English and Philosophy at Aberdeen combines all the advantages of the UK’s second most highly-rated research hub for English literature, language and creative writing, with a fascinating exploration of how we as humans approach the ‘big questions’ of fundamental importance to us throughout the ages to the present day. The intellectual skills you will develop and their transferability will make you a very attractive graduate with wide career options, including in business.
This programme is studied on campus.
Aberdeen is a leading centre for the study of literature, language and creative writing, rated second in the UK for its research output. You will study poetry and prose through the dynamic relationship between author, reader and literary text, covering every period from Chaucer to contemporary English, Scottish, Irish, European and American writing and the cultural and critical impact of powerful and controversial modern works. You will be inspired by enthusiastic teachers and researchers, themselves acclaimed authors and poets and be encouraged to develop your own creative writing skills.
Philosophers attempt to answer questions such as: What is knowledge? What is the nature of truth? Why should we act morally? Philosophy is just as much the study of reasoning and argument as it is the application of thought to specific problems. What makes Philosophy at Aberdeen especially attractive is the breadth of courses, the user-friendly materials you will use and the experts who will teach you. In your first year alone, you will study topics such as How Should One Live? Controversial Questions, and Experience, Knowledge and Reality.
The skills you will develop through combining these subjects will be a great foundation for any career you choose, including business, so your career options will be wide.
Key Programme Information
At a Glance
- Learning Mode
- On Campus Learning
- Degree Qualification
- 48 months
- Study Mode
- Full Time
- Start Month
- UCAS Code
What You'll Study
- Year 1
- Academic Writing for Divinity, History & Philosophy (AW1007)
This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.
- Professional Skills Part 1 (PD1001)
This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.
This course, which is prescribed for level 1 students and optional for level 2 students and above, is studied entirely online and covers topics relating to careers and employability, equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing. During the course you will learn about the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes, how they are relevant to you and the opportunities available to develop your skills and attributes alongside your University studies. You will also gain an understanding of equality and diversity and health, safety and wellbeing issues. Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’ (non-completion will be recorded as ‘Not Achieved’). The course takes approximately 3 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks and it will be available to you throughout the academic year.
- Acts of Reading (EL1009) - 15 Credit Points
This course introduces students to the study of English by exploring the dynamic relationship between author, reader and text in a series of classic works of fiction and poetry. It covers a broad historical range (from Folk Tales and ballads to 21st century postmodernity) and offers a basic grounding in key elements of literary theory, literary history and the varieties of literary form.
- Experience, Knowledge and Reality (PH1023) - 15 Credit Points
How “real” is reality? How does the mind relate to the world? This course introduces two approaches to answering these questions: rationalism and empiricism. By Rene Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy, we learn about Descartes’ rationalist approach to knowledge, reality, mind-body dualism, and God’s necessary existence. Through David Hume’s Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding see how Hume grounds knowledge in experience. We read Hume on impressions and ideas, induction, causality, miracles and critically compare and examine Descartes’ and Hume’s arguments by drawing on readers and critics. Download Course Guide
- Controversial Classics (EL1513) - 15 Credit Points
Literature can provoke, offend and disturb as well as entertain. This course considers some of the most powerful and controversial works of modern literature. It examines the circumstances of publication, the nature of the controversy, and the cultural and critical impact of each work. The course shows how poems, plays and novels can raise searching questions about national, racial and personal identity, and looks at the methods used by writers to challenge their readers, as well the responses of readers to such challenges.
Select two of the following courses:
- Controversial Questions (PH1027)
- How Should One Live? (PH1522)
- Logic, Language and Information (SX1518)
Plus, select further credit points from courses of choice to a total of 120 credits.
- Controversial Questions (PH1027) - 15 Credit Points
Watch this course video! We examine questions such as: Is eating animals immoral? Is being a good or bad person a matter of luck? If so, are we justified in punishing bad people? Should anyone be able to set limits on what you can do with your own body, even if it's ‘for your own good’? Should everyone be allowed to state their mind, even if their views are harmful or offensive? Is censorship ever justifiable? Do you have a moral obligation to help those worse-off? Are you unknowingly biased against underprivileged groups? Download Course Guide
- How Should One Live? (PH1522) - 15 Credit Points
Why do the morally right thing when you have much more to gain by doing evil and know you could get away with it? Should you save five lives even if this requires you to kill someone in exchange for them? Would you lie on the witness stand to protect your guilty mother from life in prison? We will read and discuss responses to these questions that have been presented in both historical and contemporary texts, including those by Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, Kant, John Stuart Mill, Bernard Williams, Judith Thomson, Shelly Kagan, and T.M. Scanlon.
