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Course length

9 months full-time, 18 months part-time


Durham City

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Course details

The Graduate Diploma in Philosophy enables you to pursue your ambition to study philosophy, be it to progress to an MA or to feed a desire to understand more about the study of knowledge and existence, and the contribution it has made to society for millennia.

The course is offered over nine months full-time or 18 months part-time and does not require any formal background in philosophy as an academic discipline. You will select four optional modules, ranging in content from ethics and values to the history and theory of medicine, and from ancient philosophies to 20th century European philosophy. You will also be required to produce a dissertation.

As a GDip student you will benefit from the wealth of activities in the Department, including joining EIDOS, the postgraduate philosophy society, weekly research seminars and reading groups, and occasional conferences, workshops and Royal Institute of Philosophy lectures.

We not only pride ourselves on our reputation for excellence in research and teaching but also in being able to offer a vibrant and supportive place of learning for our student community. We are at the forefront of teaching and research in philosophy and how it may be applied to major issues that we face throughout the world.

Our intention for you as a GDip student is to develop the skills and knowledge that will enable you to make a positive contribution in global debates and policy that informs the lives that we all lead.

Course structure

Core module:

A 12,000-word Dissertation on a topic of interest, chosen in consultation with your dissertation supervisor.

The remainder of the course is made up of four optional modules, at least two of which must be at Level 3 and no more than one should be at Level 1.

In recent years, optional modules have included:

Level 1

  • Ethics and Values
  • Knowledge and Reality
  • Introduction to Logic
  • Reading Philosophy
  • History and Theory of Medicine
  • Introduction to the History and Philosophy of Science

Level 2

  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Political Philosophy
  • Language, Logic and Reality
  • Moral Theory
  • Theory, Literature and Society
  • Biomedical Ethics Past and Present
  • Science and Religion
  • Modern Philosophy I
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophy of Economics: Theory, Methods and Values
  • Ancient Philosophies West and East

Level 3

  • Modern Philosophy II
  • Aesthetics
  • Applied Ethics
  • Issues in Contemporary Ethics
  • Twentieth Century European Philosophy
  • Language and Mind
  • History of the Body
  • Philosophical Issues in Contemporary Science
  • Metaphysics
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Gender, Film and Society
  • 20th Century European Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Ethics in Business Practice
  • Formal and Philosophical Logic


This GDip course is delivered through a mixture of lectures, tutorials and seminars totalling eight hours per week. There is also a requirement for you to carry out at least four hours each week of further independent reading and study for each lecture or seminar.

The study of philosophy requires space for dialogue and the lectures include time for questions. Meanwhile, tutorials consist mainly of structured and critical dialogue in a supportive learning environment, while the seminars provide the forum for extending discussions.

You will also be required to complete a dissertation which, alongside independent study, includes six hours of one-to-one dissertation supervision with an expert in your chosen subject area.

Assessment is rigorous throughout the course and includes a combination of essays and exams depending on the options you choose, as well as the dissertation.

Essays are based on the topics discussed in the seminar groups and on your own independent reading. The dissertation of between 12,000-15,000 words is completed on a subject of particular interest to you and will be written under supervision.

Entry requirements

The entry requirements for this course have been designed to encourage applications from as wide a range of interested and able people as possible, including mature students, who may have been away from university for a long time, and international students.

As an applicant for our Graduate Diploma, you will usually have achieved a 2.1 or equivalent in a previous degree but this is not a strict requirement and decisions are made on a case by case basis. 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £7,000 per year
EU students £16,300 per year
Island students £7,000 per year
International students £16,300 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


An MA in philosophy at Durham University, develops the skills and knowledge needed to carry out research at a higher PhD level or progress to a rewarding professional career position.

A philosophy qualification fosters a creative and innovative approach to challenges and situations that is widely sought after by employers.

Such a degree enhances your intellectual, communication, organisational, interpersonal and research skills, and graduates have found employment in teaching, law, journalism, business and politics, the charity sector and the civil service among other professions.

We maintain fruitful relationships with our alumni and organise annual events where there is the opportunity to meet them, find out about their career paths and learn from their experiences.

Department information


The Department of Philosophy is one of the most prestigious University departments in the UK with inspirational research staff who are experts in their field. We nurture the thoughts and words of postgraduates as they study ancient and modern thinking on philosophical questions such as who we are and how we understand ourselves and our world.

As well as the more traditional philosophical elements such as Ethics and Values, Knowledge and Reality and Moral Theory, we offer learning in other contexts that range from the History and Theory of Medicine, through the Philosophy of Economics and Aesthetics to Gender, Film and Society.

The Department has a postgraduate community that is both diverse and collaborative, and staff are passionate about providing the space literally and figuratively in which to study. We understand the importance of generating new philosophical ideas and how they contribute to the Department’s research culture. A dynamic and influential programme of guest speakers, seminars, workshops and reading groups reflects this belief.

We are also home to the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and we have strong links with several interdisciplinary research centres including the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage and the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 8th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Top 20 for the quality of our research (REF 2021)


The Department of Philosophy is located at Old Elvet in Durham, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We occupy a listed building in this ancient part of the city, near the medieval Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, the colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its Castle and Cathedral.

The Department offers an extensive programme of research-related activities, including weekly lectures and seminars, many of which are given by renowned UK and international philosophers.


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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