As a student of any of these degrees, you’ll be part of our friendly, informal and supportive college environment. From day one, you’ll be at the centre of our academic community – with around 30 undergraduates, plus tutors and postgraduate students in Philosophy degrees, it’s easy to get to know everyone in this mutually supportive subject group.
We’re committed to treating you as individuals, getting to know you, and helping you to progress both personally and academically during your degree. We’ll expert you to work hard but, if you love learning and thinking, then you will thrive. Leading professors from our Faculty of Philosophy – ranked as the best in Europe by QS University Rankings – will teach you throughout your time at Hertford.
The Hertford College Philosophical Society hosts regular events throughout the academic year, bringing all our students together. They organize dinners and visiting speakers as well as an annual trip to the Cotswolds for all Hertford Philosophy students. Staying in the lovely countryside near Stow-on-the-Wold, we chat, play games and discuss our work, sharing and supporting each other.
Teaching and learning
Most of your first year Philosophy teaching will be here in college, and will take the form of tutorials where one, two or three students work through their ideas with one of our leading tutors. We’ll help you to be an independent learner, giving you essays to prepare for tutorials so you can explore the material in your own way. You’ll become a better philosopher through having the chance to think of your own ideas and then discuss them in depth with highly experienced teachers and researchers.
You’ll also be taught in lectures organised by the Faculty of Philosophy and open to all students in your year group. As well as being one of your college tutors, Professor Peter Millican leads the Faculty lectures in General Philosophy – lectures provide a general understanding of an area and the chance to hear an expert’s personal perspective.
We prioritise your personal learning experience at Hertford and encourage you to express your own interests when choosing which courses to study. From your second year it’s likely that most of these will be taught by tutors from colleges throughout the University, meaning that you will always be working alongside experts in your field of study.
We’re proud of the high academic results consistently achieved by our students at Hertford. These results mean that many of our graduates are well-placed to continue on to competitive further study at Master’s, PhD or DPhil level.
You’ll also be able to develop many transferable skills during your degree, not least critical and logical thinking. Employers highly value these skills and our students’ academic credentials, meaning that a degree including Philosophy at Hertford will help to give you an advantage when pursuing careers in a broad range of sectors.
Making an application
We take all aspects of your application into account when making admissions decisions. If you’re shortlisted, you will be interviewed by tutors from both joint schools. There are no right or wrong answers in interviews – we’re looking to see how you think logically and analytically, how you can construct and defend an argument, and how you can think on your feet. We know you might be nervous, so we’ll do all we can to make you feel comfortable.
Joint Schools: Computer Science and Philosophy
3-year BA or 4-year integrated Master’s degree (MCompPhil)
Hertford played a fundamental role in establishing this exciting joint honours course in 2012 – our commitment to innovation continues today in our teaching and research. We have the largest number of Computer Science and Philosophy students in Oxford, and our teaching is led by Professor Peter Millican, who has over 20 years’ experience teaching both Philosophy and Computer Science at multiple universities.
Both subjects 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 areas as they develop innovative technologies. Philosophers need to understand them within a world increasingly shaped by computer technology, from the philosophy of artificial intelligence to the ethics of privacy.
Your first and second years will be roughly equally split between Computer Science and Philosophy, with considerable topic choice on both sides. In your third year, you can choose how to weight your degree and in the final Master’s year you can continue to study both subjects or specialise in just one.
The combination of technical and analytical skills which you’ll build throughout your degree are highly regarded by a wide range of employers – from those traditionally associated with Philosophy (such as administration, management and the Civil Service) to those requiring more technical expertise (including finance, software and computer consultancy).
If you’re interested in pursuing research at a higher level, your skills will be highly valued by a huge range of disciplines across the academic spectrum. Computer Science and Philosophy graduates are characterized by an open-mindedness and intellectual adaptability which is key in an increasingly interdisciplinary research and employment environment.
The combination of Philosophy and Modern Languages brings together fundamental ideas and understanding concerning language and literature. Our Philosophy and Modern Languages Faculties are two of the largest in the UK, offering you a wealth of resources and expertise. In your first year, you’ll split your time equally between the two subjects. In subsequent years in Oxford you can choose to balance the two disciplines as you wish through optional courses.
Joint Schools: Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE)
The combination of Philosophy, Politics and Economics was devised over 90 years ago, allowing students to study a broad and deep curriculum which engages with all aspects of society. The diverse PPE syllabus combines specialist technical training with cutting-edge social and political ideas, equipping you with transferable skills which can be applied to a huge range of careers.
At Hertford, we’ll help you to develop rigorous critical and analytical thought, logical reasoning and the ability to make complex ethical judgements. Our expert tutors are supported by over 200 subject specialists in the University. You’ll be able to work with these experts to hone your skills and inspire your intellectual development.
3-year BA or 4-year integrated Master’s degree (MPhysPhil)
The aim of this course is to investigate the long-standing connection between Physics and its foundations in metaphysics and the theory of knowledge, bridging the divide between arts and sciences. We will teach you both how to think like a scientist and to make cogent arguments like a philosopher, equipping you with a wide range of transferable skills for your future career.
Physics and Philosophy are given equal weight in this degree course – you will study the two subjects in parallel for three years before choosing how to specialise in your final year. You’ll also undertake inter-disciplinary work throughout your degree in the Philosophy of Physics, an extremely active research area at Oxford.