Philosophy explores human thought, the basis of knowledge, the nature of reason, consciousness and cognition, as well as the foundations of value and political theory. Its questions are intriguing and its study requires complex critical thinking, rigorous analysis and consideration of new perspectives.
Cambridge occupies a distinguished place in the history of philosophy. It was here, in the early twentieth century, that Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Ramsey and others developed the analytic style of philosophy that is now prominent in much of the world. Today, the Faculty retains a strong commitment to this analytic tradition, combining it with study of the history of philosophy from Plato to the present day to offer one of the most far-reaching courses of its kind available anywhere in the world.
Teaching and learning
Our approach emphasises the values of the analytic school: rigour, clarity and independent thought. But its content extends well beyond the analytic tradition and its main preoccupations. For instance, we currently offer papers on Greek and Roman, and early modern philosophy, as well as political philosophy and aesthetics. You don’t need to have studied philosophy previously, but we do recommend you do some preliminary reading (see below).
The Faculty has close links with related faculties such as Classics, History, and History and Philosophy of Science, so you can take advantage of a wide range of specialised lectures and seminars. You also have access to many excellent libraries.
If you're thinking of applying to study Philosophy and haven't already done so, we strongly advise you to do some reading about the subject to get a realistic idea of what it's like. For example:
- S Blackburn Think
- R Descartes Meditations
- D Hume Enquiries
- J S Mill Utilitarianism
- B Russell Problems of Philosophy
For further information: http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/philosophy#entry-requirements
Philosophy is the study of fundamental problems about the nature of knowledge and reality, and about our moral and political ideas. In universities it is studied in a way which lays considerable emphasis on very precise and careful argument. Although undergraduates in Cambridge read a wide range of philosophical authors, the main aim of the course is not to impart information about which author said what. Rather the aim is that students acquire the kind of skill in reasoning which will enable them to tackle problems of a philosophical character and to think intelligently about abstract questions generally.
Applicants for Philosophy will take a written assessment at the time of interview. Further information about the format and content for this assessment is available in the https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/files/publications/paa_specification.pdf .
In Homerton we take one or two students each year to study Philosophy. Dr Jennings, our Director of Studies is a research scholar affiliated to the department of History and Philosophy of Science. He is a philosopher of science with interests that include the ethical issues that arise in the use of science and in the conduct of scientific research. Dr Myrto Hatzimichali (also our Director of Study in Classics) is a classical philosopher with interests in late Hellenistic Philosophy and ancient commentaries on Aristotle.
Philosophy is a relatively small subject in Cambridge, so despite strong applications there are few places to offer. We are looking for applicants prepared to take on a considerable amount of reading but also to have the skills in logical and analytical thinking that will enable them to think philosophically in their own right. The standard offer for those made a conditional offer is A*AA at A level or the equivalent in other qualification systems. There are no required subjects.