Philosophy and Sociology (Including Year Abroad)

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Academic Year of Entry: 2023/24 - 2024/25
Course overview
(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Sociology (Including Year Abroad)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A-levels: ABB


IB: 32 points or three Higher Level certificates with 655
We are also happy to consider a combination of separate IB Diploma Programme Courses (formerly certificates) at both Higher and Standard Level. Exact offer levels will vary depending on the range of subjects being taken at higher and standard level, and the course applied for.
We can also consider combinations with BTECs or other qualifications in the Career-related programme – the acceptability of BTECs and other qualifications depends on the subject studied, advice on acceptability can be provided. Please contact the Undergraduate Admissions Office for more information.

Access to HE Diploma: 15 level 3 credits at Distinction and 30 level 3 credits at Merit

T-levels: Distinction

What if I don’t achieve the grades I hoped?

If your final grades are not as high as you had hoped, the good news is you may still be able to secure a place with us on a course which includes a foundation year. Visit our undergraduate application information page for more details.

What if I have a non-traditional academic background?
Don’t worry. To gain a deeper knowledge of your course suitability, we will look at your educational and employment history, together with your personal statement and reference.

You may be considered for entry into Year 1 of your chosen course. Alternatively, some UK and EU applicants may be considered for Essex Pathways, an additional year of study (known as a foundation year/year 0) helping students gain the necessary skills and knowledge in order to succeed on their chosen course. You can find a list of Essex Pathways courses and entry requirements here

If you are a mature student, further information is here

IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 6.0 overall. Different requirements apply for second year entry, and specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a visa to study in the UK.

Other English language qualifications may be acceptable so please contact us for further details. If we accept the English component of an international qualification then it will be included in the information given about the academic levels listed above. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a visa to study in the UK please see our immigration webpages for the latest Home Office guidance on English language qualifications.

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to this degree, you could prepare and gain entry through a pathway course. Find out more about opportunities available to you at the University of Essex International College here.

Course qualifiers

A course qualifier is a bracketed addition to your course title to denote a specialisation or pathway that you have achieved via the completion of specific modules during your course. The specific module requirements for each qualifier title are noted below. Eligibility for any selected qualifier will be determined by the department and confirmed by the final year Board of Examiners. If the required modules are not successfully completed, your course title will remain as described above without any bracketed addition. Selection of a course qualifier is optional and student can register preferences or opt-out via Online Module Enrolment (eNROL).


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes


External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Josiah Saunders

Associate Professor

Durham University

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 21 October 2024 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  PY111-4-FY-CO  Introduction to Philosophy  Compulsory  30  30 
02  SC111-4-FY-CO  The Sociological Imagination  Compulsory  30  30 
03    PY113-4-FY or option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
04    Option(s) from list or Outside Option(s)  Optional  30  30 
05  CS711-4-FY-CO  Skills for University Studies  Compulsory 

Year 2 - 2024/25

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  SC201-5-FY-CO  Power and Agency in a Global World  Compulsory  30  30 
02    PY408-5-AU and/or PY429-5-SP and/or Philosophy option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
03    Recommend PY437-5-SP or Philosophy option from list  Optional  15  15 
04    Sociology option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
05    CS200-5-AU or (CS207-5-AU and Philosophy option)  Optional  15  15 

Year Abroad/Placement - 2025/26

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  AW121-6-FY-CO  Abroad Module 120 Credits  Compulsory  120  120 

Year 3 - 2026/27

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Min Credits Max Credits
01  SC301-6-FY-CO  Rethinking Modernity  Compulsory  30  30 
02    PY456-6-AU or Philosophy option from list  Optional  15  15 
03    PY413-6-SP or PY428-6-SP or Philosophy option from list  Optional  15  15 
04    CS307-6-AU and/or Sociology option(s) from list  Optional  30  30 
05  PY455-6-SU-CO  PY455-6-SU - CAPSTONE  Compulsory  30  30 

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

  • To provide students with an appreciation of the intellectual and cultural foundations of Western thought, and an opportunity to engage in debates across the humanities.
  • To provide a wide-ranging and flexible philosophy curriculum, embracing both analytical (or Anglo-American) and Continental (Modern European) philosophical thought.
  • To provide students with a knowledge of the main theoretical traditions of sociology, and an understanding of the main sociological methods.
  • To develop students' awareness of the interrelations between philosophical reflection and sociological enquiry, and, more generally, of the relevance of philosophy and sociology to other forms of enquiry (e.g., political, cultural, aesthetic), and to issues in public and moral life.
  • To develop students' capacity for independent thought, critical enquiry and reflection, argument and analysis, so as to enhance both their future personal and professional lives.
  • To provide students with the knowledge and skills necessary for further study and research.

  • Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

    On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

    A: Knowledge and understanding

    A1: Knowledge of philosophical texts from a variety of traditions (both analytical and continental) and a variety of contexts.

    A2: Knowledge of the intellectual foundations of sociology, and of key sociological concepts and theories.

    A3: Knowledge of significant figures in the history of philosophy, and of some central theories, arguments and issues connected with them.

    A4: Understanding of the relationship between individuals, groups and social institutions, and of social context, culture, social diversity and social change.

    A5: Knowledge of techniques of philosophical reasoning and different conceptions of philosophical method.

    A6: Knowledge of the relationship between theory, concepts and substantive issues in sociology, and of the principles of research design and the main approaches to data collection.

    A7: Knowledge of the epistemological, ethical and political dimensions of sociological research.

    A8: Knowledge of major issues currently being debated by philosophers and/or sociologists, including issues at the interface between philosophical and sociological enquiry.

    Learning methods

    Outcomes A1-8 are achieved through teaching in lecture and in class/workshop/seminar format.

