Philosophy at Dundee key facts

  • Flexible courses offering opportunities to gain a wide and varied education whilst reinforcing a great depth of knowledge in your specialism, and developing your own enthusiasm within a structure that will teach you to think about a range of personal, cultural and historical topics
  • Choose to study Philosophy alongside many other subjects including English, European Studies, Film Studies, History, International Relations, Languages, Politics, Psychology, and you can also combine Philosophy with fine art practice in the University of Dundee's unique Art, Philosophy, Contemporary Practices degree course
  • Opportunities to spend a year or a semester studying overseas - Europe, North America or Australia
  • In the 2014 National Student Survey Philosophy at Dundee ranked 1st in the UK (out of 43) and 1st in Scotland for overall student satisfaction and 1st in Scotland in the individual themes for teaching on the course, Assessment and Feedback, Academic Support, and Personal Development
  • Unique in Scotland in specialising in Continental Philosophy

Student Life at Dundee key facts

  • One-stop compact city campus - virtually traffic-free, with attractive landscaped spaces
  • The City of Dundee - small and friendly
  • Dundee University Students' Association (DUSA) is regularly top of student polls, and houses Dundee's largest nightclub
  • Excellent Campus Sporting facilities for competitors or just keeping fit
  • En-suite accommodation on & near campus guaranteed to new students (who apply by the deadline)

Philosophy at Dundee

Philosophy at Dundee

What is time?  Should I be a vegetarian? Does my cat think? What is truth? Is censorship ever justified? How do I know that other people aren't robots? Do human beings have free will?

These are just some of the questions you will explore when you come to the University of Dundee to study Philosophy. We will encourage you to examine your own beliefs and to put them to the test as we explore the views of some of the most important thinkers in the history of Western thought.

In our Philosophy programme you will be taught by a dynamic team of lecturers with national and international reputations. Through their work, they play an active role in shaping some of the most exciting debates in contemporary philosophy. They will introduce you to these debates, as well as to innovative philosophical approaches to contemporary issues in politics, ethics, art, film, literature, and the sciences.

Our programme is unique in Scotland in specializing in European Philosophy (sometimes also called Continental Philosophy), and it is also distinctive in 3 ways:

  • We encourage you to think about philosophical questions through reading the key texts of European philosophy. During your degree you will read, discuss, and explore the views of Plato, Descartes, Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, Sartre, Wittgenstein, and Foucault, to name just a few.
  • We explore how philosophy is important to real-world concerns and contemporary issues.  In our lectures we regularly draw on films and artworks, we discuss important scientific developments, we debate controversial ethical issues, we look at how texts written three hundred years ago can be relevant to political situations today, and how an abstract theory about the nature of reality can influence the concrete details of how you live your life.
  • We believe that philosophy should be connected to whatever interests you.  We encourage you to make links between philosophy and other disciplines, such as politics, literature, film, the environment, psychology, and computer science. Specialist modules and independent study options will help you to explore philosophically the topics of special interest to you.

What is it like to study Philosophy at Dundee?

When you come to Dundee to study Philosophy, you become part of a community of students and staff. Here is what some of our students say about studying Philosophy at Dundee.

  • "The critical skills you gain through studying philosophy can be applied to everything from music to neuroscience. I chose Dundee because the programme is innovative and strongly interdisciplinary, while small enough to give you time to regularly discuss topics with lecturers and fellow students. I'd definitely recommend the programme to others."
    3rd year student, Single Honours Philosophy
  • "Studying philosophy at Dundee has been a very rewarding experience for me, as I followed a programme of study that covered many of the central thinkers of Western thought. As I progressed in my course, the philosophy became more challenging, but the staff are always pleased to explain concepts clearly and thoroughly, and to show the relevance of what we were studying not only to philosophy, but also to other disciplines and to modern life in general."
    4th year student, Single Honours Philosophy

What is Philosophy?

What is Philosophy?

These are some answers to the question "What is Philosophy?" as supplied by staff and students at the University of Dundee:

  • "A way of thinking; since thinking defines the nature of being human, philosophy is of fundamental importance"
  • "A way of understanding what shapes our beliefs and actions"
  • "Clear and distinct reflection upon our cognitive practices"
  • "Openness to thinking about the familiar in unfamiliar ways"
  • "Learning to continually scrutinise beliefs"
  • "The creation of concepts"
  • "The destruction of worlds and the construction of better, new ones"
  • "A critical practice responding to our present"

As you can see, there is no right answer to the question; there are as many answers as there are philosophers and philosophy students. It's a good example of the kind of questions we think about in philosophy: big questions that are asked, and answered, in multiple different ways.

Philosophy involves being open to new and different responses to familiar and unfamiliar questions. If you ever find yourself thinking about big questions beyond everyday experience - questions that may never have a single, final answer - then you would probably enjoy studying philosophy. In fact, if you ask and think about these kinds of questions, you are doing philosophy already.