- Year 2
- Encounters with Shakespeare (EL2011) - 30 Credit Points
So you think you know Shakespeare? This course invites you to think again. Studying a range of plays we get behind the mythology of Shakespeare, and rediscover the dynamic inventiveness of the Elizabethan theatre. Shakespeare and his contemporaries were the principal players in a period of literary experimentation that reinvented the possibilities of literature. Encounters with Shakespeare is your chance to find out more.
- The Tragedy of Knowledge (EL2512) - 30 Credit Points
This course traces the use of key Western myths from antiquity to the present to examine the way knowledge is often presented as both dangerous and compelling. As well as introducing students to a range of historical, social, and formal variations on the theme of knowledge, the course also highlights the role of storytelling and adaptation in the formation of knowledge and understanding.
- What We are: Mind in A Physical World (PH201B) - 15 Credit Points
Watch the course video! In this course we explore a series of arguments which suggest that it is hard to fit the mind into the physical world. In particular, we focus on three topics: the Mind/Body Problem, Free Will and Determinism, and Personal Identity. Each topic starts with an argument which suggests that we are not merely physical entities like brains, the central nervous system or other biological entities. Taken together, these arguments offer a serious challenge to the view that we can explain human cognition in terms of the physical characteristics of human brains and bodies. Download Course Guide
- Gender Equality (PH2535) - 15 Credit Points
For a course description, watch this brief video!
In recent times equality among genders has attracted increasing attention. This is no longer a matter of concern to a fringe movement, but a central issue to contemporary society. In this course we will examine some of the crucial issues in the debate and assess the merits of key arguments. The topics we’ll discuss include the gender pay gap, the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and popular culture, pornography, abortion, the objectification of women, gender equality in sports, and epistemic injustice.
Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credits.
- Year 3
Select a total of two courses from the following groups, each from a different group:
- EL35DQ: Knights, Virgins and Viragos, Chaucer and Medieval Writing
- EL30CP: Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500-1640
- EL35EJ Writing Revolt: Literature and Politics in the 17th Century
- EL3009: American Innovation
- EL35XR: Romanticism
- EL30HK American Insurrections: Writing, Self and Nation1776-1865
- EL30QA Sympathy for the Devil: Scottish Short Stories
- EL35GK Mind and Monstrosity: Realism and Gothic in the Long 19th Century
- EL35VB Bildungsroman to Alien Invasion
- EL35KN Haunted Texts
- EL30FF: Modernism: Make it New
- EL30KM: Perversion of the Interior: Women’s Fiction 1925-1975
- EL35UT: Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma
Plus one course from the following:
- EL30JS: Anglo-American Children’s Literature
- EL35YB: Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft
- EL35EH: Classical Epic
- CE3088: Tales of Vengeance & Enchantment
- EL30VC: Fallen Women and Self-Made Men
Plus, select a further 60 credit points from level 3 courses in Philosophy.
- Knights, Virgins and Viragos: Chaucer and Medieval Writing (EL35DQ) - 30 Credit Points
An introduction to late medieval-literature, challenging modern assumptions about the medieval and exploring the diverse range of medieval literary culture, from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales to the autobiographical narrative of Margery Kempe and surprising profanity of medieval lyric.
- Page and Stage: Renaissance Writings 1500 - 1640 (EL30CP) - 30 Credit Points
This course explores the poetry, drama and prose of a period often referred to as the golden age of English literature. A period which saw Shakespeare and his contemporaries produce innovative new literary works in which the language of desire took centre stage.
- American Innovation (EL3009) - 30 Credit Points
This level-three course offers an introduction to American literature and culture between 1850 and 1950, a century in which the United States was transformed from a rural economy to an industrialised super-power. You will learn about the key writers of this period, the issues that sparked their imaginations, and the literary strategies which they adopted, or at times invented, to express their response to the changing world around them. This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars.
- American Insurrections: Writing, Self and Nation, 1776 - 1865 (EL30HK) - 30 Credit Points
This course follows the development of American literature in English from the printing of the Declaration of Independence, the defining document of the American Revolution, in 1776, to the end of the Civil War, in 1865. It focusing on the idea of America, both as the subject of American writing, and as the context in which that writing was produced. Among the authors studied in the course are: Benjamin Franklin, Charles Brockden Brown, Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, Edgar Allan Poe, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Scottish Short Stories (EL30QA) - 30 Credit Points
Sympathy for the Devil: A Century of Scottish Short Stories
While the short story is often said to have developed in America nineteenth-century Scottish writing is in fact instrumental to the emergence of the form. Often drawing on oral and folk traditions Scottish writers in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries employ the supernatural , or our fear of it, to explore subjects such as guilt, fear, remorse and the extent to which we can control our own destinies. This course will explore the ways in which the short story in Scotland develops from the early nineteenth century until the beginning of the twentieth. It will include writers such as Walter Scott, James Hogg, John Galt, Margaret Oliphant, Robert Louis Stevenson, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jane Findlater and Lewis Grassic Gibbon
- Romanticism (EL35XR) - 30 Credit Points
The Romantic movement swept Europe in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and produced some of the most innovative and exciting literature that has ever been seen. This rule breaking art helped shape the way that we consider art today and underpins many of our ideas about imagination, originality, creativity and self-expression. This course will explore the ways in which the Romantic movement manifested itself across Britain and Ireland and will consider writers such as Blake, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Scott, Austen and Byron.
