Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
PhilosophyPart of Humanities

Philosophy programme structure and detail

On this page you can find detailed information about the BA Philosophy and combined honours programme structure, assessment and programme time allocation.

Combined honours and alternative subject

The Philosophy undergraduate programme is modular. In each year, students take eight single modules (or equivalent). Single-honours students take at least six modules in Philosophy. Combined Honours students take at least three modules in Philosophy and at least three in their other subject.

Single and combined honours students can opt to broaden the range of their studies by replacing up to two optional modules per year by an 'alternative' subject outside philosophy and, in the case of combined honours students, their other subject. We encourage you to take this opportunity to broaden your knowledge and skills. One of the main ways that our students have used this option in the past is to develop their language skills (either beginning a new language or taking a language further); the Centre for Language Study offers a variety of languages at a variety of levels.

The first year

We view the first year as a foundational year in which students acquire a grounding in key areas of philosophy while getting acquainted with the demands of studying philosophy at university level. All students take compulsory modules in Ethics and on Knowledge and Mind. In addition, they take a module titled Reason and Argument that aims to provide students with the skills in critical thinking, reasoning and logic essential to studies in philosophy. Single honours and some combined honours students also have the opportunity to take courses in Existentialism, Faith and Reason, Puzzles about Art, and Political Philosophy.

All modules are taught through a combination of lectures and informal discussion periods, which provide an opportunity for students to raise questions and debate the issues covered in lectures. In addition, all students attend regular tutorials which provide an opportunity for small-group discussions and individual guidance on essay writing.

The second year

In the second year, there is only one compulsory module which charts the rise of modern philosophy through the 17th and 18th centuries. Students choose further modules from a wide range of options in core areas of philosophy, such as Aesthetics, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, and Philosophy of Science.

Alongside lectures, students attend seminars in small groups.

The third year

In the third year, all modules in philosophy are optional. We offer a wide range of modules which introduce students to issues at the cutting edge of current philosophical research. In the final year, modules are typically a reflection of the staff's own research interests and expertise.

Single honours students also complete a dissertation on philosophy (which counts for two modules) on the topic of their choice, meeting regularly with an expert in the relevant area for one-on-one supervision. Combined honours students may choose whether to write a dissertation in philosophy or to complete an equivalent piece of work in their other subject.


Our assessment procedures play an integral role in the teaching and learning process, and are designed to assess your knowledge and understanding of the material studied, as well as your competence in key and discipline-specific skills. Students are assessed in a variety of ways, including on the basis of examinations, essays, individual and group presentations and textual commentaries. Employing a variety of different assessment methods in this way encourages students to develop a host of different skills.

Time allocation

Single honours students take eight single modules (or equivalent) each year. At least six of these modules must be in Philosophy and up to two can be in alternative subjects.

Combined honours students take eight single modules (or equivalent) each year. At least three of these modules must be in Philosophy and at least three must be in their other subject. Up to two modules can be taken in alternative subjects.

Privacy Settings