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Philosophy with Politics

Philosophy with Politics

BA
  • UCAS code V5L2
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

This programme is currently under development and may be subject to change

The course

By combining Philosophy (75% of your course) with Politics (25%) you will take Philosophy as the major element of your degree alongside some study of politics.

Our Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy has an excellent reputation for research and teaching. Studying philosophy and politics here means that you will learn from internationally renowned experts who will share their research and experience so that you gain invaluable skills for your future career.

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European traditions of philosophy to focus on both –their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the core philosophical areas of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy as well as the history of philosophy, combined with gaining a solid foundation in politics and political theory, studying subjects such as British, American and European politics, political communication, gender and theories of democracy and freedom.

  • Gain a detailed understanding of philosophical debates and issues underlying political systems in a globalised world
  • Explore ideas and ideologies and issues that are fundamental to understanding the politics of our times
  • Develop critical research or presentation skills for your career or further study

Core Modules

Year 1
  • Introduction to Modern Philosophy
  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

  • Introduction to Political Philosophy
  • In every aspect of our lives we are inundated by information and misinformation, claims and counter-claims: some people tell us we should believe this; others that we should believe that. Decisions have to be made; possible evidence has to be sifted; reasons have to be given; arguments have to be propounded; risks evaluated. All this requires the ability to reason critically: to distinguish between bad arguments and good ones, supporting evidence from mere distraction. Everybody has the basic ability to do this, but it is not always as developed we need it to be: and in this complex world being able to present your point forcefully and rationally is vitally important. The aim of this module is to help you develop the skills required to get the most out of their degree and beyond. 

  • This module will introduce students to some key theories and problems in ethics. Ethical theories examined may include deontology, utilitarianism, moral sense theory, and virtue ethics. Theoretical issues may include the nature of value, theories of rights and responsibilities, and the role of competing conceptions of human nature. Practical topics may include euthanasia, abortion, poverty, personal relationships, equality, animal ethics, and punishment. The precise topics covered may vary from year to year, according to staff availability and interests. The module will lay the foundations for subsequent modules at Level 5 and 6, including ‘Ancient Ethics’, ‘Existentialist Ethics’, and ‘Philosophy of Medicine and Bioethics’.

     

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

  • This module will introduce you to the academic study of politics and to the ‘real world’ of contemporary politics. As a foundational course, it will give you all the essential tools to understand the nature of politics and analyse the way different political systems work. You will be introduced to key concepts such as politics, power, rights, ideologies, democracy and representation, and will learn about the different actors, institutions and processes that make up politics today.

Year 2

You will undertake a short ‘reflecting on feedback’ exercise in order to progress into the final year of study

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

You will also take one of the following modules:

  • The module looks at key texts by Immanuel Kant which are the foundation of Modern European Philosophy. These texts raise questions concerning the status of human knowledge and the nature and justification of human action that have concerned philosophers ever since. The module considers Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. The core theme of the module is how philosophy responds to the situation in which it can no longer rely on theological support for its claims about truth and morality. This raises questions about the nature of the human subject that are evident in the conjunction of the massive success of the modern natural sciences with an abiding worry as to whether sceptical objections to establishing true knowledge can be overcome. Kant sees these issues in terms of 'transcendental philosophy' establishing the limits of knowledge by seeing what the necessary conditions of knowledge are.

     

  • This module will explore the central developments in modern philosophy occurring between the foundation of modern empiricism and rationalism by Locke and Descartes in the 17th century, and the emergence of Kant’s philosophical system in the late 18th century. The module will look at three of the key figures from the two traditions, exploring the key theories they expound, and the arguments used to support these theories. The figures covered will depend on the research specialisms of the module convenor, but a typical syllabus would involve reading works by Spinoza, Leibniz, and Hume. Looking at these philosophers over a number of weeks will allow you to develop your close reading skills, and to see how the arguments put forward by these philosophers work together to produce a systematic metaphysical worldview.

Year 3
  • You will demonstrate your skills as an independent learner by embarking upon a substantial piece of written work of between 8,000 and 10,000 words in length. You will be guided by a dissertation supervisor, but will choose your own topic, approach, and philosophical sources.

