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Sociology and Philosophy

Sociology and Philosophy

BA
  • UCAS code LV35
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

This programme is currently under development and may be subject to change

The course

Our Department of Law and Criminology and Department of Politics, International Relations and Philosophy have excellent reputations for research and teaching. Studying sociology and philosophy here means that you will learn from internationally renowned experts who will share their research and experience so that you gain invaluable skills for your future career.

The degree brings the social sciences into conversation with a range of philosophical traditions from contemporary analytic philosophy to ancient Stoic thought and is perfect for you if you wish to benefit from thinking practically about how society works with the flexibility to choose philosophical subjects of particular interest to you.

The first and second year of this degree will see you studying a number of mandatory modules which will give you a good grounding in both sociology and philosophy. For your second year you will also study a number of optional modules from both sociology and philosophy whilst your third year will see you doing your dissertation in either sociology or philosophy as well as a number of optional modules, which may include Sociology of Health and Illness, Race, Ethnicity and Migration, Bioethics and Existentialist Ethics.

Our balanced approach to research and teaching guarantees high quality teaching from subject leaders, cutting edge materials and intellectually challenging debates. You will receive individual attention and flexibility to acquire expertise within your fields of interest.

Upon completion of the course you will have acquired:

  • An understanding of a range of social platforms and policy issues
  • Key critical thinking skills – you will be able to analyse and understand the assumptions which inform central philosophical traditions
  • The ability to argue convincingly in writing and orally

Core Modules

Year 1

You will take the following modules in Philosophy:

  • Introduction to Modern Philosophy
  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

  • In every aspect of our lives we are inundated by information and misinformation, claims and counter-claims: some people tell us we should believe this; others that we should believe that. Decisions have to be made; possible evidence has to be sifted; reasons have to be given; arguments have to be propounded; risks evaluated. All this requires the ability to reason critically: to distinguish between bad arguments and good ones, supporting evidence from mere distraction. Everybody has the basic ability to do this, but it is not always as developed we need it to be: and in this complex world being able to present your point forcefully and rationally is vitally important. The aim of this module is to help you develop the skills required to get the most out of their degree and beyond. 

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

You will take the following modules in Sociology:

  • This module introduces you to key classical and contemporary social theories, including the ‘founding fathers’ of continental European sociology (Durkheim, Marx, and Weber) and the originators of US sociology (including Parsons, Goffman, and Garfunkel).

  • This module explores contemporary social issues, including poverty, inequality, unemployment and discrimination. You will learn about the foundations of the welfare state as well as social policies in areas such as education, housing, health and family life. Key questions to be discussed include: What are the most important social problems in contemporary society? Is the welfare state in crisis? Why are young people more vulnerable to unemployment? How does the media influence our perceptions of social problems?

Year 2

You will take the following modules in Philosophy:

  • The module looks at key texts by Immanuel Kant which are the foundation of Modern European Philosophy. These texts raise questions concerning the status of human knowledge and the nature and justification of human action that have concerned philosophers ever since. The module considers Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. The core theme of the module is how philosophy responds to the situation in which it can no longer rely on theological support for its claims about truth and morality. This raises questions about the nature of the human subject that are evident in the conjunction of the massive success of the modern natural sciences with an abiding worry as to whether sceptical objections to establishing true knowledge can be overcome. Kant sees these issues in terms of 'transcendental philosophy' establishing the limits of knowledge by seeing what the necessary conditions of knowledge are.

     

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

You will take the following modules in Sociology:

  • This module provides you with a sociological analysis of contemporary society, helping you to understand major social and economic changes in the contemporary world through key sociological debates concerning, amongst others, the changing nature of the organisation of production and the changing nature of class. You will also examine the transformation of cultural forms in contemporary society and apply these theories to contemporary social issues.

Year 3

You will take the following modules in Philosophy:

  • All modules are optional

You will take the following modules in Sociology:

  • All modules are optional

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • All modules are core
Year 2

Choose will choose from the following Sociology and Philosophy modules:

  • This module provides you with an introduction to the philosophical issues in social research. You will look at ethics in social research and theory, quantitative versus qualitative methods, sampling, observation, interviewing, media analysis, and questionnaire design. You will be given the opportunity to work through the research process on a topic of independent study of your choosing.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the key developments of the Twentieth Century French philosophical tradition. You will look at how the French tradition developed as an alternative approach to philosophical problems on the basis of the perceived failure of classical analytical approaches. You will engage with a number of theorists, studying key texts in depth, further developing your ability to express, question, and justify theories, both dialogically, and in writing. You will assess arguments presented by Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze.

