Information on PhD study in the philosophy department, including how to apply, supervision and tuition.
We have a large and friendly postgraduate community, with students from across the globe. There is a vibrant research culture: our staff offer expertise in a wide range of areas; there are up to a dozen reading groups going at any given time, the majority of which are student-led, and students present work in progress at weekly postgraduate seminars and at the annual reading weekend.
There are special events for women in philosophy and lots of conferences and other events. Many PhD students are involved in Philosophy in the City, a student-run organisation that brings philosophy into local schools and homeless shelters. We have a strong placement record for our graduates. Our building in Victoria Street has plenty of study space, as well as a kitchen for postgraduates.
About our Philosophy PhD programme
- Programme length
Full-time: The length of the full-time programme varies between 3-4 years depending on the funding body. Individual time limits will be confirmed in the offer letter you receive from the Admissions Team.
Part-time: The length of the part-time programme varies between 6-8 years depending on the funding body. Individual time limits will be confirmed in the offer letter you receive from the Admissions Team.
- Entry requirements
You will need an MA at Distinction level from a UK University or equivalent grade from overseas. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about your qualifications.
Admissions decisions are based mainly on:
- What your referees say about you
- Your writing sample
- Your record of academic achievement
English language requirements for 2020 entry
Overall IELTS grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component, or equivalent.
- Tuition fees and funding
The University of Sheffield offers scholarships to PhD students to support their studies and you can also apply for British government (AHRC) funding via the White Rose Consortium (WRoCAH) of which Sheffield is a part. Our funding page gives more details, and you can contact our Funding Advisor, Jimmy Lenman with any questions: email@example.com.
- Disabled applicants
We welcome disabled students. We're committed to responding effectively and appropriately to individual support needs. We take all practicable steps to ensure that disabled students can participate in their studies without disadvantage, and can make full use of the University's academic and support services. Information for disabled applicants
- Contact us
For more information, email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: +44 114 222 0587
How to apply
You are welcome to contact the department to discuss your application, but for formal consideration, you must complete the University's application form.
- Application contents
- The completed application form.
- Reference letters from two referees, who should each send their references to the Department directly (email@example.com or by post). Your referees should be people able to address the issue of your academic abilities and performance. Ideally, they should be professional academic philosophers with experience of teaching you and knowledge of your work. Other things being equal, the more they know about you the better.
- If applying for PhD, a writing sample in English of 3,000-6,000 words. You could send one long essay or two short ones - though a single one is better. This can be on any philosophical topic.
- Academic transcripts of your academic performance at undergraduate and Masters level.
- Documentation of English language qualifications if you are not a native speaker.
There are no deadlines as such, however there will be deadlines for the applications you may want to make to the various sources of funding available.
The department makes every effort to ensure that students receive full support and guidance throughout their studies. You will meet monthly with your primary research supervisor. Each student is also assigned a secondary supervisor, with whom you will meet less frequently, to give you the benefit of a broader range of advice.
The department has a lively research culture. Find out more about our research activities.
We offer our own in-house Philosophy Tutor Training programme for postgraduate research students in the Philosophy Department. This can count towards your Doctoral Development Programme requirements.
The University also offers a range of different DDP modules that include some teacher training.
Tutoring in the department is a great opportunity not just to learn how to teach philosophy, but to develop your own philosophical skills as well. Learning how to facilitate philosophical discussion is an integral part of being a good philosopher.
- Philosophy tutoring
One of the teaching opportunities PGR students have is as a tutor on the department’s first year modules. This opportunity is normally open to all PhD students registered in the Philosophy Department from the second semester of their PhD.
The teaching involves facilitating discussion in the tutorial groups that run alongside and complement lectures. Usually preparation guidance and discussion questions for these tutorials are provided by lecturers, but room is also left for the facilitator’s initiative. Tutors are paid both for preparation time and contact time, and can expect to teach 2-4 groups per week.
- Philosophical problems and projects
Our postgraduate research students also have the opportunity to design and lead their own module in the latter stages of their PhD. Our Philosophical Problems modules are taught by PhD students on topics related to their research interests. Recent examples of modules designed and taught by our PhD students include "Contemporary Debates in Biology: Sex, Gender, Sexuality & Race" and "Perception, Experience and Agency". Our Philosophical Projects modules provide the opportunity to supervise undergraduate students through a guided reading project of your choosing. These opportunities are optional and subject to availability each year.
For more information on teaching opportunities in the department, contact the Director of Graduate Studies for Research Students Jenny Saul in Spring, or the Director of First Year Studies, Chris Bennett.
The Philosophy Department in Sheffield welcomes international students. Many of our graduate students and many of our staff are from other European countries, Asia and America.