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2

Optional modules in Philosophy may include:

  • There has been a sharp revival of interest in fundamental questions relating to knowledge in recent years. These include the status of testimonial knowledge; the extent to which possession of knowledge requires one or more virtues; the suggestion that knowledge can be a group rather than an individual achievement; the idea that it is unjust to place people in positions where they cannot acquire knowledge that might empower them; the relationship between knowing how to do something and that something is the case; the role of bias, discrimination and presupposition. Building on the first year module on epistemology, this module focusses on one or more of these and investigates them in depth.

  • This module will introduce ancient Greek ethics, primarily focusing on the ideas of Socrates (as presented in Plato’s early dialogues) and Aristotle. The first part will look at key themes in Socratic-Platonic ethics, examining material from a range of Platonic dialogues, including (but not limited to) the Protagoras, Gorgias, and Euthydemus. It will consider topics such as virtue, knowledge, ignorance, and weakness of will. The second part will focus on Aristotle’s ethics, as presented in his Nicomachean Ethics, and will look at topics such as happiness, character, virtue, pleasure, and the ideal life. Subsequent developments in ancient Greek ethics (i.e. Epicureanism, Stoicism) will be covered in the companion module ‘PY2218/PY3218 Hellenistic Philosophy’, although each module is designed to stand without the other. Where relevant, aspects of ancient ethics from other traditions (Indian, Chinese) may also be incorporated in order to broaden and diversify the curriculum. Although focused on historical texts, the module will be primarily concerned with the philosophical problems that they raise.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key developments of the Twentieth Century French philosophical tradition. You will look at how the French tradition developed as an alternative approach to philosophical problems on the basis of the perceived failure of classical analytical approaches. You will engage with a number of theorists, studying key texts in depth, further developing your ability to express, question, and justify theories, both dialogically, and in writing. You will assess arguments presented by Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze.

  • We will draw on issues in philosophy of science and ethics to understand and attempt to solve conceptual problems arising in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Among other things, we will consider what a disease is, whether we own our bodies (and body parts), what is involved in informed consent, and what is properly involved in decision-making in medicine.

  • This module will examine a range of key thinkers and themes in medieval philosophy, from the fourth to the fourteenth century, telling the story of the development and transmission of philosophical ideas along the way. It will begin in late antiquity, showing the ways in which medieval thought was built on the ancient Greek philosophical tradition. It will outline the transmission of Greek thought to the Arabic-speaking world, examine a number of Arabic philosophers, and consider the impact of Arabic thought on medieval philosophy in Paris. It will conclude with Duns Scotus, active in fourteenth century Paris and Oxford. Topics discussed will focus on problems in metaphysics, such as the nature of existence, universals, the mind, and time. The relationship between philosophy and theology (or reason and faith) will be a continuing theme. The primarily metaphysical content will make this module a companion to ‘PY2217/PY3217 Ancient Metaphysics’, although each module is designed to stand without the other. It will examine (in translation) texts originally written in Greek, Arabic, and Latin.

Optional modules in Politics may include:

  • In this module you will analyse the contemporary politics of the European Union and its institutions, amid the challenges of the triple crisis of economics, migration and Brexit. You will learn about the political history of European integration after 1949 and the contemporary theory of European integration. The first term will begin with an introduction to the European Union as a political system followed by an overview of the European Union's historical development. The second term will focus on contestation of the European Union and the theories that underpin this, in order to explain how the EU developed and the challenges that it faces. Topics will include Euroscepticism, party politics, public opinion, Brexit and EU-UK relations, and European Parliament elections. The theory sessions comprise of federalism, neo-functionalism, liberal intergovernmentalism and the new institutionalisms.

  • I in this module you will develop an understanding of contemporary British politics. You will look at the ways in which British government has evolved, how it continues to operate, and why it operates in the way it does. You will consider the causes and consequences of major political change in Britain and examine the underlying assumptions upon which theoretical disputes in political science are based.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how citizens, politicians and the media interact across Western democracies during both electoral and governing periods. You will look at the production and consumption of political news, consider election campaigns and their effects, and examine contemporary debates in political communication, including ethical issues.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the most important features of the history of the development of the non-West. You will look at the distinctive political dynamics characterising the contemporary non-West and consider the thoughts of prominent non-Western political thinkers.

