Philosophy students in a seminar.

Philosophy, Religion and Ethics BA

Department of Philosophy

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You are viewing this course for 2021-2022 entry.

Key details

Course description

This degree will deepen your understanding of philosophy, religion and ethics, and the questions they raise. You'll learn to develop and defend your own critical perspectives within the context of global events, exploring topics ranging from the value of religious faith and practices to the ethics of climate change or euthanasia.

You'll study modules from philosophy, religion and ethics, and you'll be taught by researchers who are experts in their fields, including history, biblical studies and gender studies. You also have lots of choice, as none of our modules are compulsory, though we provide advice on the best way to structure your options.

You'll learn through interactive lectures and seminars, and take part in presentations, debates and field work. You'll be given extensive feedback on your work.

You'll be assessed through exams and essays and longer projects. Some modules use presentations, portfolios, posters or artwork installations. In year three, you'll have the opportunity to write a dissertation, working closely with a member of academic staff.

We have a lively academic community. For example our Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies is a world-leading institute for multidisciplinary research on the Bible.

Our Centre for Engaged Philosophy pursues research into questions of fundamental political and social importance, from criminal justice and social inclusion to climate ethics, all topics that are covered in our teaching.

There's always something exciting going on, whether it's put on by staff or students. You can pursue collaborative research projects, attend guest lectures, work with the public, or present your own academic work outside of the classroom.

An academic delivers a philosophy lecture.

Modules

Our programme is designed so that you take modules in Philosophy, Religion and Ethics. You have the flexibility to choose from a range of modules in each subject area so you can design your degree to suit your interests.

Many of the modules which are available are interdisciplinary, exhibiting a strong focus on more than one of the three areas. The modules outlined are marked PHIL, REL, ETH to indicate their focus on Philosophy, Religion or Ethics. While available modules may change from year to year, this list is representative of the typical modules which may be available. 

The modules listed below are examples from the last academic year. There may be some changes before you start your course. For the very latest module information, check with the department directly.

Title: Philosophy, Religion and Ethics BA course structure
UCAS code: VV56
Years: 2021

You must take 120 credits in total, choosing at least 20 credits from each of the following groups plus an additional 20 credits from any group.

After that, you can choose freely from the modules listed below or you can choose up to 40 credits in other subjects in your first year.

You will choose at least 20 credits of Philosophy from:

Elementary Logic

The course will provide students with a theoretical knowledge of the fundamental parts of formal logic. It will also teach them a range of associated formal techniques with which they can then analyse and assess arguments. In particular, they will learn the languages of propositional and first-order logic, and they will learn how to use those languages in providing formal representations of everyday claims. They will also learn how to use truth-tables. Finally, students will learn how to prove things using that language.

10 credits
Film and Philosophy

This module introduces central themes in philosophy through the medium of films. Many films have clear philosophical themes and resonance, and we would choose a selection to cover a range of philosophical topics. For example: free will (The Matrix), death (The Seventh Seal), mind (Her), time travel (Back to the Future), technology (I, Robot), hope (The Road), evil (The Dark Knight). (The exact films shown will change from year to year.)

10 credits
History of Philosophical Ideas

The history of philosophy is made up of a series of debates between competing philosophical traditions and schools: for example, idealists argue with realists, rationalists with empiricists. And at different times, distinctive philosophical movements have dominated the discussion, such as pragmatism, existentialism, phenomenology, analytic philosophy, and critical theory. This module will introduce you to some of these central movements and traditions in the history of philosophy from Plato onwards, and the key philosophical concepts and issues that they have brought in to western thought.

10 credits
Knowledge, Justification and Doubt

In our age of post-truth politics and fake news, this course aims to introduce students to philosophy by investigating some basic problems in epistemology (i.e. the philosophical study of knowledge). We will address questions such as: what knowledge is and why it is important; what truth is; what kinds of things can be known and how; if and how perceptual experience gives us knowledge of an ¿external¿ world; whether all knowledge has to be grounded in experience; whether knowledge is socially constructed (and if so whether that is necessarily problematic); what role justice plays in our epistemic practices.

10 credits
Mind, Brain and Personal Identity

This module provides an initial survey of a cluster of interrelated philosophical problems concerning the mind, free will, God, and the nature of persons. We will discuss questions like: What kind of thing is the mind? Is it a non-physical thing, like a soul? Or is it nothing over and above the brain? What is free will? Are we free? Does God exist? Is there an afterlife? What is a person? Do non-human animals have minds? Could they be persons? Could machines have minds or be persons?