Our PhD students have strong placement records. For those seeking academic jobs, the usual first post is as either a postdoctoral researcher or a temporary lecturer/teaching fellow, with permanent posts coming a little later. Our students have secured jobs in the UK at departments like Birmingham, Cambridge, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hull, Kent, Kings, Leeds, LSE, Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan, Nottingham, Open University, Oxford, Roehampton, Sheffield, and UWE. And they have secured jobs in many countries around the world including Austria, Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, and the United States. See below for a list of recent PhD topics.
Particular placement information for our graduates can be found by following the links to their personal websites, where available.
- Recent PhDs
Year of completion Thesis title Supervisors 2019 Robbie Morgan The Distinct Wrong of Sexual Attacks Bennett/Saul Anthony Eagan Voracious Hermeneutics: On Kierkegaard's Concept of the Interesting Stern/Pyper Alexandre Duval Where Am I? The Cognitive Architecture of Spatial Reorientation Laurence/Barlassina James Lewis The practical significance of the second-person relation Stern/Faulkner/Viehoff 2018 Stephen Bolton Higher-Order Vagueness Keefe/Leech/Olson Graham Bex-Priestley Higher-Order Expressivism: The Dyadic Nature of Moral Judgement Lenman/Lawford-Smith/Shemmer Josh Matthews The Experimental Approach to Vagueness Keefe/Williams (Leeds) Ahmad Fattah Pragmatist Possibilities for Alasdair MacIntyre's Philosophy Stern/Bennett Trystan Goetze Conceptual Responsibility Fricker/Faulkner Neri Marsili You don’t say! Lying, asserting and insincerity Saul/Faulkner Joshua Thomas Meaningfulness and Mortality Bennett/Lenman Francesco Antilici Can Infants Reason About Beliefs? Laurence/Botterill 2017 Andreas Bunge The Nature of Attitudes: Profiles of Situation-Specific Evaluative Response Dispositions Holroyd/Barlassina/Stafford (Psychology) Ashley Pennington The Pragmatics of Linguistic Injustice Saul/Keefe Damiano La Manna The Functional Role of Phenomenal Consciousness Gregory/Barlassina Henry Cusworth The Many Relations Between Language and Thought: Three Case Studies Laurence/Keefe Gonzalo Nuñez Erices Carving the World at its Boundaries. A Metaphysical Study Olson/Keefe Siobhan Moriarty Ontological Categories, Existence Statements, and Metaphysical Modality. Hale/Leech/Makin Neil Williams Realism, Individualism, and Pluralism: The Metaphysics and Ethics of William James Hookway/Stern Philippa Read (Leeds University) 'Female Heroism in First World War France: Representations and Lived Experiences.' Hobbs (Sheffield)/Fell (Leeds) 2016 Maria Kasmirli 'Conversational Implicature: Re-assessing the Gricean Framework' Saul/Botterill Adriana Clavel Vazquez 'Engaging with Counter-Moral Fictions: A Contextual Approach' Gregory/Bennett Bernardo Pino 'A Defence of the Theoretical Relevance of the Term ‘Concept’' Laurence/Botterill Alex Baker-Graham 'Feeling Like Stories: Empathy and Narrative Engagement' Gregory/Romdenh-Romluc Philipp Rau The Author, Not the Tale: Memory, Narrative, and the Self Botterill/Gregory Richard Healey The Power of Consent Viehoff/Bennett Stephen Ingram Robustness in Moral Reality: Norms, Necessity and Robust Realism Lenman/Fricker Cristina Roadevin Blame and Forgiveness Bennett/Fricker Katharine Jenkins Ontic Injustice Saul/Fricker Armin Khameh The Morality of Toleration Viehoff/Stern 2015 Joe Saunders Reason, Freedom and Morality: An Interpretation and Defence of Kant's Groundwork III Stern/Bennett Charlotte Alderwick Freedom and Powers in Schelling's Metaphysics Stern/Olson Pete Caven Moral Disagreement: A Psychological Account and the Political Implications Shemmer/Botterill Simon Kittle Free will and the ability to do otherwise
