medicine, religion, feminist philosophy and politics. In the final year of study, you can also choose to write a dissertation on a topic of your choice, based on your own research.
Year abroad/placement year
You can also 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 Kent’s Go Abroad pages for more details, or the Placement Year information from the Faculty of Humanities.
In the University’s Templeman Library, you have access to a number of relevant databases, including Academic Search Premier, British Humanities Index, The Philosopher’s Index and Web of Science.
The Philosophy Society is run by Kent students to promote philosophical discussion. The society hosts a series of activities including lectures, film nights, pub walks and social events.
The Philosophy Department runs an active events programme that you are welcome to attend. These may include:
invited lecturers reading groups seminars and conferencesthe philosophy reading weekend.
have lectures, some have seminars, and all have class discussions. Some promote
‘student active’ learning techniques which encourage you to work on individual
or group research, and present your findings to the rest of the class.
Assessment of philosophy modules is by essays, in-class
assignments, seminar participation or tests, or a combination of these methods.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding in:
- the ideas of the major philosophers as encountered in their own writings, from the ancient Greek philosophers to the present day
- central theories and arguments in the fields of logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind, including such topics as existence, truth, certainty, meaning, causality, free will, and the relation of mind and body
- central theories and arguments in the fields of moral, political and social philosophy, including such topics as the nature of judgements about right and wrong, human rights, duties and obligations, the relation between the individual and society, freedom, and justice
- the relevance of philosophical ideas to other disciplines and areas of enquiry such as literature, the arts, religion, law, politics and social studies.
You gain intellectual skills in:
- following complex presentations
- reading a variety of technical and non-technical material
- using libraries effectively
- 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 in the evaluation of this material
- formulating independent ideas and defending them with cogent arguments.
You gain subject-specific skills in the following areas:
- articulacy in identifying underlying issues in philosophical debates
- precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial philosophical problems
- sensitivity in the interpretation of philosophical texts drawn from a variety of historical periods
- clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts
- the ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology
- the ability to abstract, analyse and construct sound arguments and to identify logical fallacies
- recognising methodological errors, rhetorical devices, unexamined conventional wisdom, unnoticed assumptions, vagueness and superficiality
- the ability to move between generalisation and detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing between relevant and irrelevant considerations
- the ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically presuppositions and methods.
You gain transferable skills in the following:
- communication – producing focused and cogent written presentations summarising information and assessing arguments; giving oral presentations, using visual aids where appropriate
- problem-solving – identifying problems; assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions; defending your own solutions
- improving your learning – identifying your strengths and weaknesses; assessing the quality of your own work; managing your time and meeting deadlines; learning to work independently
- working with others – participating in seminar discussions, responding to the views of others and to criticisms of your own views without giving or taking offence; engaging in independent group work, including the preparation of group presentations
- using information technology – wordprocessing essays; using online information sources; using e-mail for receiving and responding to communications.
This programme aims to:
- promote the study of philosophy within a strongly multidisciplinary context
- produce graduates with knowledge in the main themes and texts of the Western tradition in philosophy
- produce graduates equipped with the skills and abilities characteristic of philosophers
- produce graduates equipped with generic skills for study in the humanities
- enable students to develop more general skills and competences so that they can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.