Philosophy is the most ancient of academic disciplines, and Cambridge is an excellent place to study it. The so-called ‘analytic’ school of philosophy originated in Cambridge in the early 20th century, when Russell, Moore, and Wittgenstein were here. Today, the Philosophy course is among the most rigorous and rewarding in the world, and the Cambridge Faculty is ranked among the very best Philosophy departments in the UK for both teaching and research.
If you read Philosophy at Cambridge, you’d take one or more parts of the Cambridge Philosophy Tripos, probably the most rigorous undergraduate Philosophy course in the world. The Tripos is run by the Faculty of Philosophy and you would attend the same lectures, seminars and discussion groups, and sit the same University exams as students from all other Cambridge colleges. In addition, each college provides individual tutoring through the supervision system. The main focus of the supervision is an essay which you’d submit in advance, to be marked by your supervisor. The supervision itself is devoted to a critical discussion of the essay topic. As a Philosophy student at Cambridge, you’d normally have one supervision per week, either individually or in a pair.
Philosophy at Churchill
Churchill has a tradition of excellence in Philosophy going back to the earliest days of the College. Edward Craig, until 2006 the Knightbridge Professor of Philosophy, has been a Fellow of the College since 1966. Simon Blackburn, until 2011 the Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy, started his career as a Junior Research Fellow at Churchill in 1967. Since then, the College has been host to a number of highly successful Fellows in Philosophy who have gone on to hold prestigious positions both in the UK and elsewhere.
Today Philosophy at Churchill stands out for its diversity and its focus on developing the academic potential of each individual student. Our undergraduates come from a wide range of educational backgrounds, both in the UK and abroad. What they all have in common is a desire to excel academically, and an understanding that working hard is an essential prerequisite for doing so.
Past students of Philosophy at Churchill have gone on to a variety of careers, including: law, media, management consulting, engineering, science, school teaching, investment banking, medicine, policing, and others. Some of our former students are also teaching Philosophy at university themselves.
More generally, Cambridge Philosophy graduates pursue a wide variety of career paths. More than a third go on to postgraduate study, with a significant number of Cambridge Philosophy students going on to pursue a career in the profession. Other common destinations for Cambridge Philosophy graduates are law, civil service, teaching and business. Statistics are available in the Faculty Undergraduate Prospectus and the University Undergraduate Prospectus.
Suggested reading list
There are many good introductory Philosophy books, and many lists of suggested reading for beginners. Our philosophers have compiled a suggested reading list (below), but any Philosophy reading you do will help, as long as you read critically. Try a number of authors. If you find one dull or exasperating or hard to understand, try another.
- Russell, B. Problems of Philosophy, (Oxford University Press)
- Nagel, T. What Does it All Mean?, (Oxford University Press)
- Blackburn, S W. Think, (Oxford University Press)
- Descartes, R. Meditations, (Many acceptable editions)
- Mill, J.S. Utilitarianism, (Many acceptable editions)
- Warnock, G.J. Contemporary Moral Philosophy, (Macmillan)
- Williams, B.A.O. Morality, (Cambridge University Press)
- Smith, P. Formal Logic: an introduction
- Hodges, W. Logic, (Penguin)
- Campbell, K. Body and Mind, (Notre Dame)
- Carruthers, P. Introducing Persons, (Routledge)
- Smith, P. and Jones, O.R. The Philosophy of Mind, (Cambridge University Press)
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