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 Bachelor's programme Philosophy at VU Amsterdam 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 Bachelor's programme Philosophy 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 Bachelor's programme Philosophy offers courses in English. You can choose between two specializations: 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 in both Dutch and English.

Why at VU?

Our Bachelor's programme Philosophy 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.

Keuzegids 2019 Top rated programme

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 non-Dutch pre-university diploma must meet a number of requirements. If you do not yet meet the requirements but expect to do so in the future (such as obtaining your diploma), you can already apply. We will evaluate your application and inform you of our admission decision. All outstanding requirements need to be met in full by the time you enrol for the programme.

Admission to the programme will remain conditional until your certified diploma copy is received and the conditions in your admission decision letter have been met.

Requirements that apply:

  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
    Although complete applications are preferred, you can begin your application before you have completed the test and then submit your passing score once you have been conditionally admitted. You can find all accepted tests and scores on our Admission Requirements webpage.

Application Steps

  1. Check if you match the entry requirements.
  2. Register for the Bachelor’s programme before the application deadline via Studielink.
    In Studielink you select the Bachelor’s programme 'Philosophy’. If you have your Studielink set to Dutch you can find the programme under ‘Filosofie’.
  3. After registering you will receive log-in details for VUnet.
    In VUnet you select the English-taught study specialization 'Philosophy'.
  4. Then upload the following documents:
    • Transcript of records; a transcript in English of the grades obtained over the final two years of your high school and any further education up to the moment of your application. IB and A-level applicants are asked to upload their predicted grades.
    • A scan of your diploma (if you have already graduated).
    • Curriculum Vitae; the curriculum vitae should include your personal details and list your previous education and relevant work experience (± 1-2 pages).
    • English language test results (if already obtained).
    • Copy of valid passport or ID (ID for EEA students only).
  5. Pay the application fee and submit your application.
  6. Wait for the decision on your admission request.

For more details on all steps please consult our step-by-step application guide.

Application deadline
The final application deadline for non-EU/EEA students is April 1st and for Dutch and EU students the final deadline is May 1st. For students wishing to use our Accommodation Services an early application is recommended.

Ready to apply?
Great! Click here to start your application.

Please note: the Studielink notification “The educational institution has yet to determine whether your previous education level is sufficient“ will only be ticked after you accept your place and have sent us a certified copy of your diploma.

As a prospective student at VU Amsterdam you will take part in the VU Matching programme. VU Matching consists of two parts: you must fill out a digital questionnaire on VUnet and participate in a matching activity organized by the study programme. The matching activity aims to give you a realistic idea of the content of the study, so you can determine if it matches your expectations and whether you have chosen the right programme.

  • Dutch Nationals are expected to participate in the matching activity on campus. This activity will take place at June 4th 2019. Please consider this when planning your holiday(job). Keep an eye out for the invitation email for the matching activity which will be sent by the end of April 2019. For general information about matching check the website VU Matching.

  • International students are expected to participate in a digital matching activity once they are conditionally admitted. Invitations will be sent by the end of April 2019. For general information about matching check the website VU Matching.

If you have questions about the matching activity, please contact the matching coordinator of the Faculty of Humanities: matching.fgw@vu.nl.

Candidates with an international degree can contact the International Student Advisor of the Faculty of Humanities:

Rosa Vijftigschild - ContactRosa Vijftigschild

E: bachelors.hum@vu.nl
T: +31 20 59 85641

Candidates with a Dutch diploma can contact contact@vu.nl when experiencing any difficulties.

Contact a Student Ambassador
Would you like to hear from an international student about their student journey, what it is like to study at VU, the programme and/or their student life in Amsterdam? Contact our student ambassadors! Our Student Ambassadors come from all over the world and would be happy to answer all your questions.

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Campus tour
You are welcome to contact bachelors.hum@vu.nl to enquire about the option of a campus tour with a Student Ambassador and to discuss the admission process with the International Student Advisor during your visit to our university.

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.

Detailed information on the programme is available in the Study Guide.

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

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

START DATE

September 1st

STUDY TYPE

Full-time

BINDING STUDY ADVICE

You need to obtain 42 ECTS.

FIELD OF INTEREST

Philosophy