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Why study Philosophy at Christ's?

Students walking in second court
In Second Court (there's a College map here)

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, including the course film. You will also find information on the Faculty of Philosophy degree page . If you have further questions about course content, please contact phil-admin@lists.cam.ac.uk

 

Teaching

A guide to supervisions
Click here to watch the supervisions film (3.5 mins)

You attend lectures plus some classes at the Faculty of Philosophy (a 17 minute walk / 5 minute cycle from Christ's) 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 who is a specialist in ancient philosophy.

 

What do our students think?

Student Q&A film
  Watch the Christ's student Q&A film

Read about the experiences of Nina and Imogen, who both wrote about their first year studying Philosophy at Christ's in their Student Profiles.

If you’d like to hear from other Christ's students, please watch the Christ's student Q&A film, and visit our Student Profiles page.

 

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.

News
  • If you are considering an application in October 2024 for October 2025 (or deferred Oct 26) entry, we recommend that you sign up for the next College Open Day, which will include a Philosophy subject meeting.
  • If you are invited for interview, we will also ask you to do an Assessment for Philosophy remotely on a set date in late November. You do not need to register for this. Further information below. 


Subjects: what do you need?

Student in supervisionWe 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.

We encourage students to attend one of our regular Subject Matters webinars for help with choosing Post-16 subjects for competitive university applications. This webinar is pitched for students aged 14-16 though it is also possible to attend when you have started sixth form. 

Interviews

If we invite you for interviews, these usually take place in early December. At Christ's we continue do all of our interviews online, as we have done for the last three years. You can have your interviews either at home (most applicants do this) or at school (if easier). Those invited for interviews are normally interviewed for 35-50 minutes in total. At Christ’s, we usually split the time into two interviews with academics in Philosophy.

Further, more general information about interviews (including two useful films) is available in the Cambridge interviews section, and it's worth also having a look at supervisions (short film here), as interviews are similar to what you do every week as a Cambridge student.

Written Assessment (College registered)

If you are selected for interview, you will be asked to take a written assessment remotely on a set date in late November (last year's assessment date is 27 November 2023). You don't need to register, as we will organise this for you automatically. You complete the assessment remotely and upload your work - you will not need to travel for it. Details of how the assessment will work are given to students selected for interview by email.

Information about the format and content of the Philosophy Admissions Assessment is available in the  Undergraduate Philosophy course information. See the entry requirements tab. There are sometimes changes to assessments from year to year - any changes are confirmed by the July before you apply.

Offers

Student in Library
The Working Library, open 24/7

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

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

You can look up other qualifications in the offer levels for other exam systems and international entry requirements, and if you are applying from outside the UK please read the Christ's international students section for further information and check the country pages.

If you will have finished school when you apply, please also read about post-qualification applications, taking a gap year, and, if relevant, applying from a university.

 

Helpful resources

Would you like to receive these resources in an email? Please complete this brief form.

Reading listSuggestions to help you to develop your interest in Philosophy
15 Minute Masterclasses The Royal Institute of Philosophy have produced a number of 15 minute long videos on a range of topics in the field, matched to the A-Level syllabus. YouTube playlist here.
Online taster lecturesWanting and Liking: Lessons from addiction
Free Speech and Media Ethics
Free will and Neuroscience
Philosophy and the self
Ask PhilosophersProfessional philosophers do their best to answer philosophical questions from the public
Philosophy BitesPodcasts featuring top philosophers discussing bite-sized topics
The History of PhilosophyThe History of Philosophy: without any gaps is a series of podcasts by Peter Adamson.
Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyThe Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy organizes scholars from around the world in philosophy and related disciplines to create and maintain an up-to-date reference work. May be useful for Extended Projects or Essays, as well as general interest.
Essay competitionsEntering 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; Newnham Essay Prizes
HE+ PhilosophyWebsite for secondary school students who would like to explore Philosophy
The Philosophers’ ArmsA series of podcasts by Matthew Sweet
Learn more about LogicLogic: The Language of Truth - free online introductory course from University of York
If you're studying Maths in sixth formThe Advanced Maths Support Programme has resources to support transition from GCSE to A level maths and resources for A level maths. See also the NRICH resources: Post-16 homepage; podcasts, Plus Magazine (which has particles on logic, for example) and Maths at Home. You may also find these A level notes helpful.
If you're not studying maths in sixth formWhy not get stuck into some logic problems? If you enjoy these, you'll enjoy Philosophy. Try Puzzler's Logic Problems Magazine (normally available in WH Smith in the UK) or similar!
CamGuidesIntroducing the academic and information skills that you will need during your studies, as well as how and where you would be working

 

Open days and online events

Students in a meeting roomOur open days and events page advertises regular online opportunities as well as events you can attend in Cambridge. If you can, sign up for a College Open Day (our October, February and September events normally include a meeting with a subject specialist). Between February and August we run regular webinars:

  • Subject Matters: The importance of post-16 subject choices (this one is also run Sept - Nov)
  • Cambridge for Beginners
  • Christ's College: A look at the Grounds and Facilities
  • Personal Statements and preparing for an application

Further subject-specific opportunities you might wish to consider include Subject Masterclasses organised by Cambridge Admissions Office, and subject-specific talks in the July Cambridge Open Days. If you are a UK student from a background where there is little tradition of entry to Higher Education, you can apply to attend a Sutton Trust Summer School in Philosophy or to shadow a current undergraduate studying Philosophy via the Cambridge SU Shadowing Scheme (do be aware that there's a high proportion of applicants to places for both of these last two opportunities so please don't be discouraged if you don't get a place).

 

Want to know more?

Finch
Finch. See Christ's Cats

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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