BPhil in Philosophy
About the course
The Bachelor of Philosophy (BPhil) in Philosophy is a two-year, full-time taught graduate degree, which is an intellectually demanding course requiring a background in philosophy, usually from undergraduate study.
The BPhil in Philosophy requires a great degree of independence of thought from students, both academically as well as organisationally: students have to put together their own programme of classes, supervisions and topics for assessment. It is regarded both as training for doctoral study and a basis for teaching a range of philosophical subjects. This course is not available in part-time mode of study and is not offered via distance learning.
The main purpose of the BPhil is to provide future doctoral students with:
- a basis of knowledge and understanding of a number of philosophy subjects that they can develop into areas of teaching competence;
- the skills to conduct independent research in philosophy in their chosen area; and
- the ability to produce written work that displays sustained argument, independent thought and lucid structure and presentation.
Tuition on the BPhil is through a combination of classes, one-to-one supervisions and independent research.
The Pro-Seminar introduces incoming BPhil students to graduate study by covering important papers in various areas of philosophy.
You will also be required to attend graduate classes during the first four terms of study. Graduate classes are normally provided across a range of areas covered by the BPhil syllabus. You may also attend any other classes, seminars and lectures in the Faculty of Philosophy which are of interest to you and any classes, seminars and lectures in other faculties that are open to you.
The course has no fieldwork, industrial placement or year abroad element, but students may decide to attend conferences, workshops or research training elsewhere.
If you are interested in ancient philosophy or the philosophy of physics you may wish to study the specific pathways for these subjects in the BPhil in Philosophy. These are not separate courses, but a way of maximising the study of these topics within the existing BPhil structure. A student on these tracks would study primarily ancient philosophy or the philosophy of physics/science during the first four terms and go on to write a 30,000-word thesis on an ancient philosophy or philosophy of physics/science topic in the final two terms.
During the first four terms of study you should receive sixteen hours of one-to-one supervision. Prior to each supervision, you will agree a topic in consultation with your supervisor and write an essay that will be discussed with your supervisor in the supervision. In the last two terms of study, you will research and write a 30,000-word thesis, under the guidance of a supervisor with relevant subject expertise.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Philosophy, and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. However, incoming students’ supervision preferences are accommodated where possible. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Philosophy.
BPhil examination is by submission of a thesis and six assessed essays across a range of philosophical subjects. The thesis will be on a topic of your choice, approved by the Graduate Studies Committee.
BPhil in Philosophy graduates often progress to doctoral programmes, either at the University of Oxford or elsewhere. At the time of publication, BPhil students who progress to the DPhil in Philosophy programme at the University of Oxford have the advantage of skipping the first year of the DPhil as a Probationary Research Student and being allowed, though not obliged, to incorporate the contents of their entire 30,000-word BPhil thesis into their 75,000-word DPhil thesis. Such students also have only another six terms (instead of the usual nine terms) of fee liability for their DPhil. BPhil students must apply for a place on the DPhil in exactly the same way as non-BPhil applicants, and they are evaluated through the same application process.
Many BPhil graduates, however, have pursued non-philosophical academic careers, or careers outside academia, including banking, information technology, law, management consultancy, teaching and public service. The graduate destinations of BPhil students is available on the BPhil alumni webpages.
The Faculty of Philosophy aims to assist students and graduates in securing academic jobs. It appoints a Placement Officer who, in conjunction with the Graduate Studies Officer, runs the placement scheme. The Placement Officer also helps job applicants with the preparation of their CVs, provides advice about the presentation of material in an application dossier and arranges practice interviews.
Changes to this course and your supervision
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration.
It may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, parental leave or change in employment.
For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Other courses you may wish to consider
If you're thinking about applying for this course, you may also wish to consider the courses listed below. These courses may have been suggested due to their similarity with this course, or because they are offered by the same department or faculty.
Courses suggested by the faculty
Philosophical Theology MSt
Philosophical Theology MPhil
Politics (Political Theory) MPhil
Theology and Religion DPhil
All graduate courses offered by the Faculty of Philosophy
Entry requirements for entry in 2023-24
Proven and potential academic excellence
As a minimum, applicants should hold or be predicted to achieve the following UK qualifications or their equivalent:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in philosophy or a closely related discipline.
