The BPhil is an intellectually demanding postgraduate course, presupposing an undergraduate and/or graduate background in philosophy (or equivalent). It is not 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 as a basis for teaching a range of philosophical subjects and requires sustained and focused work over two years.
For information on how to make an application please see our Admissions Procedure and Entry Requirements webpage.
Candidates admitted for the BPhil are taught through a combination of classes and one-to-one supervisions. Each candidate will be required to submit six 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 is published at the beginning of each year and may 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: Epistemology; Logic and Philosophy of Logic; Metaphysics; Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Mathematics; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Physics; Philosophy of Probability and Decision Theory; Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science; Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Science.
Group 2: Aesthetics; Meta-Ethics; Normative and Applied Ethics; Philosophy of Law; Political Philosophy.
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 submit 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 normally receive one-to-one supervision on two chosen subjects: two supervisions per term, four supervisions per subject in total. A 'Pro-seminar' is normally held in the first 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 classes on offer. Students are expected to attend two graduate classes per term (not including the Pro-seminar) during the first four terms of study.
Students will be assessed continuously over the first four terms of study, with two essays due for submission at the beginning of the third, fourth and fifth term. 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 (four in total).
To be awarded the BPhil degree, students must achieve (i) a passing mark in six 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. A mark of 70 or more signifies distinction level for essays and thesis. Details of arrangements for the resubmission of failed work will be set out in the Graduate Student Handbook.