20 credits
Philosophy of Science

The aim of this half-module is to introduce some of the philosophical issues that arise in science and through reflecting on science. Most of the questions considered concern the epistemology of scientific knowledge: how we should represent scientific theories, what counts as evidence for these theories, how scientific explanations work, and how far we can treat science as revealing to us the truth about the underlying nature of reality. This course aims to introduce these questions as philosophical issues in their own right and within in the context of the history of the philosophy of science.

10 credits
Reason and Argument

Arguments are everywhere - in our newspapers, on our television screens and radios, in books and academic papers, on blogs and other websites. We argue with our friends, families, teachers and taxi drivers. These arguments are often important ¿ they help us to decide what to do, what to believe, whom to vote for, what car to buy, what career path to follow, or where we should attend university (and what we should study). The ability to recognise, evaluate and produce arguments is therefore immeasurably valuable in every aspect of life.This course will teach you how to recognise an argument, how to understand it, how to evaluate and criticise it, and how to produce your own. Students in this module will learn how to extract an argument from a complex text, how to uncover hidden assumptions, and how to recognise and critique bad reasoning

10 credits
Writing Philosophy

Philosophical writing is a skill that you, the student, must hone early on in order to succeed in your degree. It is also a transferable skill that will serve you in your post-academic career. Philosophical writing combines the general virtues of clarity, organisation, focus and style found in other academic writing with particular philosophical virtues, namely, the ability to expose the implicit assumptions of analysed texts and to make explicit the logical structure of one's own and other people's arguments. A precondition of philosophical writing is a unique form of textual analysis that pays particular attention to its argumentative structure. In this module you will learn and practice philosophical writing. You will learn how to read in preparation for philosophical writing, learn how to plan an essay, learn how to rework your drafts and learn how to use feedback constructively. You will write fie drafts and five essays and will have one on on tutorial on each essay you write. The lectures in the course will be split between lectures of the art of writing and lectures on philosophical topics in the domain of fact and value. Essay topics will be based on the topical lectures and their associated readings

20 credits

You will choose at least 20 credits of Religion from:

Foundations in Literary Study: Biblical and Classical Sources in English Literature

This module provides foundational knowledge about the treatment of Biblical and Classical sources in English Literature. It is an important unit for the study of literature and the Humanities, preparing students for work at higher levels. Typically a Biblical or Classical source and a literary text will be discussed together, to expose a range of meanings and to prepare participants for their own research about both the Bible and Classical material as literature and the treatment of Bible and Classical material in Literature. It will also prepare students for independent research. It is recommended that all students of English take this module.

20 credits
An Introduction to Islam

The module will provide students with an introduction and overview of the religion of Islam. It will outline the formative life of the prophet Mohammed in his social, religious and cultural context as well as the early history of the Islamic faith and its central pillars of faith. It will sketch some of the major historical events and periods of Islam up to the present day and will introduce and explore the Koran and Hadith. Attention will also be paid to the history of Christian-Muslim relations and to the form and influence of Islamic art and architecture.

10 credits
A Life Worth Living

What does it mean for a life to go well? What would it look like for a live to be lived well? In short, what shape would a life worth living take? This module explores these questions through engagement with the lives and visions of founding figures from eight diverse traditions that imagine a good life: the Buddha, the Torah and other writings of ancient Judaism, Jesus of Nazareth and early Christianity, Muhammad, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Karl Marx. The module will feature visits from contemporary individuals who understand their lives to be shaped by the traditions in question. The assessment for the module helps students develop their own vision of a life worth living and includes the opportunity to facilitate discussions on these topics with members of the public living in Sheffield. As such, this module engages with historically important traditions, allows for self-reflection, and provides real world teaching experience.

20 credits
Philosophy of Religion

There are two large questions typically considered by philosophers of religion. First, is there any good reason to believe that God exists? Second, are there reasons to think that the concept of God makes no sense? In this course we consider both questions. For the first question we look at two standard arguments for the existence of God: the Argument from Design and the First Cause Argument. As regards the second question, we consider the Problem of Evil: whether the existence of God, as generally conceived, is consistent with the existence of evil.

