Philosophy is the study of problems of an abstract and ultimate character, to do with the nature of reality, knowledge, truth, morality and human purpose among other things. Philosophy at Cambridge emphasises precise argument, and logic (the study of correct forms of argument) is a significant element of the course.
Number of students
We typically admit three or four undergraduates each year.
The central elements of the Philosophy Tripos are logic, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and ethics; there are also optional courses on aesthetics, political philosophy, philosophy of science, history of philosophy, philosophy of mathematics and experimental psychology.
All Philosophy students attend lectures and seminars organised by the Faculty of Philosophy; in addition, each student has to write an essay every week for his or her supervision (that is, period of individual tuition). Supervisions are organised by the student's College Director of Studies. Most students, in Philosophy as in other subjects, will have supervisions from several different supervisors during their three years in Cambridge. At Fitzwilliam College these supervisions are almost all one to one.
It is often found that a mixture of Arts and Science A-levels provides a good basis for the study of Philosophy, but there is no official requirement to that effect, and candidates with arts and/or science A-levels (or with other qualifications such as the IB) are welcome. Many of our candidates acquired their interest in philosophy from studying it in Philosophy or Religious Studies A-level, but this is by no means a requirement for admission.
The typical A Level offer is A*AA. The typical IB offer is 40-42 points with 776 at Higher Level. The College is neutral about the desirability of a gap year before reading for the Philosophy Tripos.
The admissions process
Applicants are required to submit two pieces of recent written work as part of their application.
If invited to interview, applicants should expect at least two interviews lasting 20-30 minutes. Such applicants are also required to sit the Philosophy admissions written assessment. More details can be found on the University website.
Director of Studies