Philosophy

Understanding the world, our perspective on it, and our place in it
Is the world the way we think it is?  What do we know? How can we distinguish between good and bad? Right and wrong? No matter what answers you give to these questions, they will depend on – and shape – a philosophical conception. In studying philosophy you will learn the meaning and the implications of questions like these. You will also learn how to formulate these questions and how to evaluate the diverse answers that such questions have received over the centuries. In fact, philosophy has always addressed such fundamental questions, questions that are often ignored because the answers are taken for granted. So you will not only be trained in a discipline and a method, but also learn its history. Philosophy has a long history and studying this history will make you realize that the meaning of big philosophical questions – such as ‘What is the soul?’, ‘What is science?’ or ‘What is it to be moral?’ – can change profoundly in the course of time. But what they mean today depends in part on the answers given by thinkers of the past.

The philosopher: an independent thinker

Following the new BA philosophy programme at the VU will make you an independent thinker. You will learn not only about the fundamental questions of philosophy, but also about the relationship between philosophy, science and society. You will be trained to think critically about all the aspects of philosophical issues, both the fundamental theoretical aspects (logic, epistemology, theory of science) and the practical and societal (ethics, politics, theory of society). Our programme is for ambitious students who want to understand the world and make it a better place. Philosophy is not only a field of knowledge and a key element of our culture, but also a useful tool: as you study philosophy you develop specific skills, such as critical thinking, analysing and evaluating texts, constructing an argumentation and responding to objections. Our philosophy programme is designed to offer you all the necessary courses for acquiring a solid preparation in philosophy and for developing competences that are essential to philosophy, but are also very much sought after on the job market.

Philosophy in English: the international Bachelor programme at VU Amsterdam

Philosophy transcends national boundaries: it is a discipline that is global and international. That’s why our new BA programme in philosophy offers courses in English. You can choose between two tracks: one is entirely in English – both international and Dutch students will find a marvellous opportunity to develop their skills in today’s lingua franca – and the other is bilingual: you will learn how to read, comment on, analyse and compose philosophical texts not only in Dutch but also in English.

Why at the VU?

Our philosophy programme is designed to offer you all that is required for becoming an independent thinker. You will be taught in relatively small groups, where you will have ample opportunity to engage in critical discussion and develop your own views in interaction with your fellow students. If you are interested in what philosophy can do for science and society at large, VU Amsterdam is an excellent choice. We have a close-knit campus, strong societal awareness, and close interaction with other disciplines. Our programme also allows you to study philosophy as a second major.

Philosophy as a second major

The flexible yet specific character of a philosophical education, and the skills you acquire through it, make philosophy ideal as a second major: it allows you to reflect on the subject of your first major, applying both your in-depth specialist knowledge and your additional philosophical knowledge and skills. This is particularly true in the interdisciplinary and diverse context of VU Amsterdam. Philosophy is an essential part of any VU educational programme, so you will have ample opportunity to talk with fellow students about the relationship between philosophy and (to bring just a few examples) science, law, art, or religion.

Introducing Philosophy at VU Amsterdam

Philosophy offers a genuine preparation and support for any job; by studying with us you develop skills which are essential to philosophy, but are also valued by a broad range of potential employers. Philosophy consists in uncovering and critically assessing the implicit presuppositions in a text or argument. You will develop the essential skills of analysis and critical evaluation. In addition, you will learn how to write academic texts and how to present and defend your views in oral presentations. Well-regarded statistical studies have shown that, among students of the humanities, philosophers have a high chance of finding a job. As a philosophy graduate, you can apply for positions such as (ethical) advisor or policy officer at a government ministry or a hospital, but also as an editor, journalist or teacher.

Your Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy as a second major will provide you with a welcome addition as you enter the job market. But if you want more, you may enter one of the VU Master’s degree programmes. These can be interdisciplinary, devoted to a single discipline, or combined with another MA or MSc programme. The VU offers both a Research Master and multidisciplinary MA programmes, which will provide you with the specialization necessary for landing and working at your ideal job.

If you have obtained or will obtain a Dutch diploma, please check the criteria on our Dutch webpage.

Applicants holding a diploma from another country must meet a number of requirements:

1.    A diploma equivalent to the Dutch pre-university VWO diploma
See the Diploma Requirement List for examples of accepted diplomas per country. Please note: this list is meant to give you an indication of admissibility; no rights can be derived from it.