10 credits
Religion in Britain

From faith schools to family values, from religious dress to religious wars, in 'secular' contemporary Britain religion is rarely out of the news. This module will look at various aspects of religion in contemporary Britain, including politics and war, sexuality and marriage, ritual and symbolism as well as providing an introduction to the contemporary religious map of Britain and the diverse religions that contribute to it.

20 credits

You will choose at least 20 credits of Ethics from:

History of Ethics

This unit offers a critical introduction to the history of ethical thought in the West, examining some of the key ideas of e.g. Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Bentham, Mill, Nietzsche, Rawls and Gilligan. It thus provides a textual introduction to some of the main types of ethical theory; the ethics of flourishing and virtue; deontology; utilitarianism; contractualism. The close interconnections between ethics and other branches of philosophy (e.g. metaphysics, epistemology, aesthetics) will be highlighted, as will the connections between ethics and other disciplines (e.g. psychology, anthropology). Our main text will be Singer, P. (ed), 1994, Ethics, Oxford University Press.

10 credits
Death

This module is mainly about death itself [whereas PHI125 is mainly about killing}. What is death? What happens to us when we die? Could there be an afterlife? Would it be a good thing if there were? What is it about death that we dislike so much, or that makes it bad? Is it rational, or even possible to fear death? What is the right attitude towards our own death? Do we have moral duties towards the dead? The course will clarify these questions and attempt to answer them. Readings will be taken from both historical and contemporary sources.

10 credits
LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Trans*) Studies

This module introduces students to study of gender and sexuality, and LGBT* stories, both historical and contemporary. We examine history of gender & sexuality in literature and their academic study, including definitions and queer theory, data on gender and sexual diversity in our society, LGBT* representation in media, and popular culture, as well as contemporary issues and inequality affecting sexual minorities in our society and in different global contexts. The module is team taught by experts in different departments at the University of Sheffield, who will introduce students to a wide range of theoretical and methodological perspectives, such as history, literature, social sciences, psychology, cultural studies, philosophy, and critical study of religion. The module is assessed by a creative coursework portfolio which allows students to examine different topics on the syllabus.

10 credits


The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research; funding changes; professional accreditation requirements; student or employer feedback; outcomes of reviews; and variations in staff or student numbers. In the event of any change we'll consult and inform students in good time and take reasonable steps to minimise disruption.

Learning and assessment

Learning

We pride ourselves on the diversity of our modules and the high quality of our teaching. Modules in philosophy focus on central philosophical issues and thinkers, and are taught through lectures, discussion seminars and online learning, as well as individual essay tutorials in the third year.

We invest to create the right environment for you. That means outstanding facilities, study spaces and support, including 24/7 online access to our online library service.

Study spaces and computers are available to offer you choice and flexibility for your study. Our five library sites give you access to over 1.3 million books and periodicals. You can access your library account and our rich digital collections from anywhere on or off campus. Other library services include study skills training to improve your grades, and tailored advice from experts in your subject.

Learning support facilities and library opening hours

Our staff are among the best in the world at what they do. They're active researchers so your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting. We'll teach you how to think carefully, analytically and creatively.

Assessment

Assessment is normally through a combination of coursework essays and exams, with long essay options available instead of exams. We also help you to develop your career skills through different types of assessment.

You can choose modules where you will learn to create portfolios, design academic posters or Philosophical websites, do ethnography, or more creative 'unessay' projects, like photography, or creative art.

Some of our assessment encourages personal reflection which contributes to both academic and personal development. Diverse forms of assessment are great for upskilling yourself ready for any career, but it will also make your learning experience much more varied and fun!

Programme specification

This tells you the aims and learning outcomes of this course and how these will be achieved and assessed.

Find programme specification for this course

Entry requirements

With Access Sheffield, you could qualify for additional consideration or an alternative offer - find out if you're eligible

Standard offer
Access Sheffield offer

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
ABB

The A Level entry requirements for this course are:
BBB

A Levels + additional qualifications | BBB + B in a relevant EPQ BBB + B in a relevant EPQ

International Baccalaureate | 33 32

BTEC | DDD in a relevant subject DDM in a relevant subject

Scottish Highers | AAABB AABBB

Welsh Baccalaureate + 2 A Levels | B + AB B + BB

Access to HE Diploma | 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with Distinctions in 30 Level 3 credits and Merits in 15 Level 3 credits 60 credits overall in a relevant subject with Distinctions in 24 Level 3 credits and Merits in 21 Level 3 credits

Mature students - explore other routes for mature students

English language requirements

You must demonstrate that your English is good enough for you to successfully complete your course. For this course we require: GCSE English Language at grade 4/C; IELTS grade of 6.0 with a minimum of 5.5 in each component; or an alternative acceptable English language qualification

Equivalent English language qualifications

Visa and immigration requirements

We also accept a range of other UK qualifications and other EU/international qualifications.

