Philosophy

Philosophy appeals to critical thinkers from both sides of the arts/science divide. Do you enjoy thinking about deep, general questions? Are you keen to explore your ideas with others in a constructive, critical way? If you’re open to uncertainty, disagreements and discussions (some lasting thousands of years) you’ll find this a uniquely satisfying subject.

 

Why study Philosophy at Christ's?

Philosophy is a rewarding subject to study and Christ’s is an academically strong place to study it. That strength comes from our staff, who encourage your real interest in the subject rather than pressuring you to perform. You set your own priorities, we provide a friendly and stimulating intellectual environment in which to pursue them.

The way we teach Philosophy here at Christ’s and Cambridge has earned this degree a valuable reputation among employers. By learning to apply rigour to unclear or messy topics, you develop a desirable set of intellectual skills which successfully transfer to careers in areas such as law (via a conversion course), civil service, business, journalism and politics.
 

Course content

The Philosophy course (or ‘tripos’) is a three-year degree. Please visit the University website for full details of the Philosophy course content and structure.

 

Teaching

You attend lectures plus some classes at the Faculty of Philosophy and have weekly ‘supervisions’ here in College. These small-group (or one-to-one) tutorial sessions are arranged by your Director of Studies and give you the advantage of personally-tailored guidance and tuition from an experienced supervisor.

Christ’s Director of Studies for Philosophy is Professor Gábor Betegh, a specialist in ancient philosophy.

 

What do our students think?

Read about the experience of Imogen who is studying Philosophy here at Christ’s. If you’d like to hear from other Christ's students, please visit our Student Profiles page.

"Throughout the year we went through logic in small stages with a class to go over the worksheets that we’d been given every two weeks. This made logic a lot less daunting. It was actually easier to pick up than I thought it would be."

Imogen

How to apply

Visit How to Apply for full details and a timeline of the application process. We welcome applicants from all backgrounds and school types, all over the world. If you're applying from outside the UK, please read our international students section.

Subjects: what do you need?

We don’t expect you to take any subjects in particular. However, when choosing your post-16 subjects, it can be helpful to take one or more essay-based subjects, and a mixture of arts and Maths/Science subjects. Mathematics provides useful preparation for Philosophy.

Written work

After we receive your application, we ask you to send us one essay you feel accurately reflects your abilities and interests. This should be work written during the normal course of your studies and already marked by a teacher. We recommend you keep a copy for your own reference, as we may discuss it at interview.

We publish full guidelines on written work in the Current Applicants section on 20 September each year.

Interviews

If we invite you for interview in Cambridge, you will have two interviews at Christ’s in early December.

For an idea of what to expect, please read the information and watch the short films on Cambridge admissions interviews. We also hold interviews in various locations overseas for international students.

Admissions Assessment

If we call you for interview, we ask you to take a written Admissions Assessment. For interviews in Cambridge, this is usually on the same day. We arrange your assessment automatically automatically so you don’t need to register. You do the same assessment regardless of which college you apply to. For students who are interviewed overseas, the Admissions Assessment will be organised for you by the overseas interview team, who will send you details.

The Philosophy Admissions Assessment lasts one hour and you don’t need to have any prior knowledge or do any special preparation to sit it.

Read more about the assessment, including sample papers and subject content, on the University Admissions website (available from March each year).

Offers

At Christ's we don’t have fixed quotas for places, so the number of students we admit in any year depends on the strengths of the applicants, regardless of their background. In Philosophy we aim to admit at least two students annually. In recent years our acceptance ratio has been between 2:1 and 3:1.

We define the terms of each offer individually, but the typical conditional offer for Philosophy is:

  • A*AA at A-level
  • 42 points overall in the IB with 7,7,6 in relevant Higher Level subjects
  • H1/H1/H1/H2/H2/H2 for Higher Level subjects in Irish Leaving Certificate
  • AAA in Scottish Advanced Highers

If you’re taking another qualification, we expect you to be working at or close to the top of the mark range i.e.

  • Option Internationale du Baccalauréat: at least 17/20 overall, with 17 or 18 in relevant subjects
  • European Baccalaureate: at least 85% overall, with 9/10 in relevant subjects

Read about offer levels in other exam systems and international entrance requirements.

If you will have finished school when you apply, please read about post-qualification applications.

 

Helpful resources

Reading list for prospective Philosophy students Suggestions to help you to develop your interest in Philosophy
Ask Philosophers Professional philosophers do their best to answer philosophical questions from the public
Philosophy Bites Podcasts featuring top philosophers discussing bite-sized topics
Coming soon: HE+ Philosophy Enrichment resources if you’d like to explore the subject beyond the school curriculum
Essay competitions

Entering an essay competition is a good way to explore a relevant question and get some extra practice in writing a convincing and well-structured essay. Examples: Sheffield Philosophy PrizeLloyd Davies Philosophy Prize; Trinity Philosophy Prize; Edgar Jones Philosophy competition; Newnham Essay Prizes

CamGuides Introducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you be working.

 

Come to an open day

If you can make it along to a College Open Day, you can look around the College and find out more about the Philosophy course in person.

 

Want to know more?

For more detail of what the course involves, take a look at Undergraduate Philosophy admissions on the University website, and read the Faculty of Philosophy information for prospective students too.

If you have any other queries, please send them to admissions@christs.cam.ac.uk and we’ll help however we can.
 

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