- Mind and Monstrosity: Realism and the Gothic in the Long 19th Century (EL35GK) - 30 Credit Points
Exploring connections between Gothic monstrosity and psychological realism, this course investigates an exciting range of texts and contexts from the long nineteenth century. Focusing on novels from 1789-1914, with some attention to other genres and adaptations, we ask what it means to be human, and how cultural anxieties and scientific/technological developments have affected literature (and vice versa). From doubling to degeneration, madness to the metropolis, villain to vampire, empire to the threat of extinction, we examine the work of writers such as Mary Shelley, Dickens, Poe, Charlotte and Emily Brontë, Wilkie Collins, George Eliot, Bram Stoker and H.G. Wells.
- Modernism: Make IT New (EL30FF) - 30 Credit Points
The early twentieth century was a time of great literary experimentation as literary modernists rose to the challenge to make it new. We will explore modernism’s stylistic experimentation while also considering the social contexts and changes that shaped this literature. The course will examine a range of writers, genres, movements and locations which prompt us to consider what, when and where was modernism.
- Haunted Texts (EL35KN) - 30 Credit Points
This course offers an overview of a wide range of twentieth-century Scottish literature, focusing on themes of haunting, death, and place. Including novels, short stories, poetry, and drama, the course explores questions of the relationship between self and society, the legacy of the past, and the formation of gendered and regional identities. There are lots of ghosts.
- Art and Atrocity: Representations of Violence and Trauma (EL35UT) - 30 Credit Points
How is the artist to respond when the virtual becomes the real and when words cannot carry the weight of trauma? How can an author avoid the accusations of voyeuristic prurience or crass opportunism when he or she attempts to re-present events of public violence? This multi-disciplinary course examines work from a wide range of modes, including fiction, poetry, film and graphic art, and looks at the difficulties of inscribing trauma and the ethics and praxis of remembrance. Key events covered include the Holocaust, the Sabra and Shatila massacre, 9-11, the Gulf War and the conflict in the Balkans.
- Anglo - American Children’s Literature (EL30JS) - 30 Credit Points
From the picture book to the fairy tale, literature for children offers a wide range of literary modes of engaging with questions of human becoming. This course explores American and British children’s literature from the late nineteenth to the twenty-first century. We will look at a range of genres including poetry, the school story, the adventure story and fantasy, as well as examining the construction of children’s literature as a genre of its own. We will engage in close reading, and consider historical and social context and questions of gender, race and sexuality.
- Classical Epic (EL35EH) - 30 Credit Points
This course is your opportunity to study four of the most influential and gripping texts of world literature. We begin in the oral culture of ancient Greece, with the Iliad's stark meditation on war and death, and the Odyssey's consolatory reflections on divine justice, poetry and love. In imperial Rome, we see the genre transformed into a monument to political power in Virgil's Aeneid, then thrown into disarray by Ovid's irreverent anti-epic, the Metamorphoses. We end by considering some of the ways these texts have been exploited and adapted across the intervening centuries, in poetry and prose, art and film.
- Creative Writing: Creativity and Craft (EL35YB) - 30 Credit Points
This course offers students the opportunity, through lectures and interactive workshops, to develop their understanding of, and practical skills in, the writing of prose fiction, poetry and creative non-fiction. Taught by widely published, award-winning writers, it provides a thorough, practice-based understanding of creative process and of the technical challenges involved in developing an original idea into a completed literary artefact, presented to a professional standard. It also contributes to students' future career potential, whether as ‘creative’ or other kinds of professional writers/communicators.
- Year 4
Select one of the following dissertation options:
- English Dissertation (EL4502)
- Philosophy Dissertation (PH402D)
Plus further credit points from level 4 courses in English and level 4 course(s) in Philosophy to gain a total of 60 credits in each discipline. At least 90 credit points should be taken at level 4.
- English Dissertation (EL4502) - 30 Credit Points
Students will have the opportunity to write a dissertation on a topic of their choosing within English literature.