If you have any questions about entry requirements, please contact the department.

Department of Philosophy

We pride ourselves on the diversity of our modules and the high quality of our teaching. Our staff are among the best in the world at what they do. They're active researchers so your lectures and seminars are informed, relevant and exciting. We'll teach you how to think carefully, analytically and creatively.

Our staff and students use philosophy to engage with real world issues. You will be able to use what you learn to make a difference in the community, through projects like Philosophy in the City, an innovative and award-winning programme that enables students to teach philosophy in schools, homeless shelters and centres for the elderly.

Our students run a thriving Philosophy Society and the only UK undergraduate philosophy journal. Our Centre for Engaged Philosophy pursues research into questions of fundamental political and social importance, from criminal justice and social inclusion to climate ethics, all topics that are covered in our teaching.

Philosophy changes our perspective on the world, and equips and motivates us to make a difference.

The Department of Philosophy is based at 45 Victoria Street at the heart of the University campus. We're close to the Diamond and the Information Commons, as well as Jessop West, which houses our fellow Arts & Humanities departments of History, English and Languages & Cultures.

Department of Philosophy

Why choose Sheffield?

The University of Sheffield

  A Top 100 university 2021
QS World University Rankings

  Top 10% of all UK universities
Research Excellence Framework 2014

  No 1 Students' Union in the UK
Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2019, 2018, 2017

  No 1 in the north for graduate employment
The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020


Department of Philosophy

96% overall student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019

3rd in the Russell Group for student satisfaction

National Student Survey 2019


Graduate careers

Department of Philosophy

Studying philosophy will develop your ability to analyse and state a case clearly, evaluate arguments and be precise in your thinking. These skills will put you in a strong position when it comes to finding employment or going on to further study.

Our graduates work in teaching, law, social work, computing, the civil service, journalism, paid charity work, business, insurance and accountancy. Many also go on to study philosophy at postgraduate level.

Valentine Kozin, BA Philosophy.

"There is a very direct connection between the analytical approaches of philosophy and working with computer software."

Valentine Kozin BA Philosophy

Valentine is a technical artist for Rare, a video game production studio working with Microsoft.

Placement and study abroad

You can incorporate work experience and/or study abroad in your degree. With our third year Work Place Learning module, you can spend time with an organisation from the Sheffield voluntary or private sector gaining skills and experience relevant to philosophy in an applied setting. Through the University's Degree with Employment Experience scheme you can incorporate a placement year into your degree.

You can study abroad for a semester or a full year as part of your three-year degree, Or you can study abroad for an additional year between your second-year in Sheffield and your final year of study, leading to a BA 'with international experience'.

We have partnerships with many countries including Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States, Spain, Italy and Germany.

Fees and funding

Fees

Additional costs

The annual fee for your course includes a number of items in addition to your tuition. If an item or activity is classed as a compulsory element for your course, it will normally be included in your tuition fee. There are also other costs which you may need to consider.

Examples of what’s included and excluded

Funding your study

Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for a bursary, scholarship or loan to help fund your study and enhance your learning experience.

Use our Student Funding Calculator to work out what you're eligible for.

Visit us

University open days

There are four open days every year, usually in June, July, September and October. You can talk to staff and students, tour the campus and see inside the accommodation.

Open days: book your place

Taster days

At various times in the year we run online taster sessions to help Year 12 students experience what it is like to study at the University of Sheffield.

Upcoming taster sessions

Applicant days

If you've received an offer to study with us, we'll invite you to one of our applicant days, which take place between November and April. These applicant days have a strong department focus and give you the chance to really explore student life here, even if you've visited us before.

Campus tours

Campus tours run regularly throughout the year, at 1pm every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Book your place on a campus tour

Apply for this course

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How to apply When you're ready to apply, see the UCAS website:
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    2021-2022