    Lectures present material - ideas, data and arguments - in a structured manner, mapping intellectual fields and the contours of debates.

    The material is further explored in classes, which focus on specific issues and arguments, or textual or practical examples.

    The curriculum is designed to involve clear progression between years 1, 2 and 3, with students taking a sequence of required compulsory modules in sociology, complemented by social science options in the first year, and a sequence of philosophy modules which are also designed to ensure progression from year to year.

    In both disciplines students are expected to read books and journal articles in order to prepare for classroom discussion, and also as preparation for writing essays.

    In the first year students have to produce a glossary of sociological concepts, and a sociological journal on a topic of their choice for SC111.

    Assessment methods

    All outcomes are assessed through coursework and through unseen written examinations.

    Coursework in sociology includes essays, a sociological journal, and a glossary of sociological terms. In philosophy, it includes essays, essay plans, essay drafts, abstracts, peer reviews of draft student essays, reading summaries, reading analyses, in-class reading quizzes, logic exercises, take-home exams, individual and group oral presentations, and a final-year 5,000-word dissertation. Coursework is prepared during the academic year for a specified module, returned with a grade and written or oral feedback for the student.

    Coursework is returned with a mark and written or oral comments.

    Unseen exams consist of essay-type questions, but the exam for SC201 also requires commentary on an extract from a sociological classic, and the exam for PY114 includes logic exercises.

    Coursework tests the ability to research a topic using, for example, library and internet resources, expound specified texts and enter into detailed argumentation with them.

    Unseen exams test the ability to rehearse and assess arguments in relation to specific questions posed within a limited time frame.

    Philosophy modules include examinations in the first year only.

    B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

    B1: Ability to follow complex philosophical arguments and present one's own evaluation of them.

    B2: Ability to understand, summarise and critically assess sociological work.

    B3: Ability to understand and use specialist philosophical terminology.

    B4: Ability to compare competing sociological theories and explanations, and to reason critically and coherently in assessing the merits of rival arguments.

    B5: Ability to formulate cogent sociological questions, and to assemble, evaluate and interpret evidence.

    B6: Ability to identify underlying issues in philosophical texts, debates and arguments, and to highlight deficiencies such as unquestioned assumptions, superficial analogies and unsubstantiated claims.

    B7: Ability to summarise complex and demanding philosophical and sociological texts, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose.

    B8: Ability to assemble, evaluate and interpret sociological evidence.

    Learning methods

    Skill B1-8 are acquired and developed through lectures and class teaching.

    Students are expected to read background material for lectures and classes, and to participate in discussion.

    For some sociology classes students must also collect and evaluate empirical data, and tutors provide feedback on class presentations.

    Researching and writing essays also offers important practice in the development of these skills.

    Assessment methods

    Outcomes B1-8 are assessed through the coursework and unseen written examinations which students produce for this degree scheme.

    Not all sociology assignments require the evaluation and interpretation of empirical evidence, though many do.

    Written and oral feedback is also offered to students to assist them in developing these skills.

    C: Practical skills

    C1: Ability to write an essay on a philosophical or sociological topic, or on a topic which draws on both disciplines, expressing oneself clearly.

    C2: Ability to retrieve and synthesise relevant information, and assemble data, from a range of sources, using books, journal articles, library and internet resources.

    C3: Ability to summarise, report and evaluate arguments, texts and findings.

    C4: Ability to use accepted conventions for presenting references and bibliographies in academic writing.

    C5: Ability to demonstrate reflexive awareness in interpreting philosophical and/or sociological material.

    C6: Ability to apply the necessary organisational and cultural skills for living and working abroad.

    Learning methods

    Skills C1-5 are developed through preparation for classes and exams, and the preparation of coursework, in conjunction with guidance given in teaching, comments on coursework, and advice provided in Departmental Handbooks.

    In the first year sociology assignments cover tasks such as producing a bibliography on a sociological topic, producing a glossary, describing and evaluating a sociological text, and producing a sociological journal.

    Assessment methods

    Assessment is by coursework and unseen examinations (as described above under A: Knowledge and Understanding).

    C2 is specifically assessed in a first-year sociology coursework assignment.

    Essay questions test all skills, while exam questions test skills C1, C3 and C5.

    D: Key skills

    D1: Ability to write clearly, and to present ideas and evidence to others in a lucid and precise manner.

    D2: Ability to use information technology to collect materials and research and present written work.

    D3: Not applicable.

    D4: Ability to identify the problem to be solved, articulate critically the assumptions connected with or underlying the problem, to compare and contrast the often contradictory solutions to the problem, and to provide argument and evidence in defence of one's solution to the problem.

    D5: Not applicable.

    D6: Ability to plan work and manage time, to work to a deadline, and to reflect on one's own work, responding constructively to comment on oral and written communications from teachers and from one's peers.

    Learning methods

    Skills D1-6 are developed through the established teaching and learning methods for the course.

    Specific assignments require students to give oral presentations, and to conduct bibliographic and web searches.

    Students are encouraged to discuss essay plans with staff in advance and are given clear deadlines to meet for essays.

    Feedback is always provided on coursework, and students are encouraged to reflect on and improve their work.

    The format of classes encourages successful interaction in groups.

    Assessment methods

    D1 is assessed throughout the course, through continuously assessed coursework and examinations.

    D2 skills are a component in the evaluation of most assessed modules, which require information searches and the word-processing of coursework, but first year assignments such as the sociological journal put a particular focus on them.

    D4 is assessed in all assignments (coursework and examination scripts).

    Since the curriculum is structured in a progressive manner D6 is tested as students advance from year to year.


    The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

    The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.


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