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Philosophy

What is Philosophy? There is no consensus among professional philosophers about the answer to that question, or even how to go about answering it. This gives us a clue to one of the distinctive features of Philosophy, namely, that in Philosophy, everything is open to question. But philosophers don’t just raise questions; they also attempt to address them, no matter how difficult the questions may at first seem. Some of the questions you might address as a Philosophy student are: What makes an action right or wrong? Do we have duties to non-human animals? Are there any moral truths? What is knowledge, and do we have any? What makes you a person? Is time travel possible? Is your mind nothing over and above the activity of your brain? Do numbers exist?

Philosophy at Oxford is only studied in combination with other subjects. Applicants can choose between: Mathematics & Philosophy; Physics & Philosophy; Philosophy & Modern Languages; Politics, Philosophy & Economics; and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics.

Why study Philosophy at St Hilda’s?

St Hilda’s has a well-deserved reputation for being an open, informal and friendly place. We have a relatively large intake of philosophers across the joint schools, so the community of philosophers at St Hilda’s is large and vibrant. This is a great advantage, since Philosophy is a discursive subject, and a great deal can be learned through informal exchanges of ideas. The undergraduate philosophers are well integrated with graduates through social events such as philosophy drinks parties, and regular philosophy seminars to which all St Hilda’s philosophers are invited.

The Philosophy tutors and lecturers at St Hilda’s cover a wide range of papers at the undergraduate level, and can cover much of the first year teaching within college. However, one of the great advantages to studying Philosophy at Oxford is the abundance of expertise in Philosophy in the Faculty. It is common practice for colleges to ‘swap’ students, so that each student can be taught by experts, often world leaders, in the field.

At St Hilda’s we take academic achievement seriously, and we are strongly committed to supporting students to achieve their full academic potential. In Philosophy, our students have consistently performed well at examinations. For example, last year, one of our students received one of the top firsts in Philosophy, and 4 of our prelims candidates received distinctions in Philosophy.

We are located less than 10 minutes by foot from the Philosophy Faculty Library, at 10 Merton Street, where a comprehensive selection of philosophy resources is available for loan.

At Oxford, Philosophy is always studied in conjunction with at least one other subject, and the links between Philosophy and the subjects with which it is joined are explored in so-called ‘bridge papers’. For instance, Classicists might be interested in studying Plato or Aristotle, either in the original language or in translation; PPE students might be interested in Theory of Politics, which bridges Philosophy and Politics; and Philosophy of Mind bridges Philosophy and Psychology. Nevertheless, nearly all papers are open to everyone, so PPE students can study Philosophy of Maths, and Physics and Philosophy students can study Theory of Politics. As a result, each student gets a course that is ‘tailor made’ to suit his or her interests.

Subject Tutors

The core tutorial teaching team at St Hilda’s consists of:

- Dr Anita Avramides
- Dr Manuel Dries
- Professor John Gibbons
- Dr Roger Teichmann
- Dr David Lee

After St Hilda's

Some graduates of joint schools involving Philosophy have gone on to research in Philosophy and related fields. Others have gone on to careers in law, finance, political research, journalism and television.

Further Information

The Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford is one of the largest Philosophy departments in the world, with more than one hundred and fifty professional philosophers across the University. For more information, please see the Philosophy Faculty website.