However, entrance is very competitive and most successful applicants have a first-class degree or the equivalent.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0. However, most successful applicants have a GPA of 3.7.
If your degree is not from the UK or another country specified above, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
GRE General Test scores
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
You are not required to have any publications but these may be an advantage as admission to the course is very competitive.
Students who achieve a distinction in their BPhil are eligible for progression to the DPhil in Philosophy, subject to a complete application being made and provided 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 Faculty of Philosophy. Students who pass the BPhil without a distinction may apply and be admitted to the DPhil at the Committee’s discretion.
All applications are assessed by the Faculty of Philosophy's Graduate Studies Committee at the same time, after the application deadline has passed, and offers are made on a strictly comparative basis. Applications come from all over the world and intake on the BPhil reflects this.
The BPhil is not suitable as a conversion course for students changing to philosophy from another subject.
English language proficiency
This course requires proficiency in English at the University's higher level. If your first language is not English, you may need to provide evidence that you meet this requirement. The minimum scores required to meet the University's higher level are detailed in the table below.
|Test||Minimum overall score||Minimum score per component|
|IELTS Academic (Institution code: 0713)||7.5||7.0|
TOEFL iBT, including the 'Home Edition'
(Institution code: 0490)
*Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English or Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE)
†Previously known as the Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English or Cambridge English: Proficiency (CPE)
Your test must have been taken no more than two years before the start date of your course. Our Application Guide provides further information about the English language test requirement.
Declaring extenuating circumstances
If your ability to meet the entry requirements has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic (eg you were awarded an unclassified/ungraded degree) or any other exceptional personal circumstance (eg other illness or bereavement), please refer to the guidance on extenuating circumstances in the Application Guide for information about how to declare this so that your application can be considered appropriately.
You will need to register three referees who can give an informed view of your academic ability and suitability for the course. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the types of reference that are required in support of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including an official transcript and a CV/résumé. The How to apply section of this page provides details of the supporting documents that are required as part of your application for this course and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
How your application is assessed
Your application will be assessed purely on your proven and potential academic excellence and other entry requirements published under that heading. References and supporting documents submitted as part of your application, and your performance at interview (if interviews are held) will be considered as part of the assessment process.
An overview of the shortlisting and selection process is provided below. Our 'After you apply' pages provide more information about how applications are assessed.
Shortlisting and selection
Students are considered for shortlisting and selected for admission without regard to age, disability, gender reassignment, marital or civil partnership status, pregnancy and maternity, race (including colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins), religion or belief (including lack of belief), sex, sexual orientation, as well as other relevant circumstances including parental or caring responsibilities or social background. However, please note the following:
- socio-economic information may be taken into account in the selection of applicants and award of scholarships for courses that are part of the University’s pilot selection procedure and for scholarships aimed at under-represented groups;
- country of ordinary residence may be taken into account in the awarding of certain scholarships; and
- protected characteristics may be taken into account during shortlisting for interview or the award of scholarships where the University has approved a positive action case under the Equality Act 2010.
Whether or not you have secured funding will not be taken into consideration when your application is assessed.
Processing your data for shortlisting and selection
Admissions panels and assessors
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgement of at least two members of the academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent within the department).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
Other factors governing whether places can be offered
The following factors will also govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- the ability of the University to provide the appropriate supervision for your studies, as outlined under the 'Supervision' heading in the About section of this page;
- the ability of the University to provide appropriate support for your studies (eg through the provision of facilities, resources, teaching and/or research opportunities); and
- minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to the University's taught and research programmes.
Offer conditions for successful applications
If you receive an offer of a place at Oxford, your offer will outline any conditions that you need to satisfy and any actions you need to take, together with any associated deadlines. These may include academic conditions, such as achieving a specific final grade in your current degree course. These conditions will usually depend on your individual academic circumstances and may vary between applicants. Our After you apply pages provide more information about offers and conditions.
In addition to any academic conditions which are set, you will also be required to meet the following requirements:
If you are offered a place, you will be required to complete a Financial Declaration in order to meet your financial condition of admission.
Disclosure of criminal convictions
In accordance with the University’s obligations towards students and staff, we will ask you to declare any relevant, unspent criminal convictions before you can take up a place at Oxford.
