Philosophy and Ethics and Sociology

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Truth, knowledge, meaning, reality – ask and answer crucial questions with this course.

  • Global – study philosophy from Western and Eastern perspectives
  • Contemporary – explore current debates, dilemmas and approaches
  • Applied – use philosophical concepts in real time, on real world projects

“I have been challenged, supported, and inspired during my time here ... My way of thinking has been changed by what I've studied, and I can happily say that I have become a confident critical thinker, and a more thoughtful human being.”
– Jessica Tamsin Milton, Philosophy with English Literature student

Why study Philosophy and Ethics?

 This Philosophy and Ethics course explores the assumptions, beliefs and values which shape human behaviour and our responses to it. You’ll explore our relationships with the natural world and our attitudes towards the past and in the present.

The course addresses the key questions which underpin all academic disciplines and concepts, so combines well with other subjects, contributing to your confidence in tackling them.

You must study another subject with Philosophy and Ethics; it’s offered as a Major, Joint or Minor component of a Combined Honours award. You can choose from a wide range of disciplines and build expertise in a related area or from a different perspective. Popular combinations include Psychology, Geography, History and Creative Writing. If you would like to take this with Study of Religions, you should apply for Religions, Philosophy and Ethics.

Course structure

Rather than teaching philosophy primarily as a history of ideas – although we do explore this – we focus on the application of current philosophical thinking in contemporary settings and circumstances. You’ll consider our responses to environmental crisis, for example, or questions of identity, belonging, roles and responsibilities.

We consider Western philosophical and ethical perspectives, and introduce you to the systems of thought of India and China. This mix and inclusiveness makes our Philosophy and Ethics course particularly distinctive.

Modules

  • Year One
    We introduce you to the principles of philosophical and ethical enquiry. We’ll equip you with some basic methods to philosophically analyse and critically examine core concepts in epistemology, metaphysics and ethics. There is an optional module in global religions and philosophy which looks at major traditions, movements and key thinkers.
  • Year Two
    You’ll focus on philosophy in the Indian and Chinese traditions. Optional modules explore ethics within humanist and religious traditions, medical ethics and social justice, and environmental politics and nonhuman rights.
  • Year Three
    You’ll bring together and develop philosophical ideas through the study of morality, identity, or gender. There are opportunities for in-depth study through a dissertation or an employment related project.

Course assessment

Assessment is mainly through coursework such as essays, projects, presentations, or online discussion.

Study abroad

Our students make good use of the opportunities to study abroad through Erasmus and other programmes, usually in the second year, with one of our many partner universities. You’ll be able to find out more about this during your first year, including meeting up with students who have already benefited from the experience.

If you opt to join one of the study abroad programmes, you might find yourself in Denmark, Spain, Australia or North America. We have developing partnerships with universities in China and the Far East.

Field trips

Fieldwork and visits are an integral part of the course. We visit religious communities, mosques, temples, gurdwaras and churches.

Teaching methods

Our focus is on ‘doing philosophy’ and developing your confidence and capacity for philosophical analysis and debate. We’ll support you through lectures and seminar work, as well as individual tutorials and support.

Special projects in years two and three and the dissertation in year three provide opportunities for independent work which builds on your own interests, adds new dimensions to your thinking, or relates to plans for future careers and personal development.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

Please contact our Admissions team (see above)

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

Philosophy and Ethics develops many skills valued by employers such as clarity and precision in thinking, the ability to recognise unnoticed assumptions, the expertise to present a strong case, and to see the ethical issues involved in everyday decisions. Graduate careers for which Philosophy is good preparation include: law, civil service, local government, journalism, financial institutions, management, and IT. Some of some of our students have gone on to teach Religious Education, Philosophy and/or Citizenship in secondary or primary schools, where there is a shortage of specialists. Others have gone on to further academic study.

Since 2010, employers such as Global Xchange. Ethicall, Citizens' Advice Bureau and Birmingham University have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Healthcare Assistant, Fundraiser,  Children's Home Activities Coordinator and Assistant to the Communications Director.

What students say...

Lindsay Horler, Philosophy & Ethics with Study of Religions, Year 3:

“I chose to study this particular course because I was interested in studying Eastern as well as Western philosophy, and Bath Spa is probably the only University in the UK which offers such an in-depth enquiry into Eastern philosophical thought. While studying Philosophy & Ethics with Study of Religions at Bath Spa I have not only enhanced my intellectual skills, but I have also developed as a person. By thinking critically about philosophical ideas from Anglo-American, European and global perspectives, I have been able to think critically about my own philosophical beliefs.

What I enjoy most about Bath Spa University is that I can speak to my course tutors whenever I have questions to do with my course, or anything else for that matter.”

