Subject Guide

Philosophy Degree

Uni Compare  · Dec 7th 2023

Philosophy is a broad subject area that has been known for centuries.

Philosophy in the dictionary

After completing a philosophy degree, you might be left asking yourself a lot of questions (philosophy joke alert!) about where to go next. Around a quarter of philosophy graduates continue on in education (see the section below, ‘What can I study after Philosophy?’ to get more information about a masters degree in philosophy or a doctor of philosophy degree), whilst the remaining 75% look for philosophy degree jobs.

Philosophy guide

What to do with a philosophy degree

Philosophy is almost the antithesis of a vocational degree, so while it equips you with some excellent skills (dissecting attitudes, evaluating and synthesising ideas, close reading, structuring an argument), it doesn’t directly kick down any doors for jobs with a philosophy degree, either. So if you’re wondering, ‘What can you do with a philosophy degree?’, start here, as we’re going to go through a cacophony of career choices that would benefit from you and the strengths you’ve developed in your politics and philosophy degree or your philosophy and psychology degree or your psychology and philosophy degree.

In the section below, we’re going to look at lots of career options. While you’re reading, if you like the sound of one of the philosophy degree careers, ask yourself how well suited it is. Does it match your interests? Are the hours demanding? How about location: can you work nearby or will you need to commute or relocate? What is the salary like, and does this suit your lifestyle? What contract type would you be likely to have: temporary, permanent, full-time, part-time, self employed…? All these factors are important to consider.

What can you do with a philosophy degree?

One of the closest things to a direct career path after a philosophy degree UK is the possibility of becoming a teacher. Secondary schools and further education colleges often offer philosophy, religious studies, and / or PSHE on their curricula and will even offer an online philosophy degree or a distance learning philosophy degree. You would need to earn a teaching qualification too, but this is just one year of postgraduate study and training, and typically comes with a training bursary.

Another close match for theologians would be a religious role, such as a chaplain. If you have a personal faith and want to share it with the world, there are roles in schools, hospitals and airports, offering an interesting and varied career experience.

The type of knowledge and skills developed during a politics and philosophy degree could make an ideal candidate for careers in public services, including politics, civil service, as a policy officer, health service manager, in the police force, or on a think tank.

Of course, your expertise in forming an argument (and unravelling others’) would be an asset to any barrister, solicitor or paralegal. A year’s conversion course in law would be your first step towards these degree in philosophy jobs. If you have a philosophy and psychology degree, a role as psychotherapist or counsellor is always in demand, and provides the opportunity for self-employment and the flexibility that affords.

The largest sector for philosophy graduates is actually business and finance, with 10-20% of philosophy majors entering this field. Consider becoming a recruitment consultant or stockbroker to make the most of your analytical skills.

It involves deep thinking, and tackles meaning-of-life style questions which relate to our existence, and what is considered is real. Candidates will be dealing with weighty issues such as knowledge, logic, morality, and thought itself.

Although philosophy may sound intense, or heavy-going, it at its basic level is the study of whether or not society can trust its reality. Students of philosophy will learn about some of the greatest thinkers of humankind, including their theories of values and reason.

Philosophy is derived from the Ancient Greek word ‘philosophia’ which translates to ‘love of wisdom’. It is a subject made from many sub-areas, which are divided by topic, style and age, and all of which rely on rational reason and debate (and you can search philosophy degree courses here).

A philosophy degree is ideal for those individuals that consider themselves to be active and profound thinkers, who also wish to learn how to think critically.

What A Levels do I need?

Philosophy degree requirements are dependent on the institution, as do most careers with philosophy degree; however, the majority of degree courses accept candidates with at least 180 UCAS tariff points. Students are advised to check with their chosen universities to ensure they understand what they need to gain admission to the course, which will also prepare them for the future when they start applying for careers with a philosophy degree.

You can also see our Philosophy personal statement examples to gain an insight into what you need for your personal statement.