Applicants who do not meet this criterion may be asked to sit (an) entry exam(s) to prove they are eligible for admission.

2.    Proof of sufficient proficiency in English
See the General Admission Requirements for the English language requirements.

 

Please check our step-by-step application guide for more information.

International applicants will be asked to submit the following documents:

•    Transcript(s) of records (e.g. High School grade list)
•    Curriculum Vitae (your personal details, previous education and any relevant work experience in approximately one A4 page)
•    Copy of valid passport
•    English language test results (if already obtained)

Deadline
International students who require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 April. Students who do not require university housing and/or a student visa must apply before 1 May. You will be informed about your admission within four weeks after you completed and submitted your application.

Ready to apply?
Great! All applicants must start the application procedure through the Studielink.nl portal.

The VU Matching Programme enables you to check whether you have chosen the right degree programme. The matching programme consists of two steps: a digital questionnaire on VUnet, which is part of the application process, and an online activity. By taking part in the matching activity, you can check whether the programme is really the right one for you. For more information, please see the VU Matching Programme website.
Some international students are happy to tell you about their experiences with living and studying in Amsterdam. These Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and have attended various bachelor's and master's programmes.

Our student ambassadors are listed here on this webpage: vu.nl/ambassadors.

Reach out to them and get their stories about being a student at VU Amsterdam!

Bachelor's day
Join us on the Bachelor's day; learn everything about this programme and VU Amsterdam, and ask your questions to students and teachers.

For questions, please contact your International Student Advisor:

Rosa Vijftigschild - ContactRosa Vijftigschild
E: bachelors.hum@vu.nl
T +31 20 59 85641

This is what you will be doing

Studying philosophy at VU Amsterdam calls for active participation, intense study and great ambition. We foster all of this in working seminars, in which we guide you in the pursuit of knowledge. You are expected to adopt an independent attitude towards learning in general, to participate actively in group meetings, and to prepare well for lectures.

During the first year, you take part in foundational courses in logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, and also in introductory courses in the history of philosophy: general surveys of ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophical traditions will provide you with the basis for expanding your knowledge: you will acquire a broad understanding of the field of philosophy and its methodology, and of the various research questions that define that field. 

 

In the second year you will both revise and refine your knowledge: you will attend courses in ethics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind, and you’ll be working more in-depth; some special courses will be devoted to the reading and analysis of classical philosophical texts, others will concern Arabic philosophy and diversity in philosophy. What has the Greek philosophical tradition given rise to in contexts other than the Western one?

In the first semester of the third year you can follow a minor programme of your own choice, which allows you to deepen your knowledge of a specific philosophical subject or to get acquainted with another discipline. The final semester will be devoted to writing your BA thesis. You choose a subject that you find of particular interest, in consultation with your supervisor. In this final stage, you will apply the knowledge you acquired and the research skills you learnt so far, to produce an original work in which you develop your own philosophical views.

During the first year, you take part in foundational courses in logic, epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics, and also in introductory courses in the history of philosophy: general surveys of ancient, medieval, modern and contemporary philosophical traditions will provide you with the basis for expanding your knowledge: you will acquire a broad understanding of the field of philosophy and its methodology, and of the various research questions that define that field. 

 

In the second year you will both revise and refine your knowledge: you will attend courses in ethics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind, and you’ll be working more in-depth; some special courses will be devoted to the reading and analysis of classical philosophical texts, others will concern Arabic philosophy and diversity in philosophy. What has the Greek philosophical tradition given rise to in contexts other than the Western one?

In the first semester of the third year you can follow a minor programme of your own choice, which allows you to deepen your knowledge of a specific philosophical subject or to get acquainted with another discipline. The final semester will be devoted to writing your BA thesis. You choose a subject that you find of particular interest, in consultation with your supervisor. In this final stage, you will apply the knowledge you acquired and the research skills you learnt so far, to produce an original work in which you develop your own philosophical views.

Overview Philosophy

LANGUAGE OF INSTRUCTION

English

DURATION

3 years (fulltime)

APPLICATION DEADLINE

1 April (non-EEA students requiring visa and/or housing) / 1 May (all others)

START DATE

1 september 2018

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

BINDING STUDY ADVICE

You need to obtain 42 ECTS

FIELD OF INTEREST

Philosophy