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Philosophy (Certificate of Higher Education)

Come and explore some of the most profound questions it is possible to ask with some of the most eminent philosophers in the country. What makes something good or just? Is the human mind just a lump of grey matter? Can I know that I'm not trapped inside The Matrix? Do we have free will? Does God exist? Does science provide us with a special kind of knowledge? Who decides what counts as beautiful? 

Our Philosophy Certificate of Higher Education will allow you to develop a historical perspective on the main philosophical problems, learn about historical and contemporary philosophical debates and gain an understanding of key philosophical theories and concepts. You will also make connections between the ideas, beliefs and arguments that inform philosophical issues and learn how to articulate ideas systematically and logically.


  • Arts and humanities at Birkbeck are ranked fifth best in London, 18th in the UK and 87th globally in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings by Subject.
  • Birkbeck's Department of Philosophy is a leading centre for philosophical research in the UK. All of our established members of academic staff are active researchers, and the Department’s excellence in both teaching and research is consistently reflected in UK and international surveys.
  • In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF), Philosophy at Birkbeck was ranked 15th in the UK, with a research environment judged conducive to producing internationally excellent research.
  • The Department of Philosophy has its own library at 30 Russell Square. The main philosophy collection is held in the Birkbeck Library, which has an extensive range of books and online resources.
  • The Department of Philosophy is a member of the University of London’s Institute of Philosophy. Students in the Department therefore belong to a large, intercollegiate community of philosophers, and are welcome at a range of seminars, lectures, talks and conferences.

Progression to degrees at Birkbeck

This Certificate of Higher Education is not only an award in its own right, but successful completion can give you entry into Year 2 of our BA Philosophy: you must complete all eight modules to progress on to the three-year, full-time degree or all six non-Logic modules to progress on to the four-year, part-time degree.

If you wish to use credits gained from modules previously offered as part of the Certificate of Higher Education in Philosophy to gain entry to the BA Philosophy you should contact the BA Admissions Tutor.

Course structure

To gain the Certificate of Higher Education, you must successfully complete eight modules, worth a total of 120 credit points.

Module groups

Please note: credits gained from previous, successfully completed philosophy modules can be counted towards the 120 credits required to complete this certificate.

  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    There are no specific entry requirements, except an interest in the intellectual pursuit of philosophy. However, all modules are taught at university level and you should be able to read, write and speak English fluently in order to benefit fully from your studies and successfully complete your coursework. If you need help, we offer a range of academic English and language development modules.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months' duration.
    • Courses of less than six months' duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our full-time courses (with the exception of modular enrolment certificates of higher education and graduate certificates), as these qualify for Tier 4 sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Fees are payable per module and vary depending on the course. Please click on the Course Structure tab and then click on the title of individual modules to see the fees for each module. The overall cost of the certificate will depend on the modules you choose.

    Please note: if you intend to study this certificate part-time and fund your studies via a student loan, this may affect your entitlement for future full-time funding. Find out more about funding your studies with a student loan.

  • Teaching and assessment


    The topics and structure of the programme mirror that of the first year of our BA Philosophy and you will join the BA lectures. After the hour-long lecture, a seminar will give you an opportunity to discuss the topic of the lecture with your fellow Certificate of Higher Education students, led by one of our experienced sessional lecturers.


    All modules are assessed half by an end-of-term examination and half by a take-home exercise.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in education, research, politics and journalism.

    We offer a comprehensive Careers Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    This is a modular enrolment certificate, so you will need to enrol onto individual modules (rather than onto the entire programme of study). Please view the Course Structure and then click on the title of individual modules to see class dates and times and to enrol.