Church Roofs
Printer Friendly Version

BPhil in Philosophy

The BPhil is an intellectually demanding course, presupposing an undergraduate and/or graduate background in philosophy (or equivalent). It is not in general suitable as a conversion course for students changing to philosophy from another subject and it cannot be studied part-time or externally. It is regarded both as training for the DPhil and a basis for teaching a range of philosophical subjects and requires sustained and focused work over two years.

Candidates admitted for the BPhil will be taught through a combination of classes and one-to-one supervisions. Each candidate will be required to submit seven assessed essays (of no more than 5,000 words each) across at least five subjects (with no more than two essays on any one subject), together with a thesis of up to 30,000 words.

The assessed essays must be chosen from three broad subject Groups: one essay must be on a subject from Group 1 (“Theoretical Philosophy”), one on a subject from Group 2 (“Practical Philosophy”), and two on a subject or subjects from Group 3 (“History of Philosophy”), of which at least one must be concerned with philosophy written before 1800. The precise list of subjects in the three groups will be published at the beginning of each year and will be tailored to the particular strengths of the Faculty members who will be teaching that year, but a typical list might be as follows:

Group 1: Metaphysics; Epistemology; Logic and Philosophy of Logic; Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Probability and Decision Theory ; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mathematics; Philosophy of Physics; Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science.

Group 2: Ethics; Political Philosophy; Aesthetics.

Group 3: Ancient Philosophy; Medieval Philosophy; Early Modern Philosophy; History of Philosophy from 1800 to 1950.

There will be provision for candidates to apply to offer up to two essays on at most one subject not included in the list of approved subjects.

During their first four terms of study, students will be offered four one-to-one supervisions on each of two of their chosen subjects: two supervisions per term. A “Pro-seminar” is held in Michaelmas Term and Hilary Term of the first year and covers classic papers in theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy. In every term, there will also be a wide range of specialised graduate seminars on offer. Students are expected to attend a specified number of graduate classes per term (not including the Pro-seminar).

Students’ essays will be assessed continuously over the first four terms of study, with one essay submitted at the beginning of the second term, and two essays submitted at the beginning of each of the following three terms. The thesis is submitted at the end of the sixth (and final) term. Students will be allocated a thesis supervisor, and can expect to receive two one-to-one supervisions on their thesis in each of their final two terms of study.

To be awarded the BPhil degree, students must achieve (i) a passing mark in seven essays, which collectively must meet the distribution requirement described above; and (ii) a passing mark in the thesis. The lowest passing mark for the essays and the thesis is 60. Details of arrangements for the resubmission of failed work will be set out in the Course Handbook.

Candidates who achieve a distinction on the BPhil in Philosophy are automatically admitted to the DPhil, provided only that the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee is satisfied that their proposed thesis topic and outline indicates that they can be adequately supervised by members of the Philosophy Faculty. Candidates who pass the BPhil without a distinction will be admitted to the DPhil at the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee’s discretion. To achieve a distinction, students must obtain an average of 70 or above on the 6 highest marks for the essays, with no essay mark falling below 65 and a mark of 70 or above on the thesis.

Detailed information on the course can be found in the course's Programme Specification.

Ancient Philosophy Track in the BPhil

Oxford is widely acknowledged to contain one of the leading groups, arguably the leading group, of ancient philosophers in the world; ancient philosophy at Oxford is ranked top in the Philosophical Gourmet Report’s breakdown of programmes by speciality.

Students interested in Ancient Philosophy in particular might wish to note the possibility of an ‘Ancient Philosophy track’ in the BPhil in Philosophy, Oxford's flagship (two-year) philosophy graduate taught masters course. This is not a separate degree, but a way of studying Ancient Philosophy within the existing BPhil structure. A student on such a track would write two essays on Ancient Philosophy in Group 3. They would also tailor some of their chosen topics for Groups 1 and 2 appropriately, writing essays on, say, some aspect of Platonic metaphysics or Stoic ethics. Four (only) of the seven assessed essays would be written on topics related to Ancient Philosophy, and the thesis would be written on some aspect of Ancient Philosophy.

Those applying for the Ancient Philosophy track should state their intention clearly when applying.

We are now offering one fully-funded place for the Ancient Philosophy track in the BPhil, the Jowett BPhil Scholarship, for which all Ancient Philosophy track applicants will be eligible, in addition to being eligible for the usual funding. See the Philosophy Graduate Funding webpage.

Philosophy of Physics Track in the BPhil

Students interested in Philosophy of Physics might also wish to note the possibility of a ‘Philosophy of Physics track’ in the BPhil in Philosophy, Oxford's flagship (two-year) philosophy graduate taught masters course. This is not a separate course, but a way of studying Philosophy of Physics within the existing BPhil structure. A student on such a track would study primarily philosophy of physics and philosophy of science in the first two terms, study more general philosophical topics in the third and fourth term, and write a 30,000-word thesis on philosophy of physics or philosophy of science in the final two terms. Applicants for the BPhil are normally expected to have studied philosophy at undergraduate level, but the Philosophy of Physics track is also suitable for students with a very strong physics background who wish to move into the philosophy of physics or science, as an alternative to the MSt in Philosophy of Physics.

Those applying for the Philosophy of Physics track should state their intention clearly when applying.

For more information about the BPhil, see the BPhil in Philosophy Programme Specification.


The application cycle for October 2014 entry is now CLOSED (deadline for receipt of complete applications was midnight on Friday 10 January 2014). The application cycle for October 2015 entry will open in September 2014 with an application deadline in early January 2015 (deadline to be confirmed) and an Open Day for all October 2015 offer holders in early March 2015.

The online application form and other application information are available from the Applying for Graduate Study website.

For an application to be considered, it needs to be complete with all required supporting documents and be received by the Graduate Admissions and Funding Office by the specified deadline.

The Graduate Admissions and Funding contact details are:

Graduate Admissions Office
University Offices
Wellington Square
Oxford OX1 2JD
Tel: +44 (0) 1865 270059
Fax: +44 (0) 1865 270049

International applicants should take into account the English Language Test Requirements for admissions to graduate courses at the University of Oxford, as well as the visa advice, available on the University’s International Student webpages.

Admissions Criteria

For a detailed description of the admissions criteria, please check the respective Graduate Admissions Criteria document below.


If you have any further questions about the BPhil in Philosophy, please contact:

Academic Administrator for Graduate Studies
Faculty of Philosophy
Radcliffe Humanities
Woodstock Road
Oxford, OX2 6GG

Tel: + 44 1865 276933
Fax: + 44 1865 276932

Tell a Friend