A course for individuals interested in social issues, who want to help make the world a better place.

  • In our fast-changing world, Sociology is exciting, relevant and provides important skills
  • Sociology helps you become more informed and to think smarter
  • You’ll learn how to think creatively, to problems solve and make better decisions

“Sociology helps me piece things together and see the world how it really is. The campus at Bath Spa is beautiful! It’s a really peaceful place to think and the lecturers are passionate about what they teach.”
– Kirsty Taylor, Sociology student

Why study Sociology?

Do you want to know more about the world we live in? Do you care about the world and want to make a difference? If so, you’re well-suited to this Sociology course.

Sociology is the study of societies, cultures, and groups. We live in complex societies with laws and informal rules that govern how we interact. Sociology helps you to understand more about yourself, others and the way society is organised.

Course structure

You’re taught about society, social groups and social organisation. You’ll learn about social problems and social policies. You’ll be able to make sense of social change and conflict. You’ll have a good understanding of social differences, inequalities and social divisions. You’ll be able to apply your knowledge and skills to specific problems and issues to help you to be good decision-maker

Modules

  • Year 1
    You’ll be introduced to Sociology as well as to the techniques and philosophies of the social sciences. You will focus on identities – starting out thinking about your own identity then building your knowledge and understanding so that you are more familiar with social divisions, social structures and the influence of culture. You’ll also learn how to visualize the most important components of society.
  • Year 2
    The second year builds on the first and enables you to begin to learn about the history and important ideas in Sociology. You can also specialise in more specific areas of Sociology such as education, crime, work, age and gender. You also get practical training in research skills – formulating and implementing a research strategy, analysing findings, using evidence to reach an informed conclusion – these are the essential problem solving skills that enable you to complete your final year project and also for the kind of employment that you’ll typically undertake as a sociology graduate.
  • Year 3
    You’ll concentrate on an aspect of sociology that most interests you in a dissertation with the support of a member of staff as a supervisor. You can also focus on more detailed subjects such as globalisation, the state, health, families, the environment or ethnicity and racism.

Course assessment

Assessments vary and include essays, reports, book and article reviews, seen and unseen examinations, web wikis, portfolios, projects, learning journals, individual and group work, videos and screencasts, research projects.

Sociology at Bath Spa provides plenty of choice within a flexible structure with opportunities to gain a good general grounding in a broad range of social science subjects. This can be an advantage if you’re not quite sure exactly what you want to study.

Teaching methods

Study abroad

We have opportunities for you to study abroad through our Erasmus+ Sociology links. We also offer you other overseas learning opportunities including an optional international field trip to India in your second year.

Field trips

We run optional visits to places such as criminal justice institutions and religious places of worship. You can take a dedicated field-trip module.

Work placements, industry links and internships

We have a wide range of placement opportunities, links with professionals and we invite our sociology graduates back to meet with you. Optional modules have links with professionals and visiting speakers built into the teaching and learning. This means you’ll learn about the real-world application of what you're learning and make more informed decisions about your future career.

Application method

All full time applications are through UCAS

Course enquiries

To contact the department directly, please call Rosemary McKechnie on 0122 587 5599 or e-mail: r.mckechnie@bathspa.ac.uk

Entry requirements

260–300 UCAS Tariff points.

Career opportunities

A Sociology degree is useful for any career that involves working with people, either in the private, public or 'third' sectors, typically:

  • Management or administration in the public or private sector
  • Human resource management or marketing
  • Media or journalism
  • Social work
  • Health education or nursing
  • Law
  • The police
  • Penal institutions
  • Probation and working with offenders
  • Work in the voluntary sector
  • Social research

Since 2011, employers such as the National Osteoporosis Society, the Ministry of Defence, Wiltshire Council and Truro College have recruited graduates from this course. Students have also gone into roles including Assistant Education Officer, Student Services Assistant and Relocation Advisor.

What students say...

Graduate profile: Anna Brent, graduated 2004

“I studied Sociology alongside Study of Religions. After a year in recruitment I decided to move into HR to focus on more of the ‘people’ aspect, and got a job as a HR Administrator at KPMG. I am now a HR Business Advisor and continue to work and enjoy my time there.

I look back at my three years at Bath Spa with a smile. There were some turbulent times, financially, meeting deadlines and dealing with the mix of different personalities, but overall the experience made me stronger and prepared me well for the world of work in building relationships, managing my income and helping to organise and prioritise my work. After 10 years I am very proud to say that all the girls I living with in hall of residence we are all still friends and have attended each other’s weddings and see each other at 2–3 times a year. You all hold a special bond with the people you go to university with.”