Introduction

Philosophy and Politics at Aberdeen is a great subject pairing, taking you on a fascinating study of argument and how we apply it to Big Questions of fundamental importance to us as humans. You will study these subjects within the context of the wider world of international relations and politics across the world – giving you the skills for a wide range of careers in politics, media and many other fields.

This programme is studied on campus.

Philosophy attempts 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 can study topics such as How Should One Live? Controversial Questions, and Experience, Knowledge and Reality.

In Politics, you will be right at the front of debate on developments in the world today, international relations and global politics, taught by highly-regarded experts regularly commenting in the media on events unfolding in the world.

You will explore voting behaviour, different political systems, making and implementing policy, nationalism, concepts of democracy and ever-present concerns of conflict and peace. You can also take advantage of unique options made possible by the research pedigree of our academic team with a strong track record in publishing international papers and articles.

The combination of analytical and intellectual skills you will develop and their transferability will be a great foundation for any career you choose, including politics, international business and organisations, NGOs, government service, marketing and much more.

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Key Programme Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
VL52

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses

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.

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Politics & International Relations 1: Democracy and Governance (PI1018) - 15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

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Politics & International Relations 2: Power and Conflict (PI1518) - 15 Credit Points

Politics and International Relations impacts on all parts of our lives, with more specifically it being the study of ideas, events, institutions and choice. Studying these provides us with both knowledge of the world and also how it operates and functions. It also changes our perception of our surroundings and makes us aware of an ever changing global context. This course will introduce students to concepts and ideas that form the basis for the study of these disciplines while simultaneously also helping us understand our own place within a global context.

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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

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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

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Optional Courses

  • One or two of the following: Controversial Questions (PH1027); How Should One Live? (PH1522)
  • Select further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points
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

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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.

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Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses

Ideas and Ideologies in Politics and International Relations (PI2009) - 30 Credit Points

Ideas and ideologies are core to teaching, learning and research in Politics and International Relations. Theoretical developments are at the forefront of academic debates within the discipline, demonstrated by the appearance of a number of new approaches as more traditional theories have struggled to account for an ever changing world. This course will introduce students to these with profound questions and struggles over identity, belonging, justice and rights underpinning these theoretical debates.

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Global Politics: Equality and Inequality (PI2508) - 30 Credit Points

Equality and inequality are at the forefront of many debates within contemporary Politics and International Relations. This course will examine the historical context, theoretical underpinnings, and also key concepts which continue to uphold equality and inequality on a global scale.

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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.

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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

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Metaphysics, Epistemology and Language (PH2538) - 15 Credit Points

This course provides students with an introduction to central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic and philosophy of language. The emphasis is on introducing some of the central issues in these areas; issues that have shaped the contemporary debate. In addition to introducing a number of central issues in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and philosophy of language, this course also teaches and further develops a number of essential skills including extracting and evaluating philosophical arguments, critical writing, and the application of logical concepts to philosophical problems.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 15 credit points from courses of choice
Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses

Researching Into the 21st Century (PI3069) - 30 Credit Points

Research methods and techniques are fundamental to the study of Politics and International Relations. In addition, they are highly desired by employers. This course will introduce students to a number of different research techniques which they will use throughout their studies at Honours and in particular their Honours dissertation. Moreover, they will also constitute a significant part of their graduate attributes.

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Optional Courses

  • Select a further 60 credit points from level 3 courses in Philosophy
  • Select a further 30 credit points from level 3 courses in Politics & International Relations
Year 4

Year 4

Optional Courses

Option 1

  • Philosophy Dissertation (PH402D)
  • Select a further 30 credit points from level 3 and 4 courses in Philosophy
  • Select a further 60 credit points from level 4 courses in Politics & International Relations

Option 2

  • Dissertation (Politics) (PI4071)
  • Select a further 60 credit points from level 3 and 4 courses in Philosophy
  • Select a further 30 credit points from level 4 courses in Politics & International Relations
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.

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Dissertation (Politics) (PI4071) - 30 Credit Points

This course affords students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and research skills in the broad field of Politics & International Relations to an individual piece of research, focusing on a topic selected by the student and approved by the Dissertation supervisor. Over the course of the project, with guidance from a supervising member of staff, the student will conduct a literature review of relevant material, select appropriate research methods, gather data where necessary, analyse data, and write a final analysis in the form of the Dissertation. Particular emphasis will be given to helping students develop their own skills.

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Course Availability

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

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

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.

Why Study Philosophy and Politics?

Why Philosophy

  • 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 life’s challenges.
  • Philosophy is interesting! Students from all disciplines often report that studying Philosophy was the most rewarding experience of their studies.

Why Politics and International Relations

  • A core curriculum with topical themes of conflict and security, representation and democracy, comparative politics and policy.
  • Special focus on the Middle-East, Latin America, North and South Asia, the Nordic Countries, Central and Eastern Europe – as well as Scotland, the UK and the EU.
  • Staff with specialist expertise in political parties and elections, democracy, energy politics, European integration and regionalism, human rights and development issues, interest groups, nationalism, conflict resolution and more.
  • A vibrant Politics & International Relations Society – voted Aberdeen ‘Society of the Year’ for the last three years, and Best Event 2013-14 for The Legacy of Nelson Mandela.
  • Opportunities to take advantage of spending your second year studying abroad, in Europe, Japan, Hong Kong or North America.
  • The spectacular, award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library, combining a top-class study environment with state-of-the-art technology, and extensive reference collections for your studies.
  • A packed campus programme of events, seminars, invited speakers and the annual May festival, engaging prominent influencers, interest groups and public in debating major political issues such as Scottish independence and EU membership.
  • All the history and legacy of being part of a university developed over 500 years of national and international political turbulence, social change, and emerging democracy.

Entry Requirements

You will find all the information you require about entry requirements on our dedicated 'Entry Requirements' page. You can also find out about the different types of degrees, offers, advanced entry, and changing your subject.

Qualifications

SQA Highers - AABB
A Levels - BBB
IB - 32 points, including 5,5,5 at HL
ILC - 5H with 3 at H2 AND 2 at H3 OR AAABB, obtained in a single sitting. (B must be at B2 or above)

Further detailed entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees.

English Language Requirements

To study for a degree at the University of Aberdeen, it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

You will be classified as one of the fee categories below.

Fee Waiver

For international students (all non-EU students) entering in 2017/18, the 2017/18 tuition fee rate will apply to all years of study; however, most international students will be eligible for a fee waiver in their final year via the International Undergraduate Scholarship.

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.

Fee information
Fee category Cost
Home / EU £1,820
All Students
RUK £9,250
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year
International Students £15,000
Students Admitted in 2018/19 Academic Year

Additional Fees

  • 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.

Undergraduate Open Day

Our next Open Day will be on

Find out More

Careers

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 Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

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.

Key Information Set (KIS)

Unistats draws together comparable information in areas students have identified as important in making decisions about what and where to study. The core information it contains is called the Key Information Set.

You can compare these and other data for different degree programmes in which you are interested.

Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX