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Philosophy and Sociology (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)

Course overview

(BA) Bachelor of Arts
Philosophy and Sociology (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad)
University of Essex
University of Essex
Essex Pathways
Colchester Campus
Honours Degree

UK and EU applicants should have, or expect to have:

72 UCAS tariff points from at least two full A-levels, or equivalent.

Examples of the above tariff may include:

  • A-levels: DDD
  • BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma: MMP

Essex Pathways Department accepts a wide range of qualifications from applicants. If you are unsure whether you meet the entry criteria, please get in touch for advice.

Essex Pathways Department is unable to accept applications from international students. Foundation pathways for international students are available at the University of Essex International College and are delivered and awarded by Kaplan, in partnership with the University of Essex. Successful completion will enable you to progress to the relevant degree course at the University of Essex.

English language requirements for applicants whose first language is not English: IELTS 5.5 overall. Specified component grades are also required for applicants who require a Tier 4 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 required. Please note that date restrictions may apply to some English language qualifications

If you are an international student requiring a Tier 4 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

Our Year 0 courses are only open to UK and EU applicants. If you’re an international student, but do not meet the English language or academic requirements for direct admission to your chosen 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.

External Examiners

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer

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 2019 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
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
Optional You can choose which module to study

Year 0 - 2019/20

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 IA121-3-FY Philosophy: Fundamental Questions, Major Thinkers Core 30
02 IA195-3-FY Research and Academic Development Skills Core 30
03 IA118-3-FY or IA108-3-FY or IA111-3-FY or IA101-3-FY Core with Options 30
04 IA118-3-FY or IA108-3-FY or IA111-3-FY or IA101-3-FY Core with Options 30

Year 1 - 2020/21

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 PY111-4-FY Introduction to Philosophy Core 30
02 SC111-4-FY The Sociological Imagination Core 30
03 PY113-4-FY or option(s) from list Optional 30
04 CS101-4-FY or option(s) from list or Outside Option(s) Optional 30
05 CS711-4-FY Skills for University Studies Compulsory 0

Year Abroad/Placement - 2022/23

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 AW600-6-FY Compulsory 60

Year 3 - 2023/24

Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits
01 SC301-6-FY Current Disputes in Sociology: Sociological Analysis III Compulsory 30
02 PY453-6-AU or Philosophy option from list Optional 15
03 PY428-6-SP or PY413-6-SP or Philosophy option from list Optional 15
04 Sociology option(s) from list Optional 30
05 PY455-6-SU Philosophy Capstone Module Compulsory 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.

The outcomes listed below represent the minimum that might be expected of a graduate of the Departments of Philosophy and Sociology of the University of Essex.

It is the intention of the Departments that the vast majority of graduates will achieve significantly more.

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.
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.

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Should you have any questions about programme specifications, please contact Course Records, Quality and Academic Development; email: