Philosophy is a 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.
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.
About fifty applicants in Philosophy are admitted to Cambridge University each year. Fitzwilliam College usually admits two or three of these, but the number depends on the quality of the candidates.
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.
Applicants are also required to submit two pieces of recent written work as part of their application.
Applicants are also required to sit the Philosophy admissions written assessment, if invited for interview. More details can be found on the University website.
Most applicants to Fitzwilliam intend to read Philosophy for three years, but we also consider those who would like to follow up a year (or two) of Philosophy with the study of some other subject.
Cambridge philosophy students find themselves highly employable after graduating. They work in a wide range of professions including banking, local government, the theatre, publishing, journalism, music and business Management. Some undertake further study elsewhere in order to acquire professional qualifications in accountancy, teaching, law or psychology. Almost a third embark upon postgraduate work in philosophy itself.
Director of Studies
Dr Louise Hanson