Computer Science and Philosophy

A new and exciting degree programme

Computer Science and Philosophy is a new degree programme in Oxford, with the first cohort starting in 2012, and Hertford College is very strongly committed to it, with more places available (up to four per year) than at any other college. Peter Millican, Gilbert Ryle Fellow and Professor of  Philosophy, previously lectured in both Computer Science and Philosophy for 20 years at Leeds, and was largely responsible for creating this new programme. He will be overseeing it at Hertford, taking overall responsibility on both sides, and will also be giving the University lectures on the first year “bridge” course – Turing on Computability and Intelligence – which has been specially designed to integrate the two halves of the degree.

There are many links between the two subjects: both share a broad focus on the representation of information and rational inference, embracing common interests in algorithms, cognition, intelligence, language, models, proof, and verification. Computer Scientists need to be able to reflect critically and philosophically about these, as they push forward into novel domains. Philosophers need to understand them within a world increasingly shaped by computer technology, in which a whole new range of enquiry has opened up, from the philosophy of AI, artificial life and computation, to the ethics of privacy and intellectual property, to the epistemology of computer models.

Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied for either three years, leading to a BA, or for four years, leading to a Masters degree (MCompPhil). Students choose in their third year whether to stay on for the fourth year. The degree brings together relevant courses from both subjects, concentrating on those close to the interface.