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Overview

About the Department of Philosophy

At the University of Southampton, philosophy teaching is informed by a wide range of research interests spanning diverse philosophical traditions. We emphasise small group and one-on-one tuition, which we provide from the first year of study, and we pride ourselves on the broad and flexible curriculum we offer. 
 

In recent years we’ve introduced new modules on: 

  • Islamic philosophy
  • classical Indian philosophy
  • the ethics of climate change
  • the philosophy of AI
  • ideology and propaganda

Our world-leading research saw us ranked 6th in the UK in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. Our research focuses on areas including ethics, the history of philosophy, epistemology, aesthetics, political and legal philosophy, and language, logic and metaphysics. 

In addition, our philosophers pursue research in philosophy of action, philosophy of AI, social philosophy, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science and philosophy of sex.

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Our research

The quality of our department’s research is world leading. In 2021 the Research Excellence Framework ranked our department sixth best in the UK for research in philosophy, looking at research outputs, impact and environment. Our research was judged best in the UK for its impact.

Our researchers benefit from a supportive and inclusive environment that encourages open collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines, both within the University and at other institutions.

Our research largely falls within 7 themes.

Analytic aesthetics and the history of aesthetics

This includes the philosophy of music, the philosophy of fiction, the ontology of art, and the history of aesthetics with particular reference to Cavendish, Hume, Kant, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Collingwood.

Ethics

Examples of current research include:

  • the nature of reasons
  • value and normativity
  • the doing/allowing distinction
  • the non-identity problem
  • philosophical issues associated with sex and pregnancy

Epistemology

We explore fundamental questions in epistemology concerning the nature of knowledge, the challenge of scepticism, and the scope of self-knowledge. We have a particular interest in:

  • epistemic normativity
  • epistemic value
  • the aims and norms of belief and assertion
  • doxastic voluntarism and responsibility

History of philosophy

We specialise in the work of Cavendish, Kant, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger. We also have research interests in ancient Greek, classical Indian, and modern western philosophy.

Language, logic and metaphysics

Some examples of our wide range of research interests in this area include: 

  • linguistic normativity
  • the logic and semantics of conditionals
  • meta-ontology
  • the metaphysics of art
  • fictional characters, empty names and nonexistence
  • the metaphysics of persons and pregnancy

Political and legal philosophy

This area of research spans both analytic and continental traditions of philosophy. Our researchers in this theme have strong expertise in Western political thought, with particular emphasis on:

  • ancient Greek political philosophy
  • European political philosophy from the 16th to the 21st century
  • American political thought

Wittgenstein and early analytic philosophy

We have research strengths in all areas of Wittgenstein's thought, and in other early analytic philosophers, including Frege, Langer, McDonald, Russell, and Wrinch.

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Our teaching

Students in philosophy have consistently ranked our teaching as exceptional. 

In the 2023 National Student Survey, 94.2% of students were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of our teaching, and 90.3% were satisfied or very satisfied with the quality of feedback and assessment. This makes us the fifth best philosophy department in the UK for quality of teaching, and the best for quality of feedback and assessment, according to The Guardian University Guide 2024.

Our academic staff bring a broad range of research interests to their teaching. Our curriculum includes Heidegger, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard and other traditional focal points. In recent years we’ve also taught modules addressing topics such as: 


  • Islamic philosophy
  • classical Indian philosophy
  • ideology and propaganda
  • the ethics of climate change
  • the philosophy of artificial intelligence

More information for students can be found on the philosophy subject page.

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Equality, diversity and inclusion

Philosophy at Southampton has signed up to recommendations designed to improve equality and diversity in philosophy, and to promote the representation of women in philosophy at all levels.

Our commitment to this British Philosophical Society (BPA) and Society for Women in Philosophy UK (SWIP)’s good practice scheme is also reflected in our teaching. We ensure that all our reading lists feature contributions from women and philosophers of diverse backgrounds. 

It’s also demonstrated in our research activities, where, for example, we aim to promote inclusivity by following the BPA/SWIP seminar chairing policy recommendations. 

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Our courses

Research and outreach

Find out about everything we do, from research projects to schools outreach and lifelong learning. Discover our impact on the world.

Our research community

Our research centres bring together specialists to share knowledge and solve problems.

People

Our research and teaching explore profound and fundamental issues, from ancient questions of knowledge, happiness and values, to pressing contemporary challenges such as climate change and AI.
Head of Department

Work with us

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    Work with us

    From working on the front-line with students, to the cutting edge of research, find out about career options across the University. 

Contact us

Talk to us, we're happy to help

You can contact us through the Humanities Student Office or on campus:
Avenue Campus, Highfield Road, Southampton, Hampshire SO17 1BF
Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm UK time
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