Year 3

Optional modules in Philosophy may include:

  • There has been a sharp revival of interest in fundamental questions relating to knowledge in recent years. These include the status of testimonial knowledge; the extent to which possession of knowledge requires one or more virtues; the suggestion that knowledge can be a group rather than an individual achievement; the idea that it is unjust to place people in positions where they cannot acquire knowledge that might empower them; the relationship between knowing how to do something and that something is the case; the role of bias, discrimination and presupposition. Building on the first year module on epistemology, this module focusses on one or more of these and investigates them in depth.

  • This module will introduce ancient Greek ethics, primarily focusing on the ideas of Socrates (as presented in Plato’s early dialogues) and Aristotle. The first part will look at key themes in Socratic-Platonic ethics, examining material from a range of Platonic dialogues, including (but not limited to) the Protagoras, Gorgias, and Euthydemus. It will consider topics such as virtue, knowledge, ignorance, and weakness of will. The second part will focus on Aristotle’s ethics, as presented in his Nicomachean Ethics, and will look at topics such as happiness, character, virtue, pleasure, and the ideal life. Subsequent developments in ancient Greek ethics (i.e. Epicureanism, Stoicism) will be covered in the companion module ‘PY2218/PY3218 Hellenistic Philosophy’, although each module is designed to stand without the other. Where relevant, aspects of ancient ethics from other traditions (Indian, Chinese) may also be incorporated in order to broaden and diversify the curriculum. Although focused on historical texts, the module will be primarily concerned with the philosophical problems that they raise.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key developments of the Twentieth Century French philosophical tradition. You will look at how the French tradition developed as an alternative approach to philosophical problems on the basis of the perceived failure of classical analytical approaches. You will engage with a number of theorists, studying key texts in depth, further developing your ability to express, question, and justify theories, both dialogically, and in writing. You will assess arguments presented by Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze.

  • We will draw on issues in philosophy of science and ethics to understand and attempt to solve conceptual problems arising in medicine and the biomedical sciences. Among other things, we will consider what a disease is, whether we own our bodies (and body parts), what is involved in informed consent, and what is properly involved in decision-making in medicine.

  • This module will examine a range of key thinkers and themes in medieval philosophy, from the fourth to the fourteenth century, telling the story of the development and transmission of philosophical ideas along the way. It will begin in late antiquity, showing the ways in which medieval thought was built on the ancient Greek philosophical tradition. It will outline the transmission of Greek thought to the Arabic-speaking world, examine a number of Arabic philosophers, and consider the impact of Arabic thought on medieval philosophy in Paris. It will conclude with Duns Scotus, active in fourteenth century Paris and Oxford. Topics discussed will focus on problems in metaphysics, such as the nature of existence, universals, the mind, and time. The relationship between philosophy and theology (or reason and faith) will be a continuing theme. The primarily metaphysical content will make this module a companion to ‘PY2217/PY3217 Ancient Metaphysics’, although each module is designed to stand without the other. It will examine (in translation) texts originally written in Greek, Arabic, and Latin.

Optional modules in Politics may include:

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of regulation in the European Union, including delivery of policy and administration. You will look at how the world's largest market operates, with a focus on EU public policy, including de-regulation, re-regulation, budgets and spending. You will examine the concept of the single market, the Euro and its crisis, justice, home affairs and counter-terrorism, the EU budget, agriculture, regional development, and social and environmental policies.

  • Radical Political Theory
  • Young People's Politics
  • Leadership, Power and the British Prime Minister
  • Visual Politics
  • American Political Development
  • The Politics of Russia and Eastern Europe
  • The Politics of International Development
  • Issues in Democratic Theory
  • Political Theories of Freedom
  • Party leaders, and their public image, are increasingly considered important for a party’s electoral success, for the smooth running of government and for regime legitimacy. Perhaps the most important variable for successful politicians is their ability to effectively communicate and connect with their audiences. This module will first, show you the techniques most frequently used my politicians, communicators and speechwriters to effectively deliver their messages in different contexts and settings. Next, you will analyse how these techniques have been used by the greatest leaders in the word to justify their regimes. By the end of the module you will be able to evaluate leadership styles during and after elections and design communication strategies that will deliver political messages effectively.

