Available Programmes

The LSE Philosophy Department offers courses in all the principal traditional philosophical subjects, though department members mostly specialise in their research interests in the philosophy of the natural and social sciences.

Read about the study of philosophy

The study of philosophy may be said to have two chief goals. First, to examine certain fundamental issues and problems, many of which have fascinated and pre-occupied philosophers since Greek times. For instance, what is knowledge and how is it acquired? Can we hope to possess as exact a knowledge of humans and human society as scientists seem to have of electrons and planets; and can the methods of the physical sciences be applied to psychology, sociology, etc? Or does the existence of consciousness and free will call for a different kind of knowledge and special methods of investigation when dealing with humans? Another example: what is the basis and proper nature of systems of ethics? Could these be objective, or are moral beliefs essentially a matter of personal taste?

 

The second goal of a philosophy course is to acquire a training in and knowledge of the techniques of correct reasoning and, to this end, formal logic is an important part of the course, as too the principles of evidence and of inductive reasoning. Since these principles of correct reasoning apply to any subject matter, the philosophy course provides a general basis for a very wide range of occupations and professions.

 

Like other courses in philosophy, ours are definitely academic (that is, guided by intellectual interests) rather than vocational. However, it is simply false (although widely believed) that such 'purely academic' courses harm one's employment prospects. The abilities that studying philosophy fosters above all others are those of understanding difficult material, imposing an order on it, summarising succinctly the claims made and spotting and evaluating the arguments for and against those claims. These abilities are clearly extremely useful in a whole range of occupations. Employers often stress that they prefer someone with a good 'general' degree to someone with a poorer degree in a 'relevant' area; and clearly the more interesting and challenging you find the material you study, the better motivated you will be to do the work necessary to obtain a good degree.

Undergraduate Programme

MSc Programmes

Research Programme

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