What you will study

What you will study

We offer a wide spectrum of expertise and different approaches to teaching across our subject areas.  You will take modules in Philosophy and will choose from a wide range of module topics.

Level 1

In level 1 you will take the following Philosophy modules along with two other subjects from the wide range available in the MA Degree programme

  • 'Descartes, Thought, and Reality' has two units.  One focuses on the philosophy of Descartes and his famous theories of "I think therefore I am" and the relation of mind and body.  The second unit looks at what some later philosophers have thought about the human mind and body, and how we perceive the world around us.
  • 'Plato and the Good Life' is similarly organised into two units.  One introduces you to the philosophy of Plato, and topics such as the immortality of the soul, the question of virtue, and where knowledge comes from.  In the second unit we address one of the most enduring questions in philosophy: what is the good life, and how can we live it?  We read and discuss a range of philosophers to address this question, considering problems and positions in ethics along the way.

You will attend two Philosophy lectures per week, in which teaching staff will introduce you to the major themes and topics of a philosopher or philosophical problem.  You will also attend a Philosophy tutorial every week, where you will discuss philosophical texts and problems in-depth with a small group of students.  You will also engage in independent reading and research, with specially designed worksheets and assignments to help you to do this most effectively.  All first and second year students have a tutor who leads the weekly tutorial discussion and who is there to help if you run into difficulty.

Level 2

Level 2 Philosophy follows a similar structure to the first year modules, although different topics are covered.  You will discover how philosophy can be relevant to technology, culture, film and Aesthetics.

Levels 3 & 4

At levels 3 & 4 you take different module options in areas of Philosophy that are most interesting to you (if you take a joint honours degree course, then half of your modules are in Philosophy, and half in your other subject).  For example, you can take Philosophy modules on specific philosophers, such as Marx, Nietzsche, or Wittgenstein; and modules that focus on a broader topic such as Philosophy of Time, Philosophies of Art, Philosophy of Technology, or Philosophy of Work.  The level 4 dissertation is the high-point of your studies, where you will put forward and defend a thesis in an area of philosophy of your choice.


Studying Abroad

Studying Abroad

We offer you plenty of opportunities to benefit from international study too. Studying abroad improves your academic experience and gives important social experience and contacts which can benefit you throughout your life and your working career.  Studying abroad usually allows you to gain credits overseas and they will contribute to your University of Dundee degree.  You can also study using English Language with most of our partners!

Philosophy students taking part in these opportunities usually go away during their second or third year, though there are various different arrangements possible. The list of partner institutions varies from year to year, but currently includes the Czech Republic, France, Germany, and Turkey, plus eleven Universities in the US, six in Canada, four in Australia, one in New Zealand, and two in Hong Kong.

Read more on our Studying Abroad website

Your Future

Looking to your Future

"Philosophy graduates are highly employable because philosophy teaches you how to think for yourself and analyse and communicate ideas in a clear, rational and well thought out way. Being a philosophy student is less about building a body of knowledge than about learning how to learn. This is one of the distinctive strengths, and key benefits, of studying philosophy. Whereas the knowledge learnt in other disciplines may be superseded by future discoveries or made obsolete by changes of circumstance, the ability to think critically does not become devalued over time. On the contrary, it is invaluable when new situations occur."

Employability: Where next? Unlocking the Potential of your Philosophy Degree

A degree in philosophy will allow you to acquire intellectual and perceptual skills of vital advantage in the pursuit of any professional career. Studying philosophy will allow you to:

  • Identify and explain the underlying issues in all kinds of debate
  • Develop creative and robust responses to difficult issues
  • Gain the ability to analyse and to formulate complex and controversial problems
  • Read closely and become sensitive to arguments from a variety of sources and traditions
  • Offer clear and rigorous critical responses to arguments
  • Summarise and assess points of view which are not your own
  • Learn the self-discipline required for independent research

Employers recognize that these skills are highly transferable. They mark out independent and thoughtful individuals. Philosophy will serve you well in your future career and life-long learning. As well as continuing to postgraduate study, recent Dundee graduates from Philosophy have gone on to work in publishing, teaching, and the civil service.

Careers Advice

You can get free guidance and information on career paths open to you at the University's Careers Service.   A 24-page booklet, Employability: Where next? Unlocking the Potential of your Philosophy Degree is a very useful guide to identifying the skills you have gained in philosophy, highlighting them to employers, and considering how they can lead you to a variety of career paths.

To find out more ...

  1. Entry requirements for Scottish, UK, European & International applicants can be found in the online University Prospectus
  2. More details about what you will study in the online University Prospectus
  3. Fees information is also in the online University Prospectus
  4. Find out about Scholarships available for Philosophy students
  5. Visit us, come to Philosophy on a Visit Day, see the campus for yourself, and meet the team here
  6. Apply for Philosophy at Dundee, via UCAS

If you are considering applying to Dundee and have any questions that are not answered on our website, please contact our Philosophy Recruitment Coordinator, Dr Ashley Woodward (+44(0)1382 384439, email