     

  • This module examines both the domestic and international politics of the environment. The first part of the module consists of defining the environmental problems faced globally, highlighting similarities and differences to other issues. This part also identifies the key actors, interests, and institutions that are necessary to understand the politics of climate change. The second part of the module focuses on three varieties of theories of environmental politics: collective action problems, distributional politics, and ideational conflict. The third part then examines a variety of topics in environmental politics, building upon the analytical approaches outlined in the first two parts of the course. The chosen topics allow for both understanding how politics shapes environmental outcomes, for example through international agreements, as well as how climate change and the environment affects political outcomes, for example by fostering political conflict.

     

     

  • This final-year half module offers students the opportunity to obtain an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the British parliament and its place in British democracy. It will help you to evaluate the work and role of Parliament and parliamentarians, appreciate ongoing debates about contemporary legislative practice, and engage critically with previous academic scholarship in this area. It will also help you to develop you own awareness and experience of conducting research.

  • This module is designed to introduce advanced undergraduates to the major themes of contemporary Latin American politics and, consequently, democracy and political development. Although the module does not assume that you already have knowledge of the region, you are expected to be familiar with basic concepts of comparative political analysis. While the module stresses the political aspects of the developmental process, its objective is to show the linkages between economic, social, cultural, and political variables--both at national and international levels.

     

     

  • Issues of free speech are amongst the most contentious in current political debate. The module aims to give you an in depth understanding of the nature, value and limits of freedom of speech, from the perspective of normative political theory. It is not a course in the law of free speech, nor about the free speech situation in any particular country. Though the module touches on both the latter, the aim instead, is to enable you to understand the values, norms and principles at issue in contexts where free speech is promoted, regulated, limited or denied- especially contexts where that choice is contentious. You will be encouraged to look beyond the headlines to explore the rich and varied academic scholarship on free speech, and to offer critical analyses of that scholarship. By the end of the module, you should be able to interrogate your own and others’ intuitive reactions in controversial cases of e.g. hate speech, and to develop a reasoned, nuanced approach to these issues.

     

  • This module examines the contemporary literature on gender and politics, with a particular focus on women’s participation and representation in British politics. It introduces you to feminist theories of representation, debates over women’s interests, and feminist institutionalism. It applies these frameworks to consider why the number of women in our parliaments might matter and what difference – symbolic, substantive and affective – sex and gender make to elected political institutions, the policy process, political outcomes, and healthy democracies.

  • The politics of South Asia – India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh - are central to understanding some of the themes at the core of modern politics: poverty and development, security and warfare, migration and transnationalism, decolonisation and postcolonialism, the international economy and globalisation. This module deals with the social and political development of these countries since independence from British rule in 1947. We will analyse issues including caste politics, the role of religious violence and the place of women in politics and society. Sources will come from a range of disciplines – politics and IR, history, sociology, anthropology, novels and films. We will study regional cooperation and conflict including the troubled relationship between India and Pakistan over Kashmir and their nuclear status. By the end of the module you will have a specialised understanding of the major social, economic and political developments in the region.

     

  1. Personal tutor in Philosophy and designated staff liaison in Politics
  2. 25% modules in Politics and 75% modules in Philosophy
  3. Lectures, seminars, small-group tutorials, workshops, fieldtrips, etc
  4. Diverse assessment methods from essays and exams to multiple choice questions, reports, reflective logs and oral presentations
  5. Emphasis on continuous feedback both orally and in writing

A Levels: AAB-ABB

Required subjects:

  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A - levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. Socio - economic factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway (apart from some language courses) is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

Undergraduate Pathways

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, the International Study Centre offers the following pathway programmes:

International Foundation Year - for progression to the first year of an undergraduate degree.

International Year One - for progression to the second year of an undergraduate degree. You can join the International Year One in January 2021 and progress to degree study in September 2021.

A philosophy and politics degree at Royal Holloway can lead into a variety of career paths. It not only promotes academic achievement and employability but will see you learning to approach problems in a rigorous and analytical way, and to develop your abilities to communicate and debate in both speech and writing. You will be equipped with the knowledge, skills and experiences essential to advance your future career or move onto further study.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £17,700

Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course.

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loansscholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2020/21, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2021/22 has not yet been confirmed.

**The Government has confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2020/21 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award an automatic fee reduction which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.

Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions. Fees shown above are for 2020/21 and are displayed for indicative purposes only.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

93% overall student satisfaction

Source: NSS, 2019

4th in the UK for graduate prospects

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020

14th in the UK

Source: Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, 2020

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