Bachelor in Philosophy

Bachelor in Philosophy


Students in the Bachelor of Philosophy work with a faculty mentor to develop an individually tailored undergraduate major that enables them to pursue academic and artistic discovery unavailable through traditional majors and program concentrations.  Each student completes a senior capstone project or thesis.  Students should apply for admission before their junior year.

The admissions process asks students to: identify and secure the support of a faculty member who will serve as a mentor and adviser; examine carefully whether their undergraduate educational goals can be met through an existing academic major, or whether doing so requires a unique program of courses and activities; develop a proposed course of study that provides the academic breadth and depth associated with the completion of a disciplinary major; and attend a Bachelor of Philosophy admissions interview during which each of these issues and others may be discussed.

Bachelor of Philosophy students must be self-motivated and able to engage in a sustained program of academic discovery culminating in a capstone project or thesis that is shared with others.  Students and their faculty mentors use the program to bring unique combinations of study and discovery, often interdisciplinary in nature, to bear on intellectual and artistic issues.  The Bachelor of Philosophy Degree Program is appropriate for the student whose intellectual or artistic approach to a way of knowing requires work beyond the scope or disciplinary approach associated with otherwise available majors.

Faculty mentors assist students in planning their academic programs and in achieving their Bachelor of Philosophy goals. A student’s written or oral presentations and courses, labs, fieldwork, theses, projects, and performances, may provide some of the means through which mentors direct the learning path to document academic success.

The Bachelor of Philosophy Degree Program is administered by an intercollege faculty committee working through the Office of Undergraduate Education.  The mentor need not be a member of the committee.  The intercollege faculty committee is responsible for admitting students, annually examining the progress of all students in the program, and approving the completion of degrees based on the certification made by a faculty mentor and the successful presentation of an appropriate capstone at a Bachelor of Philosophy seminar or other approved forum.




BPhil in Philosophy

The BPhil is an intellectually demanding postgraduate course, presupposing an undergraduate and/or graduate background in philosophy (or equivalent). It is not in general suitable as a conversion course for students changing to philosophy from another subject and it cannot be studied part-time or externally. It is regarded both as training for the DPhil and a basis for teaching a range of philosophical subjects and requires sustained and focused work over two years.

Candidates admitted for the BPhil will be taught through a combination of classes and one-to-one supervisions. Each candidate will be required to submit six assessed essays (of no more than 5,000 words each) across at least five subjects (with no more than two essays on any one subject), together with a thesis of up to 30,000 words.

The assessed essays must be chosen from three broad subject Groups: one essay must be on a subject from Group 1 (“Theoretical Philosophy”), one on a subject from Group 2 (“Practical Philosophy”), and two on a subject or subjects from Group 3 (“History of Philosophy”), of which at least one must be concerned with philosophy written before 1800. The precise list of subjects in the three groups will be published at the beginning of each year and will be tailored to the particular strengths of the Faculty members who will be teaching that year, but a typical list might be as follows:

Group 1: Metaphysics; Epistemology; Logic and Philosophy of Logic; Philosophy of Language; Philosophy of Mind; Philosophy of Religion; Philosophy of Probability and Decision Theory ; Philosophy of Science; Philosophy of Mathematics; Philosophy of Physics; Philosophy of Psychology and Cognitive Science.

Group 2: Normative and Applied Ethics; Meta-Ethics; Political Philosophy; Aesthetics; Philosophy of Law.

Group 3: Ancient Philosophy; Medieval Philosophy; Early Modern Philosophy; History of Philosophy from 1800 to 1950.

There will be provision for candidates to apply to submit up to two essays on at most one subject not included in the list of approved subjects.

During their first four terms of study, students will be offered one-to-one supervision on two chosen subjects: two supervisions per term, four supervisions per subject in total. A 'Pro-seminar' is held in the first term of the first year and covers classic papers in theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy. In every term, there will also be a wide range of specialised graduate seminars on offer. Students are expected to attend two graduate classes per term (not including the Pro-seminar) during the first four terms of study.