Oxford is one of the world’s great centres for philosophy, and is widely recognised to be amongst the best. In the most recent Philosophical Gourmet Report (2021-22), Oxford University’s Faculty of Philosophy was once again ranked top in the list of Philosophy Faculties in the United Kingdom and still ranked second in the overall ranking of philosophy faculties in the English Speaking World. More than 150 professional philosophers work in the University and its colleges, between them covering a vast range of subjects within philosophy, and many are international leaders in their fields.
Many philosophy subjects at Oxford are ranked highly in the most recent Philosophical Gourmet Report’s breakdown of programmes by speciality (2021-22): philosophy of language, metaphysics, epistemology, philosophical logic, normative ethics, metaethics and moral psychology, applied ethics, political philosophy, philosophy of law, philosophy of art, philosophy of physics, decision & rational choice, & game theory, ancient philosophy, 18th century early modern philosophy and 20th century continental philosophy.
The Philosophy Centre in the Radcliffe Humanities building on Woodstock Road acts as a focal point for the Faculty of Philosophy’s activities and contains, as well as lecturing and teaching space, a graduate study room and a graduate common room. A wireless network runs throughout the Philosophy Centre.
The centre also contains the Philosophy Library, with over 25,000 volumes, a collection of approximately 80 periodicals, online access to many philosophical databases, and librarians trained in the specific bibliographic needs of philosophers. Many college libraries also have extensive holdings in philosophy.
Each term many graduate classes and research seminars are organised by faculty members in which graduate students are full and important participants.
Graduates are encouraged to organise their own seminars and reading groups, and they also run two societies: one invites distinguished speakers from the UK and around the world, while another gives graduates the opportunity to present papers to a graduate audience.
Each year there is an Oxford Graduate Philosophy Conference, in which most graduate philosophy students participate in some way.
The University expects to be able to offer around 1,000 full or partial graduate scholarships across the collegiate University in 2023-24. You will be automatically considered for the majority of Oxford scholarships, if you fulfil the eligibility criteria and submit your graduate application by the relevant December or January deadline. Most scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic merit and/or potential.
For further details about searching for funding as a graduate student visit our dedicated Funding pages, which contain information about how to apply for Oxford scholarships requiring an additional application, details of external funding, loan schemes and other funding sources.
Please ensure that you visit individual college websites for details of any college-specific funding opportunities using the links provided on our college pages or below:
Please note that not all the colleges listed above may accept students on this course. For details of those which do, please refer to the College preference section of this page.
Further information about funding opportunities for this course can be found on the faculty's website.
Annual fees for entry in 2023-24
Annual Course fees
Further details about fee status eligibility can be found on the fee status webpage.
Information about course fees
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on changes to fees and charges.
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below.
Where can I find further information about fees?
The Fees and Funding section of this website provides further information about course fees, including information about fee status and eligibility and your length of fee liability.
The Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee has a research and travel fund for graduate students to which students may apply for assistance with, for example, the costs of attending conferences or workshops. BPhil and MSt students may only apply for funding if they are presenting a paper. Probationary Research Students and DPhil students are entitled to apply for funding to attend a workshop, conference, etc, whether or not they are presenting a paper.
There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs. However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2023-24 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,290 and £1,840 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2023-24, it is suggested that you allow for potential increases in living expenses of 5% or more each year – although this rate may vary significantly depending on how the national economic situation develops. UK inflationary increases will be kept under review and this page updated.
All graduate students at Oxford belong to a department or faculty and a college or hall (except those taking non-matriculated courses). If you apply for a place on this course you will have the option to express a preference for one of the colleges listed below, or you can ask us to find a college for you. The Colleges section of this website provides information about the college system at Oxford, as well as factors you may wish to consider when deciding whether to express a college preference. Please note that ‘college’ and ‘colleges’ refers to all 45 of the University’s colleges, including those designated as Permanent Private Halls (PPHs).
For some courses, the department or faculty may have provided some additional advice below to help you to decide. Whatever you decide, it won’t affect how the academic department assesses your application and whether they decide to make you an offer. If your department makes you an offer of a place, you’re guaranteed a place at one of our colleges.
The following colleges accept students on the BPhil in Philosophy:
Before you apply
Our guide to getting started provides general advice on how to prepare for and start your application. Check the deadlines on this page and the information about deadlines in our Application Guide. If it's important for you to have your application considered under a particular deadline – eg under a December or January deadline in order to be considered for Oxford scholarships – we recommend that you aim to complete and submit your application at least two weeks in advance.