Year 3

Optional modules in Philosophy may include:

  • Philosophy and Literature
  • The aim of this module is to consider the main directions of eighteenth-century and post-Kantian aesthetics, in particular the issues that have arisen about what it means to consider objects—whether art or nature—aesthetically, and an analysis of concepts bound up with this “aesthetic attitude”, such as disinterestedness, beauty and the sublime. Each week will focus on one issue surrounding the question of taste, of judgements of beauty and the sublime and of the aesthetic experience, from Hume, through Kant, to the present day. Particularly attention will be paid to non-artistic aesthetic experiences, such as those of the natural world, and, as much as feasible, attention will also be paid to art and aesthetics produced outside the modern European tradition, such as aesthetics in the Islamic world. 

  • The module will provide the opportunity for you to apply theoretical skills developed in relation to philosophy of art and aesthetics to practical problems in some of the following domains: curating, gallery education, artistic practice, art criticism and the management of cultural institutions. After an initial five weeks of theoretical discussions around historical and contemporary art, you will work closely with the curators of Royal Holloway's art collection to gain familiarity with and apply knowledge and skills to the exhibition of and reflection on situated artworks.

  • German idealism sets itself the task of satisfying three main aims: systematizing Kant’s philosophy by finding necessary premises for its conclusions; providing a rigorous demonstration of the laws of thought; and ensuring that satisfying these aims satisfies the third aim of proving that reason is not the product of a purposeless, mechanistic world, but is itself an absolutely free purposive activity. This module investigates Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit as an attempt to satisfy these aims. We will explore Hegel’s distinctive and influential criticisms of Kant, his development of dialectic as a method of deriving the laws of thought, and his argument that reason is absolutely free. We will pay special attention to his successive, unfolding theses for the essentially self-conscious character of consciousness, the essentially recognitive character of self-consciousness, and the essentially historical character of recognition.

We use a variety of methods of teaching and assessment, including:

  1. Personal tutor in Sociology and designated staff liaison in Philosophy
  2. 50% modules in Sociology and 50% modules in Philosophy
  3. Lectures, seminars, small-group tutorials, workshops, fieldtrips, etc
  4. Diverse assessment methods from essays and exams to multiple choice questions, reports, reflective logs and oral presentations
  5. Emphasis on continuous feedback both orally and in writing

A Levels: ABB-BBB

Required subjects:

  • At least five GCSEs at grade A*-C or 9-4 including English and Mathematics.

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ alongside A - levels, the EPQ will be taken into consideration and result in lower A-level grades being required. Socio - economic factors which may have impacted an applicant's education will be taken into consideration and alternative offers may be made to these applicants.

English language requirements

All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.

The scores we require
  • IELTS: 6.5 overall with 6.0 in reading and writing, no other sub score less than 5.5.
  • Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. 54 in writing. 54 in Reading. No subscore lower than 51.
  • Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
  • Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.

Country-specific requirements

For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please visit here.

For international students who do not meet the direct entry requirements, we offer an International Foundation Year, run by Study Group at the Royal Holloway International Study Centre. Upon successful completion, you may progress on to selected undergraduate degree programmes at Royal Holloway, University of London.

A sociology and philosophy at Royal Holloway can lead into a variety of career paths. It not only promotes academic achievement and employability but will see you learning to approach problems in a rigorous and analytical way, and to develop your abilities to communicate and debate in both speech and writing.

Home (UK) students tuition fee per year*: £9,250

EU and International students tuition fee per year**: £17,700

Other essential costs***: TBC

How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loansscholarships and bursaries. UK students who have already taken out a tuition fee loan for undergraduate study should check their eligibility for additional funding directly with the relevant awards body.

*The tuition fee for UK undergraduates is controlled by Government regulations. For students starting a degree in the academic year 2020/21, the fee will be £9,250 for that year. The fee for UK undergraduates starting in 2021/22 has not yet been confirmed.

**The Government has confirmed that EU nationals starting a degree in 2020/21 will pay the same fee as UK students for the duration of their course. For EU nationals starting a degree in 2021/22, the UK Government has recently confirmed that you will not be eligible to pay the same fees as UK students, nor be eligible for funding from the Student Loans Company. This means you will be classified as an international student. At Royal Holloway, we wish to support those students affected by this change in status through this transition. For eligible EU students starting their course with us in September 2021, we will award an automatic fee reduction which brings your fee into line with the fee paid by UK students. This will apply for the duration of your course.

Fees for international students may increase year-on-year in line with the rate of inflation. The policy at Royal Holloway is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see fees and funding and our terms and conditions. Fees shown above are for 2020/21 and are displayed for indicative purposes only.

***These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing etc., have not been included.

Accreditation

Solicitors Regulation Authority

On successful completion of this programme you may satisfy the requirements of the Solicitors Regulation Authority / Bar Standards Board to obtain a Qualifying Law Degree.

Law, Criminology and Sociology Undergraduate Admissions

 

 

Admissions office: +44 (0)1784 414944

93% of our graduates are employed or go on to further study within six months of graduating

Source: DLHE, 2018

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