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The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Jessica England BA Philosophy and History

Masters Degree in Heritage Management at Queen Mary University of London

Jessica England's Photo

Why did you choose to come and study at Southampton?

I chose to study at Southampton based on the good impression I had of the University from coming to visit, and it’s excellent reputation.

When I visited the campus it struck me that students who came to Southampton were ‘like me’- they were genuinely interested in their subjects and keen to get involved in all sorts of projects and activities. I wanted to study somewhere that I knew I would find likeminded people, and I was excited at the prospect of having classmates who genuinely wanted to learn new things.

I also knew that Southampton had an excellent reputation, as a Russell Group University and a regular feature in the UK Top 20. This told me that the standard of teaching would be high and that I’d be really challenged by the content of my lectures. I knew that attending a well-respected University would be attractive to my future employers.

Overall, I just had a gut-feeling that Southampton was the place that I’d be the happiest for the next three years of my life, and I was absolutely right.

The lecturers in the Philosophy department really are something special. They’re incredibly supportive and down to earth, while also being leading experts in their fields. There is a strong sense of community among the department, supported by staff-student events like the popular biannual pub quiz, and the relationships you build in small-group discussion seminars.

What is it like studying here?

Southampton is a really great place to be a student. The city centre is vibrant and full of life at all hours of the day, while the area around Highfield campus is leafy green and feels very safe. 

For Philosophy students, your time is split between Highfield Campus- home of the Student’s Union, the gym, and the main University bus station, and Avenue Campus- a beautiful little campus just a five minute walk away.

Avenue Campus has a real community feel to it. It is dedicated to the study of Humanities subjects and features a picturesque courtyard, lots of bright and airy seminar rooms, and its own subject-specific library. You’ll find yourself stopping to chat with lecturers and classmates alike as you stroll around the main building, and enjoying study breaks across the road on Southampton Common.

There is a rich, vibrant and diverse student community at Southampton. People from all over the world come to study here, which presents a fantastic opportunity to learn about other cultures and try lots of new things. There are always opportunities to learn about different religious festivals, try new foods, and mingle with people that you might otherwise have never met. You’ll leave University with friends from across the globe, and lots of really unique memories.

What have been your Southampton ‘highlights’ (best experiences) so far?

My time at Southampton has been full of highlights, so it’s hard to pinpoint just a few!

In my second year I was elected the Vice-President of the Philosophy Society, which was an amazing opportunity to get to know students from other years. We held debates, student-staff pub quizzes, and a fair few themed nights out! The Philosophy society also organises talks from academics at other Universities, and usually hosts a trip abroad during the Easter break that is open to all members. In my first year we went on a trip to Amsterdam, where I got to know people from other years and really cemented my University friendships. I genuinely felt like I was part of a community within Philosophy at Southampton.

Another Southampton highlight for me was working on my final year dissertation. Although it seems very daunting when you first begin, it is really satisfying to look back at your research and realise that you’ve become quite an expert in a niche area of your subject. Lecturers always seem to go out of their way to support final year students with their research and writing, and you get the unique experience of teaching them something new on occasion! It’s a bit of a tradition in the Humanities School at Southampton to pose for a photo outside Avenue Campus with your completed dissertation on your way to hand it in, which is definitely a memorable moment!

What did you enjoy most about your course?

The thing that most stood out to me about studying Philosophy at Southampton, that I now realise I wouldn’t have necessarily experienced elsewhere, is that your lecturers are world-renowned experts in their fields. I hugely enjoyed the opportunity to discuss cutting edge philosophical theories with the people who developed them. It was also really special to hear personal anecdotes from my lecturers about some of the ‘famous philosophers’ we studied, who sometimes turn out to be their fond acquaintances! 

Did you have the opportunity to study modules outside of your core subject area?

As a joint honours student my course was a mixture of modules from both Philosophy and my other subject, but I also took the opportunity to study a Politics module in my second year.

The module, ‘Political Thinkers’, was all about political philosophers like Karl Marx and John Locke, so it complimented my philosophy modules really well. Lots of other philosophy students chose to take the module so there were plenty of friendly faces in my lectures and seminars. It really built my confidence to discover that I was capable of handling a degree level module in a subject I hadn’t previously studied, thanks to the skills I’d learned so far in my course. I had the opportunity to learn from experts who I might not have otherwise encountered, including a few big names in political philosophy, and it was a really great addition to my course. 

What is the city of Southampton like to live in?

Southampton is a fantastic city to be a student in. Almost everywhere you’d need to go is served by the U1C bus route, which travels between the airport, the campus, and the city centre.

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