What are my study options?

Philosophy can be divided into a number of sub-branches, which most of them will be covered during the three years of study. Research areas tend to include ethics – which deals with right and wrong – aesthetics – which focuses on expression and beauty, political philosophy – which is concerned with freedom and justice, and the history of philosophy, which explores how different studies and theories have developed over time.

Philosophy also features studies into other similar areas, and particular universities will offer candidates the chance to study a joint or combined degree course. Joint degrees can be found featuring English, art, law or history.

The degrees available in this subject area differ, but some examples include; Bachelors of Arts (BA) in biblical studies and philosophy, philosophy of a foreign language, philosophy and computer science or a BA philosophy single honours. We encourage students to research the course details, so they choose the right university and course for their own preferences.

Philosophy guide

What should I expect from studying Philosophy?

The first year students tend to take an array of modules to establish a foundation of the subject. Individuals will explore issues in philosophy, a close reading of texts, important thinkers, and attempt to answer questions regarding life and knowledge. Students will also study the areas of justice and freedom, which covered a broad range of philosophical approaches.

The two consecutive years tend to allow students to specialise their studying by letting them choose what modules they wish to study, enabling them to train in certain areas.

How will I be assessed?

Philosophy degrees are evaluated in a range of ways, from academic essays, exams and small seminar groups that encourage thinking, consideration and the discussion of complex topics.

What skills will I learn from studying Philosophy?

Individuals who have studied a philosophy degree or any of their offshoots, such as an economics and philosophy degree, have honed an array of vital skills, as they can speak and write clearly, express themselves well, think and analyse close texts, discuss perspectives critically, construct coherent arguments and argue in clear, persuasive writing.

Students who attend and especially for those who will move away to university gain numerous transferable skills that they can implement in many areas of life after graduation, from time-management and organisation skills from completing coursework by deadlines and social skills from group presentations and projects.

Why study Philosophy?

A philosophy degree is ideal for those individuals that consider themselves to be active and profound thinkers, who also wish to learn how to think critically. A degree in this subject teaches students how to write and analyse as well as how to communicate their ideas, which is highly sought after by companies and employers.

Philosophy is the perfect subject for those who enjoy discussions and debates, and who prefer smaller seminars than huge lectures. Candidates who study philosophy tend to be interested in addressing general questions, and concerns that affect society as a whole, or personal problems, individuals issues, themselves.

Other reasons to study this area is to improve one’s abilities in assessing claims, and understanding arguments in general, as well as presenting clear and compelling claims of one’s thoughts systematically.

As there is no clear career pathway available for philosophy students, it is a flexible degree choice, where graduates can enter business, academia, education, finance, law, medicine or journalism.

One of the closest things to a direct career path after a philosophy degree UK is the possibility of becoming a teacher.

What happens after I graduate?

Although there are no direct careers for the subject, philosophy doesn’t limit graduate options, and students can use their newfound skills to seek employment. There is also the option to continue studying and work towards a postgraduate qualification.

Will it help me get a job?

The skills that students learn, such as presentation, communication, research and problem-solving is ideal for an array of careers.

What types of jobs can I get from studying Philosophy?

There are lots of jobs with philosophy degree available.

Particular job areas include civil service, law, local and national government, teaching and lecturing, marketing, psychotherapy, journalism, HR, PR and recruitment.

There are also graduate schemes available, where students who have recently graduated can train and work at the same time.

What can I study after Philosophy?

An exciting range of Master’s degrees are as follows’ Master’s of Arts (MA) degrees are available for philosophy students, from aesthetics, modern European philosophy, art theory, ancient philosophy, history of philosophy and ethics of education.

Famous Philosophy studies alumni

Bruce Lee, the notorious martial arts master and actor, studied the subject extensively and used his studies to shape his acting and athletics.

Comedy king Ricky Gervais from Extras and The Office majored in philosophy when attending UCL, University College London.

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