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PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Matthew Humphreys BA Philosophy, 2013

Training Contract with a leading international law firm

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Hi, I'm Matthew Humphreys and I studied BA Philosophy within Philosophy at the University of Southampton.

Previous work experience in commercial law firms has demonstrated to me that Philosophy offers an array of skills that are pertinent to a career in law. Critical analysis is crucial when interpreting the law and determining how it can be applied to the facts of a scenario.


What did you enjoy about the course?

Philosophy at Southampton allows for a great degree of flexibility in module choice, allowing student to pursue topics ranging from broader disciplines such as logic and ethics, to closer study of individual philosophers, such as Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. I particularly enjoyed studying logic, a subject which is crucial in forming the toolkit that philosophers rely on to analyse and evaluate arguments. I found the study of metalogic intellectually stimulating and appreciated having an understanding of the implications many proofs had on the development of logic and mathematics over the centuries. Furthermore, the course offered me the opportunity to explore different areas of Philosophy of Mind, such as the phenomenon of consciousness; a subject that had always fascinated me and one that would eventually become the focus of my dissertation.

What is Southampton like as a place to study?

Southampton is a wonderful place to study, particular for humanities students who have not only the benefit of the Main Campus, but also of the more traditional Avenue Campus where the faculty is located. I have found the teaching quality to be excellent, in large part fuelled by lecturers who are prominent in their respective fields and show a great enthusiasm to instil this interest in their students. Support is always available when required, and additional ‘discussion hours’ in Philosophy allow for questions of interest to be raised in an informal setting, with an opportunity for communal contribution.

Tell us about your current job

I have recently secured a training contract with a leading international law firm, which offers a wide array of legal services to high profile commercial entities. The training contract includes financial support throughout my legal studies, followed by two years as a trainee in the firm with the opportunity to work in an overseas office, such as New York or Singapore.

How did your course help you in your current role?

Whilst my employment does not commence until 2015, previous work experience in commercial law firms has demonstrated to me that Philosophy offers an array of skills that are pertinent to a career in law. Critical analysis is crucial when interpreting the law and determining how it can be applied to the facts of a scenario. In addition, the process of discussing philosophical arguments in the form of essays develops an ability to take complex ideas and break them down into a form that can be understood by an individual not accustomed with the subject. This ability is significantly useful to a solicitor, who often has to provide a summary of a legal position to a client not trained in legal method.

What advice would you give to a student starting their degree at Southampton?

I would advise new students to take advantage of the huge array of opportunities, both academic and extra-curricular, open to you at the University. From the outset, ensure that you balance your free time and study time adequately so that you achieve the best possible outcome, whilst fully embracing university life. Succeeding in doing this should put you in the optimum position to achieve your future career ambitions.

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