Application fee waivers
An application fee of £75 is payable per course application. Application fee waivers are available for the following applicants who meet the eligibility criteria:
- applicants from low-income countries;
- refugees and displaced persons;
- UK applicants from low-income backgrounds; and
- applicants who applied for our Graduate Access Programmes in the past two years and met the eligibility criteria.
You are encouraged to check whether you're eligible for an application fee waiver before you apply.
Do I need to contact anyone before I apply?
You do not need to make contact with the department before you apply but you are encouraged to visit the relevant departmental webpages to read any further information about your chosen course.
Completing your application
You should refer to the information below when completing the application form, paying attention to the specific requirements for the supporting documents. If any document does not meet the specification, including the stipulated word count, your application may be considered incomplete and not assessed by the academic department. Expand each section to show further details.
Three overall, academic preferred
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Academic references are usually required. However, if you have been out of education for a long time, or if you have substantial relevant working experience, then a maximum of one professional reference may replace an academic reference, provided that it speaks to your ability to undertake philosophy studies at graduate level.
Your references should support success in current or previous studies and a likelihood of success in the BPhil in Philosophy. In particular, references should provide evidence of outstanding academic achievement, intellectual ability and strong motivation for the intended graduate course.
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Your CV should clearly state the overall grade that you have achieved in each university-level qualification you have undertaken, corresponding to the grades on your transcript. This should be stated as a percentage mark or as a GPA or in the format provided on your transcript.
Enter the same grade in the box labelled "Actual/Expected Result" in the application form.
For example, if you obtained a First Class degree with an average mark of 72.3, record the Actual/Expected Result as 72.3. If you graduated magna cum laude with a GPA of 3.8/4.0, record the Actual/Expected Result as 3.8/4.0.
If the course is still in progress, you should state both your average grade in assessments to date (if any) and your expected grade. The average grade should be stated as a percentage mark or as a GPA or in the format provided on your transcript.
Enter both grades in the box labelled "Actual/Expected Result" prefixing your average grade to date with the letter "A" and your expected result with the letter "E".
For example, if your average grade to date is 68.9 but you expect to obtain a First Class degree overall, with an average grade of at least 70, record the Actual/Expected Result as A68.9 E70+. If your GPA to date is 4.1/4.33 and this is what you expect to achieve overall, record the Actual/Expected Result as A4.1/4.33 E4.1/4.33.
Statement of purpose/personal statement:
A maximum of 500 words
You should submit a statement in English explaining your motivation for applying for the course, in which you may wish to consider the following questions:
- why are you applying to this particular programme of study?
- what relevant academic and/or research experience do you have?
- which areas of study within the subject interest you?
- why would you be an excellent candidate for this course?
- how does this course fit in with your future career plans?
This will be assessed for evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study.
Your statement should focus on philosophy, rather than personal, extra-curricular achievements and interests.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
Either one essay of between 4,000 and 5,000 words or two essays of between 2,000 and 2,500 words each
Your written work(s) should be academic essays or other writing samples on philosophical topics. All essays should be recent and not of a primarily expository nature.
Written work should be typed, written in English and clearly marked with your name and the date of composition. The word count does not need to include the end bibliography. Footnotes and in-text referencing are included.
If possible, please ensure that the word count is clearly displayed on the document.
This will be assessed for:
- clarity and accuracy of thought and writing
- intellectual independence
- willingness and ability to reach conclusions by reasoned argument rather than assertion
- a critical and attentive reading of any texts discussed
- understanding of philosophical ideas and theories
- if required by the topic of the work, appropriate technical skills.
Instructions for submitting one long piece of work instead of two short pieces
To submit one longer piece of work in your application instead of two shorter pieces, you should upload this document in the first 'Written work' slot on the 'Supporting Documents' tab of the Application Form. In the second 'Written work' slot, you should upload a PDF document with the following statement:
'I have included one long essay in lieu of two short essays. I have checked the course page to confirm this is permitted for this course.'
Start or continue your application
You can start or return to an application using the relevant link below. As you complete the form, please refer to the requirements above and consult our Application Guide for advice. You'll find the answers to most common queries in our FAQs.