|Degree:||Bachelor of Arts (Honours) (BA (Hons))|
Philosophy & Ethics
Philosophy is an intellectually exciting discipline in which fundamental questions of human existence, value and society are examined, debated and challenged. Its methods are reason and argument and philosophy students are given the skills to reason and argue clearly, cogently and effectively. Rather than a body of doctrine, philosophy is a method or a way of approaching abstract general questions such as what is a good life, what is the fundamental nature of reality, what is the purpose (if any) of human existence?
This course offers the opportunity to engage in depth with questions of metaphysics (about the fundamental nature of reality), epistemology (the theory of knowledge), ethics (theories of right and wrong), political philosophy (the nature of the just state), philosophy of religion (reasoning about God), philosophy of mind (questions about thought, language and reason) and various other areas. The Department is ranked in the 100-150 in the world (QS World University Rankings by Subject, 2019) and the staff are world-recognised specialists in their respective areas of expertise. The general orientation of the department is broadly within analytic philosophy, which values clarity and rigorous argument, and is unique in this respect in Ireland.
Our Department is small and student-friendly while offering a world-class programme in philosophy. We teach courses which have both systematic and historical emphases and in the higher years students can choose options and get to write a thesis on a topic of their own choice. Trinity Philosophy students have regularly won prizes at the International Undergraduate Awards competition and also have gone on to the major graduate programmes in the world. There is a lively student society, the Metafizz, which offers the opportunity of combining social activities with philosophy.
The pathways available are Single Honors, Major with Minor and Joint Honors. Click here for further information.
In the recent past, graduates of Philosophy have worked in areas as diverse as accountancy, academic teaching, journalism, law, TV reporting and research, filmmaking, banking, computing and advertising. Each year some graduates also opt to pursue a research career, beginning with postgraduate study in Ireland or abroad.
Research on graduate entry aptitude tests in the US (GRE) show that philosophy graduates outscore all other disciplines in two of the three main areas (verbal reasoning and analytical writing) and tend to do well in the third, quantitative reasoning. The kind of reasoning and analytical competencies acquired in studying philosophy are transferable to a multiplicity of careers.
The Philosophy course is designed to give you a solid, scholarly grounding in the classical texts that form the history of Western philosophy, and are one of the formative influences on Western culture. Studying the fundamentals of both formal and informal reasoning will support you to think independently.
In the first two years, you will study foundation courses in the history of Philosophy, as well as engage with certain fundamental philosophical problems such as the debates about free will and determinism, the nature of morality, the nature of language, the existence of God, logic, and the scope and limits of human knowledge.
In the Joint Honors programme, where Philosophy is studied with another subject, there are approximately five hours of classes per week; with double that for the Single Honors programme.
In the final two years, you are able to set your own syllabus by selecting courses from a reasonably wide choice including political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of mind, among others. In this way you can specialise in the areas of philosophy you have found most interesting and most suitable to your skills.
Assessment is by means of both essays and formal examinations with equal importance given to both. In fourth year, you will undertake a Capstone project. For more detailed information on all the modules offered, see: www.tcd.ie/philosophy/undergraduate/course-outlines
Students have attended a wide variety of universities in different countries, generally in their second year. As we do not require students to attend a specific university, there is a great choice available (students choose a university in consultation with teaching staff). Further information on the year abroad programme, and a list of partner universities, can be found at: www.tcd.ie/ssp/undergraduate/study-abroad
If you are considering studying for a Philosophy degree at Trinity but want to be sure, you are most welcome to attend first and second year lectures. Contact us by email to arrange a visit.