Elianna Fetterolf Remorse: A Prospective Genealogy Fricker/Bennett Paniel Reyes Cardenas The Place of Scholastic Realism in Peirce's Pragmatic Philosophy Hookway/Makin 2014 Stephen Wright The nature of testimonial justification Faulkner/Fricker Carl Fox Party to the Hypothetical Contract: Obligation, Legitimacy, and Autonomy Lenman/Viehoff Jonathan Parry Authority and Harm in War Viehoff/Lenman Frank Arthurs Free Will, Determinism, and Moral Responsibility Shemmer/Olson Jack Wadham Representation Rectified Hopkins/Gregory Joseph Kisolo-Ssonko On Collective Action: Underpinning the Plural Subject with a Model of Planning Agency Faulkner/Keefe Natasha McKeever Romantic Love and Monogamy: A Philosophical Exploration Bennett/Saul Jan Kandiyali Karl Marx's Individualistic Conception of the Good Life Bennett/Stern Ivar Hannikainnen Evaluative Focus: A Dual-Process View of Moral Judgment Laurence/Lenman 2013 Bernardo Aguilera Mindedness: On the Minimal Conditions for Possessing a Mind Laurence/Gregory Jessica Begon Policy Without Paternalism: A Capability Approach to Legitimate State Action Viehoff/Bennett Inga Vermeulen Words Matter: A Pragmatist View on the Study of Words in First-order Philosophy Laurence/Keefe Joshua Forstenzer John Dewey's Experimentalism and the Problem of Method in Political Philosophy Stern/Hookway Paul Giladi Hegel's Critique and Development of Kant Stern/Hookway Josh Fedorko Kant and Hegel on Things in Themselves Stern/Hookway Jonathan Payne Expansionist Abstraction Hale/Keefe Angela Pepper Feminism and Global Justice Saul/G. Brown (Politics) Naoki Usui Innateness and the Mind Laurence/Faulkner Lindsey Porter The Moral Status of Babies and our Obligations to Them Bennett/Laurence 2012 Kathy Puddifoot Psychology and the Goals of Epistemology Laurence/Hookway Peter Oxtoby Dualist Intuitions and Phenomenal Consciousness Olson/Hopkins 2011 David Ekstrand Reciprocity and the State: A Liberal Theory of Legitimacy Lenman/Sleat/Shemmer Laura Beeby Communicative Injustice Saul/Hookway Matt Jones Semantic Scepticism: Normativity and Naturalism Hale/Hookway Tatjana von Solodkoff Grounding Fiction Olson/Gregory Graeme Forbes The Times They Are A-Changin': Rehabilitating the Growing Block Theory of Time Makin/Olson Victor Cantero Flores The Source of Broadly Logical Necessity Hale/Gregory Robin Scaife Agency and Freedom of the Will: the Challenge from Psychology Botterill/Laurence Heather Arnold Taking the Abolition of the Family Seriously Saul/Lenman Jessica Leech The Varieties of Modality: Kantian Prospects for a Relativist Account Hale (Sheffield)/Correia (Geneva) Daniel Herbert Kant, Pierce and the Transcendental Deduction Stern/Hookway Suilin Lavelle Understanding Folk Psychology, Theory, Understanding and Explanation in Social Cognition Botterill/Hopkins Tom O'Shea Autonomy and the Foundations of Normativity Stern/Hookway Katie Harrington Responding to the Scandal of Scepticism: Kant's Fourth Paralogism and the Refutation of Idealism Stern/Hopkins 2010 Julien Murzi Intuitionism and logical revisionism Hale / Gregory Megan Kime Theories of global justice: relational and non-relational approaches Bennett / Stern Sean Cordell Virtue ethics in the contemporary social and political realm Bennett / Stern 2009 Jonathan Smith Atheism and moral scepticism Lenman / Shemmer Giles Banning-Lover Davidson and scepticism Hookway / Hopkins Cristina Carestiato A transcendental argument from externalism Stern / Hopkins 2008 Andrew Thomas Truth-making and Deflationism Keefe / Hale Leonardo Ribeiro Desires, Agency and Self-Determination Botterill / Owens Jose E Gonzalez Varela Quinean scepticism about de re modalizing and non-cognitivism Hale / Makin Davide Rizza Applicability, Idealization, and Mathematization Hale / Keefe Jules Holroyd Autonomy Saul / Lenman Paul Sludds Hedonism, Wellbeing and Death Lenman / Shemmer 2007 Suzanne Lock Content, Causation and Relational Properties Laurence / Botterill Stellios Tavoularis Hegel, Plotinus and Jacobi: Idealism and Two Varieties of Mysticism Stern / Makin Lina Papadaki Sexual Objectification: from Kant to Contemporary Feminism Saul / Wenar Joe Morrison The Evidence of Holism Faulkner / Hookway Andre Abath Challenging Conceptualism About Perceptual Experience Laurence / Hopkins Andrew Howat Pragmatism and Response Dependence Hookway / Hopkins Anna Wilkinson Issues in Ethical Naturalism: Motivation, Explanation and Semantics Bennett / Lenman Esa Diaz-Leon Consciousness, Conceivability and Concepts Laurence / Keefe Richard Woodward The Case of the Moral Fictionalist Divers / Gregory 2006 Kathryn Wilkinson Hegel, The Sacrifice of Personality and Marriage Stern / Hookway Naomi Rosenberg Moore's Paradox and the Conditions of Honest Assertion Keefe / Bell Simon Fitzpatrick Simplicity, Science and Mind Laurence / Faulkner
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