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B.A.; 4 years full-time; 20 places; 435

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is the discipline concerned with the questions of how one should live (ethics); what sorts of things exist and what are their essential natures (metaphysics); what counts as genuine knowledge (epistemology); what existence is and what it means to be (ontology); and what are the correct principles of reasoning (logic). It is generally agreed that philosophy is a method, rather than a set of claims, propositions, or theories. Its investigations are, unlike those of religion or superstition, wedded to reason, making no unexamined assumptions and no leaps based purely on analogy, revelation, or authority. In Greek, “philosophy” means “love of wisdom.” Philosophy is based on rational argument and appeal to facts. The questions addressed by philosophy remain the most general and most basic, the issues that underlie the sciences and stand at the base of a world-view.

Is this the right course for you?

If you are interested in examining questions regarding the ultimate nature of reality and our knowledge of it, or in questioning society’s basic assumptions and in analysing the moral, political, aesthetic and religious questions lying at the heart of our culture in an articulate manner you will find this a stimulating and challenging course.

Why study Philosophy at Trinity?

Our Department is small and student-friendly while offering a world-class programme in philosophy. All lecturing staff are scholars who have published widely in their specialisms. We teach courses which have both systematic and historical emphases and in the higher years students can choose options and get to write a thesis on a topic of their own choice. Trinity Philosophy students have regularly won prizes at the International Undergraduate Awards competition and also have gone on to the major graduate programmes in the world. There is a lively student society, the Metafizz, which offers the opportunity of combining social activities with philosophy.

What will you study?

The Philosophy course is designed to give you a solid, scholarly grounding in the classical texts that form the history of Western philosophy, and are one of the formative influences on Western culture. Studying the fundamentals of both formal and informal reasoning will support you to think independently.


In the first two years, you will study foundation courses in the history of philosophy, as well as engage with certain fundamental philosophical problems such as the debates about free will and determinism, the nature of morality, the nature of language, the existence of God, logic, and the scope and limits of human knowledge.


In the final two years, you are able to set your own syllabus by selecting courses from a reasonably wide choice including political philosophy, ethics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of mind, among others. In this way you can specialise in the areas of philosophy you have found most interesting and most suitable to your skills.

Assessment is by means of both essays and formal examinations with equal importance given to both. In fourth year, you will research and write a dissertation.

For more detailed information on all the modules offered, see:

Study abroad

Students have attended a wide variety of universities in different countries, generally in their second year. As we do not require students to attend a specific university, there is a great choice available (students choose a university in consultation with teaching staff).

Further information on the year abroad programme, and a list of partner universities, can be found at:


In the recent past, graduates of Philosophy have worked in areas as diverse as accountancy, academic teaching, journalism, law, T.V. reporting and research, film making, banking, computing and advertising. Each year some graduates also opt to pursue a research career, beginning with postgraduate study in Ireland or abroad.

Further information

Email: | Tel: +353 1 896 1529

Visit us: If you are considering studying for a Philosophy degree at Trinity but want to be sure, you are most welcome to attend first and second year lectures. Contact us by email (see above) to arrange a visit.

Student Profile

Sarah O'Gorman

Philosophy requires an open mind and involves the inquiry into nature and reality, knowledge and values with the use of logical reasoning and argument. I was attracted to the Philosophy degree at Trinity because it offered an expansive introduction into numerous philosophical disciplines. One of the main appeals of the course is that you learn not to expect any straight answers but through reasoning you can regularly be enlightened all the same. Being a relatively small department means that all the staff became well-known, extremely approachable and one can see that they are chosen for their passion and knowledge in their specialised area.

Matthew McKeever - Senior Sophister Single Honor Philosophy student 2010/11

"Philosophy teaches you how to think, and it does this by asking deep questions about a broad set of subjects. Let me explain.

First, the broadness of philosophy. Unlike, say, English literature or mathematics, philosophy has no one single subject matter. Anything can be studied philosophically. This is one of the things that first attracted me to the subject: there are so many interesting subjects out there, and philosophy lets you dip a toe in pretty much any of them (if you don't believe me, google 'philosophy of' and something that interests you!).

But studying philosophy isn't like taking a degree in one of the subjects mentioned above, and here's where depth comes in. It sound pretentious, but in philosophy we study the fundamental questions, the answers to which are often taken for granted. We don't ask, for example, how many prime numbers there are; we ask what numbers themselves are. We don't ask what the bible says about say, creation, but consider how religious language in general functions. These, I hope you agree, are pretty interesting questions.

So that's why you should study philosophy. You should study it at Trinity for two reasons: the course and the faculty. The faculty is small and friendly, and are always happy to talk philosophy, course-related or not. Moreover, despite being small, their interests cover all the main areas in philosophy. This is reflected in the course: in the first two years, you get to study all the main areas of philosophy. This enables you to see where your interests lie, and then in the final two years you get to choose courses based on this."

Course Options




4 years full-time

Points Required


Number of Places


CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is


Minimum entry points required are 435
More information on minimum entry points


Philosophy may be studied as a single honor course (TR005), within the Two Subject Moderatorship programme (TR001) and in the Philosophy, political science, economics and sociology (TR015) programme.

In TR005 Philosophy is studied for four years.

In TR015 it is possible to study philosophy for the entire four-year degree programme or for a shorter period.

Admission Requirements

For general admission requirements please click here


To apply to this course, click on the relevant Apply Link below

EU Applicants

Read the information about how to apply, then apply directly to CAO.

Mature Student – Supplementary Application Form

Read the information about how to apply as a mature student then select the link below to complete the TCD Supplementary Application Form for mature students.

Philosophy, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 01/FEB/2016

Non-EU Applicants

  • Philosophy, 4 years full-time Closing Date: 30/JUN/2016
  • CAO code (Central Applications Office code) is



    Philosophy may be studied as a single honor course (TR005), within the Two Subject Moderatorship programme (TR001) and in the Philosophy, political science, economics and sociology (TR015) programme.

    In TR005 Philosophy is studied for four years.

    In TR015 it is possible to study philosophy for the entire four-year degree programme or for a shorter period.