Skip to main content



Why Study Philosophy?

Philosophy is at the heart of our intellectual understanding of the world and of humanity’s place in it.   It is worth studying philosophy for the love of it, and you are welcome to study it here for that reason.   As an academic discipline, Philosophy pursues questions that have been of perennial interest to everyone, such as: what is the nature of happiness?  Is the future predetermined?  Is democracy the best form of government?  Is the mind anything more than the brain?

But, contrary to popular myth, the virtues of a Philosophy degree are not only theoretical but practical too.  Through careful and accessible supervision, it teaches students how to think, write and speak with exactness, clarity and imagination, and it helps them to see themselves and the world around them in terms of many different perspectives or points of view.  These practical abilities are rightly valued highly by a wide range of professions because they promote understanding and tolerance of beliefs of others.  Like most humanities degrees, Philosophy is not a directly vocational subject which becomes out of date or is suited to only one career.  It provides intellectual skills in literacy and reasoning fit for a lifetime, through training in thinking about complex issues at the foundation of all understanding and of all practical affairs.  Some may ask, ‘What can you do with a Philosophy degree,’ and the answer is, ‘Just about anything you like.’  What matters is that you can do it well.  Philosophy graduates go into an unlimited range of occupations in the professions and in the public and private sectors.   The latest statistics show that employers value philosophy graduates more than ever before.  See for example,,,2213665,00.html and more recently


Here at Queen’s we offer education, research and scholarship of the highest quality in the major fields of philosophy, aiming to be a centre of philosophical excellence and to provide a friendly and supportive learning environment.   Philosophy at Queen’s is a Regional Centre of the Royal Institute of Philosophy. In this role it hosts free lectures and other events open to the public, including a Visiting Speaker scheme, details of which can be accessed here.  It is also an institutional member of the Institute of Philosophy and of the British Philosophical Association. Our existing degree pathways include single-honours Philosophy, Philosophy and Politics, Philosophy and English, and Philosophy and Theology.  We also offer an interdisciplinary programme in Philosophy, Politics and Economics.  Within philosophy, we have strengths ranging from the history of philosophy to the latest philosophical problems, and study opportunities are available in the traditions of analytical philosophy and scholastic philosophy.

Our degree includes:  the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, encountered in their own writings;  some central theories and arguments in the fields of Logic, Metaphysics, Epistemology and Philosophy of Mind;  some central theories and arguments in the fields of Moral Philosophy;  and an awareness of major issues currently at the frontiers of philosophical debate and research.   All our modules are “research-led”, and offer discussion of current major philosophical issues.   Our degree pathways, subject to annual improvement, currently begin with a module introducing philosophy followed by modules on human nature and the good life.   In second year, single honours students take modules in epistemology, moral theories, philosophy of mind, and logic & critical thinking, with a further two chosen from:  modern political thought, scholastic ethics, and history of philosophy.   In third year, single honours students can determine study areas for themselves by way of a dissertation, in addition to choosing modules from metaphysics, scholastic metaphysics, applied ethics, mind and nature, Aesthetics, and philosophy of science.   Opportunities for postgraduate study are also available. 

Philosophy at Queen’s has developed a number of *international links* that allow students - both undergraduate and postgraduate - to study abroad. In particular it has important links to a number of philosophy departments in universities in China.

Teaching team:

Professor David Archard

Dr Joe Morrison

Dr Tom Walker

Dr Joseph Diekemper teaches and researches in philosophy of the mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of religion, with particular interests in time, ontology, the metaphysical implications of theism, and specific issues in Christian philosophical theology.

Dr Jeremy Watkins researches on theories of forgiveness and punishment, moral and legal responsibility, moral luck, the ethics of international law, and the definition of morality.   He has published in the collection Philosophy and International Law and in the journals Oxford Journal of Legal Studies and Theoria.

Dr. Keith Breen has research and teaching interests in political theory and philosophy, specifically in late modern theories of political action, power, and rationality, with a specific emphasis on those developing out of the phenomenological-existential, critical theoretical, and communitarian traditions.  His other research and teaching interests include the philosophy of work, the ethics of institutions, and theories of war and justice, in particular Just War theory. He has published on these topics in a number of political theory journals.

Dr. Cillian McBride has research and teaching interests in Contemporary political theory, particularly deliberative democracy, political liberalism, and the politics of recognition.  He is currently co-ordinating, with Professor Shane O’Neill (QUB), an ESRC funded seminar series on the subject of The Politics of Recognition and the Dynamics of Social Conflict. He is also involved in an AHRC-ESRC funded seminar series, co-ordinated by Dr. Jonathan Seglow (Royal Holloway), on the subject of Religion, Justice, and Well-Being.

Professor Vincent Geoghegan has research and teaching interests in Political theory and Irish political thought, and is particularly interested in the theory and history of utopianism. This has led to books on the utopian thinkers Ernst Bloch and Herbert Marcuse, and a study of the relationship between Marxism and utopianism. Recent work has been on late nineteenth and early twentieth century utopian thinking, particularly William Morris, Christian Socialism, and Edward Carpenter. He is currently exploring the utopian dimensions of religious narrative, attempting to relate this to the development of postsecularism.

Dr. Susan McManus has research and teaching interests in the fields of poststructuralist, utopian, and radical political theory, both historical and contemporary. She is particularly interested in the ways in which questions of truth and knowledge, critique, political imagination, and hopeful, transformative political agency can be reconceived by contemporary theoretical work within late-modern conditions. She has done research on questions of truth and fiction in political theory and contemporary utopianism, and is currently developing research projects on affective political agency and theorizing global resistance .

Professor Shane O’Neill has research and teaching interests in Contemporary Political Theory, Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and the Politics of Diversity and Recognition. His primary interest is in contemporary moral and political philosophy, specifically in clarifying the demands of justice and outlining conditions of democratic legitimacy in modern pluralist societies.  He is currently exploring (in part through an ESRC seminar series project he is leading) other uses of recognition theory, including its potential as a framework for re-thinking the meaning of secularism in contemporary politics.


Professor Bernard Cullen  has teaching and research interests in Hegel, German Idealism, Freud and Psychoanalytic Theory, and Contemporary European Philosophy.

Professor Jonathan Gorman

Professor Cynthia Macdonald

Philosophy blog: 


Information for prospective students


Philosophy (available as BA Single/Joint Honours)

Politics, Philosophy and Economics (PPE)

Postgraduate Taught Degrees