Students will be assessed continuously over the first four terms of study, with two essays submitted at the beginning of the third, fourth and fifth term. The thesis is submitted at the end of the sixth (and final) term. Students will be allocated a thesis supervisor, and can expect to receive two one-to-one supervisions on their thesis in each of their final two terms of study.

To be awarded the BPhil degree, students must achieve (i) a passing mark in six essays, which collectively must meet the distribution requirement described above; and (ii) a passing mark in the thesis. The lowest passing mark for the essays and the thesis is 60. 70 or more signifies distinction level for essays and thesis. Details of arrangements for the resubmission of failed work will be set out in the Graduate Student Handbook.

Candidates who achieve an overall distinction on the BPhil in Philosophy are automatically eligible to progress to the DPhil, provided only that the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee is satisfied that their proposed thesis topic and outline indicate that they can be adequately supervised by members of the Philosophy Faculty. Candidates who pass the BPhil without a distinction can be admitted to the DPhil at the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee’s discretion. To achieve a distinction, students must obtain an average of 70 or above on the five highest marks for the essays, with no essay mark falling below 63 and a mark of 70 or above on the thesis.

Ancient Philosophy Track in the BPhil

Oxford is widely acknowledged to contain one of the leading groups, arguably the leading group, of ancient philosophers in the world; ancient philosophy at Oxford is ranked top in the Philosophical Gourmet Report’s breakdown of programmes by speciality.

Students interested in Ancient Philosophy in particular might wish to note the possibility of an ‘Ancient Philosophy track’ in the BPhil in Philosophy, Oxford's flagship (two-year) postgraduate philosophy course. This is not a separate degree, but a way of studying Ancient Philosophy within the existing BPhil structure.

Students on such a track would write two of the six essays on Ancient Philosophy in Group 3 and the thesis would be written on some aspect of Ancient Philosophy. They would also tailor some of their chosen topics for Groups 1 or 2 appropriately to match their interest in issues arising from Ancient metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, etc. They may also apply to the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee for a waiver from one essay’s worth of the BPhil distribution requirement.

Those applying for the Ancient Philosophy track should state their intention clearly when applying.

Philosophy of Physics Track in the BPhil

Students interested in Philosophy of Physics might also wish to note the possibility of a ‘Philosophy of Physics track’ in the BPhil in Philosophy, Oxford's flagship (two-year) postgraduate philosophy course. This is not a separate course, but a way of studying Philosophy of Physics within the existing BPhil structure.

Students on such a track would study primarily philosophy of physics and philosophy of science in the first two terms, study more general philosophical topics in the third and fourth term, and write a 30,000-word thesis on philosophy of physics or philosophy of science in the final two terms. They may also apply to the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee for a waiver from one essay’s worth of the BPhil distribution requirement.

Applicants for the BPhil are normally expected to have studied philosophy at undergraduate level, but the Philosophy of Physics track is also suitable for students with a very strong physics background who wish to move into the philosophy of physics or science, as an alternative to the MSt in Philosophy of Physics.

Those applying for the Philosophy of Physics track should state their intention clearly when applying.


For all graduate courses in the Faculty of Philosophy, applications including all supporting material must be submitted by the closing date, for admission in the following October.

The application cycle for entry in October 2016 is now OPEN. The deadline for all graduate courses in the Faculty of Philosophy for October 2016 entry is 12 noon UK time on Friday 8 January 2016, and no late applications will be accepted. An Open Day will be held on Wednesday 19 March 2016 for all applicants who are offered a place on any Faculty of Philosophy graduate course for entry in October 2016. Applicants are not normally interviewed and late applications will not be considered.

The online application form and other application information are available from theApplying to Oxford website.

For an application to be considered, it needs to be complete with all required supporting documents and be submitted online or received by the Graduate Admissions and Funding Office by the specified deadline.