For thousands of years, people have asked fundamental questions about the world, their place in it, and their relation to each other. These questions, and the attempts to answer them, define the subject matter of philosophy. Our degree is a profound intellectual negotiation of this exciting and fundamental enterprise.
Challenge yourself and improve your powers of reasoning and argument.
Improve your ability to analyse complex ideas, your understanding of people, and your capacity for original thought.
Discover historical and contemporary issues in the subject and make connections between the ideas and arguments that inform philosophical debates.
Study a range of philosophical works from the classical past to present day. Our subjects include existence and reality; knowledge and belief; mind, thought, reason and logic; truth and meaning; and the ethical and aesthetic values of goodness and beauty.
Programme structure, courses and specification
BA: four courses from Level 4, four courses from Level 5 and four courses from Level 6 including a dissertation.
DipHE: four courses from Level 4 and four courses from Level 5.
This programme has one intake date per year: November.
30 January 2023
1 October 2023
30 November 2023
How you study
Distance learning offers you the flexibility to balance your studies with your existing commitments. You will have access to a range of online resources with materials designed for independent study, delivered by way of a Virtual Learning Environment and online library.
The core study materials you need to complete the programme are provided online. These include a programme handbook of practical information (such study advice and how to enter exams), a subject guide for each course that you choose as well as past exam papers and commentaries, giving you valuable tips for performing well in exams. You will also receive a hard copy textbook, Reading Philosophy: Selected Texts with a Method for Beginners.
When you register, we will give you access to your Student Portal to view your details and utilise study skills and career management resources. You can then access your University of London email account and other key resources:
The Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) contains electronic copies of the subject guides, past exam papers and commentaries, and a discussion forum for collaborative study. You can participate in e-seminars (at Level 4) and submit practice essays for feedback.
The Online Library provides access to over 100 million academic electronic items comprising E-books, E-journals, conference proceedings, etc. including programme specific resources. In addition, students can request items which are not held in the library via the library's Inter-Library loans service with the British Library.
Senate House Library provides free reference access for all registered distance and flexible learning students.
We are committed to delivering an exceptional student experience for all of our students, regardless of which of our programmes you are studying and whether you are studying independently or with a Recognised Teaching Centre.
You will have access to support through:
The Student Advice Centre – provides support for application and Student Portal queries.
TalkCampus – a peer support service that offers a safe and confidential way to talk about whatever is on your mind at any time of day or night.
All Level 4 and Level 5 courses are assessed by a two-hour written exam.
Level 6 courses are assessed by a three-hour written exam,
The dissertation is assessed by a thesis of 7,500 words.
Age 18+ by 01 September in the year of registration.
Three GCSEs (at Grade A*-C / 9-4) or equivalent.
For access to individual courses (Introduction to Philosophy):
Age 18+ by 01 September in the year of registration.
Passing this course with 50% will normally admit you to the CertHE.
Even if you do not meet the standard requirements, we will consider each application on its own merits. Our Admissions Panel will consider whether any alternative/incomplete qualifications or work experience you have are suitable for entry to the programme. If we are unable to issue you an offer for either the BA, DipHE or CertHE routes then if available we will advise on further alternatives such as our International Foundation Programme or on additional qualifications you need to take in order to meet our minimum entrance criteria.
You need to demonstrate a good level of English to be admitted to our programmes. We accept a range of evidence, including proficiency test scores. If you don’t have evidence but believe you can meet the standard, we may consider your case.
We set minimum basic computer requirements because your study resources are accessed via the Student Portal and it is vital that you can access this regularly. For this degree, you will also need Adobe Flash Player to view video material and a media player (such as VLC) to play video files.
If you have studied material as part of a previous qualification that is comparable in content, level and standard to our Philosophy modules, you may be exempted from the equivalent course of our degree. This is known as Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) or Exemption. You will not need to study or be assessed in the module(s) to complete your award.
You may be awarded RPL for up to 120 UK credits (four modules at Level 4).
You may not apply for RPL for Level 5 and Level 6 courses or via the DipHE or CertHE programmes.
To be considered for RPL you should make a formal request within your application when applying for the programme. Or, you can submit an online enquiry, if you have already applied.
You will need to have met the entrance requirements for the programme to be considered for RPL.
We can only consider whole, passed prior learning. Usually there is no time limit for when you should have passed your previous qualification(s)/ examination(s), that you are basing your RPL application on.
We will not consider RPL if you have already entered for the assessment in the module concerned.
Your qualifications will need to be assessed by specialist academics on a case by case basis, before we can approve RPL. This is known as discretionary RPL. A formal application is required and an RPL application fee is payable. The RPL application fee is non-refundable, even if your prior learning is not recognised.
Your qualification must be at the appropriate level (equivalent to a UK Level 4 qualification or above) to be considered.
For your discretionary RPL request to be processed, you will need to provide: a completed RPL request form, the supporting documentary evidence (normally a scanned copy of an official transcript and syllabus of your previous studies) and the discretionary RPL fee.
You should apply as early as possible to ensure we have sufficient time to review your qualifications and so you can register by the registration deadline.
Note: All discretionary RPL requests must be submitted by the dates specified in the year that you apply. We must receive all required supporting evidence by the deadline stated.
November 2023 intake
Submit RPL request by
10 November 2023
Submit supporting evidence by
13 November 2023
If you submit your discretionary RPL application but are too late to be considered for RPL in the current session, we will still process your application to study the programme. If you receive an offer, you can still register. If you wish to be considered for RPL in a subsequent session, then you shouldn’t register on the modules you want to apply for RPL.
The indicative totals reflect average fee increases and assume that you complete the qualification within the minimum time (without resits).
*The online examination administration fee is charged for each examination paper held online, including resits. This does not apply to any coursework submissions. This fee will be charged at the point of exam entry and is in addition to the exam entry fee listed above.
Please note: all student fees shown are net of any local VAT, Goods and Services Tax (GST) or any other sales tax payable by the student in their country of residence. Where the University is required to add VAT, GST or any other sales tax at the local statutory rate, this will be added to the fees shown during the payment process. For students resident in the UK, our fees are exempt from VAT.
Your payment provider may apply additional transaction fees (if in doubt, please check with them before making a payment).
Further information about fee payment options can be found in the “How to pay your fees” link above.
The BA Philosophy degree will prepare you for many careers, including public service, teaching and research, media and journalism. While not a vocational subject, the study of philosophy is renowned as excellent preparation for success in fields such as law, administration, and business.
In some countries, qualifications earned by distance and flexible learning may not be recognised by certain authorities or regulators for the purposes of public sector employment or further study. We advise you to explore the local recognition status before you register, even if you plan to receive support from a local teaching institution.
You’ll have access to a wide range of careers and employability support through the University of London Careers Service, including live webinars and Ask Your Careers Questions Live sessions.
The programme is developed by the Department of Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. Birkbeck is ranked among the leading UK University institutions for its levels of national and international excellence in research in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences.
Alex Grzankowski is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Birkbeck and the Associate Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Studies, University of London.
His research is in the Philosophy of Mind and Language with a focus on intentionality and representation. He is an editor of Nonpropositional Intentionality (2018).
Alex received his PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013 and taught at Texas Tech University and Cambridge before moving to Birkbeck, University of London.
Funding your study
Without the cost of moving to London, studying for your University of London degree anywhere in the world represents excellent value for money. However, there are additional sources of support depending on where you live and how you choose to study.