- Philosophy Dissertation (PH402D) - 30 Credit Points
The dissertation is on a topic in philosophy. The specific topic will be chosen by the student with the approval of the supervisor. The choice of topics is restricted insofar as it must fall within the teaching competence of the supervisor. Download Course Guide
We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
How You'll Study
Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:
- Coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course.
- Practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course.
- Written examinations at the end of each course.
The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.
Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.
- View detailed learning and assessment information for this programme
How the programme is taught
The typical time spent in scheduled learning activities (lectures, tutorials, seminars, practicals), independent self-study or placement is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.
How the programme is assessed
The typical percentage of assessment methods broken down by written examination, coursework or practical exams is shown for each year of the programme based on the most popular course choices selected by students.
Learning Methodscheduled: 24%
Learning Methodscheduled: 11%
Learning Methodscheduled: 14%
Learning Methodscheduled: 4%
Why Study English and Philosophy?
- 100% Overall Satisfaction for Linguistics and Creative Writing”. The Complete University Guide 2020
- Rated second in the UK for the quality of Aberdeen research in English language and literature in the 2014 REF national assessment of research quality at UK universities.
- An international profile through major literary projects such as the Cambridge Edition of the Works of Jane Austen and the Edinburgh Edition of the Waverley Novels of Sir Walter Scott.
- The WORD Centre for Creative Writing, promoting creative projects in fiction, non-fiction and collaborative mixed-media in all the languages of northeast Scotland (from Doric to Polish).
- The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, home to literary treasures collected over 500 years, charting the power of the written word from ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-books and other media.
- Historic collections including rare printed books, the 12th century Aberdeen Bestiary, MacBean Stuart and Jacobite Collection, the novels of Sir Walter Scott, and an exceptional collection of Charles Dickens' first editions.
- A packed campus programme of student and public events, exhibitions, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which welcomes internationally acclaimed authors to campus every spring to discuss literature, including European writers.
- Research centres include the nationally recognised Centre for the Novel, the Centre for Modern Thought, and the Research Institute of Irish and Scottish Studies.
- Ranked top in Scotland for teaching and course content in the last National Student Survey.
- Famous philosophers who worked at the University include Thomas Reid, founder of the 18th century Scottish School of Common Sense Philosophy, and Alexander Bain, who helped lay the foundations for modern scientific psychology.
- The Aberdeen Philosophy in Education Group (APEG), which is unique in Scotland, trains students to discuss philosophical questions with local primary and secondary school pupils.
- Café Philosophique brings philosophers and the local community together, using popular films and novels to explore philosophical puzzles in an informal atmosphere.
- The Centre for the History and Philosophy of Science, Technology and Medicine acts as the focus for research, teaching and engagement in the history, philosophy, ethics, literature and museology of science, technology and medicine.
- The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library offers superb collections, including early printed works of natural philosophy and medicine, the archives of Thomas Reid, and records of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society.
- We offer a packed programme of public events, lectures and debates, including the annual May Festival, which attracts high profile scientists, scholars, authors, actors and broadcasters discussing and debating the big issues of today.
- The skills you learn in Philosophy—for example, to think and write clearly, to explain complex ideas, to challenge orthodoxy—lend themselves to many careers.
- Studying Philosophy will change how you think about things and how you approach lifeâ€™s challenges.
- Philosophy is interesting! Students from all disciplines often report that studying Philosophy was the most rewarding experience of their studies.
The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.
General Entry Requirements
- 2020 Entry
Applicants who have achieved AABB (or better), are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/ Advanced Highers may be required.
Applicants who have achieved BBB (or are on course to achieve this by the end of S5) are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will normally be required.
Applicants who have achieved BB, and who meet one of the widening participation criteria are encouraged to apply and will be considered. Good performance in additional Highers/Advanced Highers will be required.
32 points, including 5, 5, 5 at HL.
Irish Leaving Certificate
5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above).
Entry from College
Advanced entry to this degree may be possible from some HNC/HND qualifications, please see www.abdn.ac.uk/study/articulation for more details.
The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.
English Language Requirements
To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:
OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0
OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21
OVERALL - 54 with: Listening - 51; Reading - 51; Speaking - 51; Writing - 54
Cambridge English Advanced & Proficiency:
OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169
Fees and Funding
You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.
Most RUK students (England, Wales and Northern Ireland) on a four year honours degree will be eligible for a full-fees waiver in their final year. Scholarships and other sources of funding are also available.
|Home / EU||£1,820|
|Students Admitted in 2020/21|
|Students Admitted in 2020/21|
International non-EU Applicants
- In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
- For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.
Our Funding Database
View all funding options in our Funding Database.
There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.
Information About Staff Changes
You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.
Get in Touch
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen