BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition


Program Description

BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition

Maryvale Institute offers an Open University validated, part-time, distance learning BA in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition; allowing students unable to attend full-time programme access to this Degree.

The aims of the Degree are to:

  • Equip students with knowledge and understanding of enduring philosophical disciplines, such as metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and logic.
  • Explore the relationship between these and Catholic theology, guided by the vision of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio.
  • Develop in students an ability to conduct a personal study at the level required of an informed and independent scholar, aiming to become an Honours level graduate.

Programme of study

  • This unique programme is a five year, part-time, distance learning course, validated by The Open University.

Applications accepted for January start.

The BA in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition allows students to encounter those outstanding figures in the history of philosophy who are also major figures in the history of Catholic thought. The course also presents the Catholic tradition of philosophy to students as a living, dynamic reality, in critical and constructive dialogue with the other philosophical traditions at work in our contemporary culture. The course aims to engage Catholic students fully with the western philosophical tradition, to enable them to understand their faith better and so to contribute to the evangelisation of the culture in which they live.

Who is the programme aimed at?

The programme would appeal to those wishing to study philosophy within the Catholic tradition in some depth. The course is at an undergraduate honours degree level and is validated by The Open University. Within this programme, students may gain a Higher Education Certificate and Diploma in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition for two and four years study respectively. To suit the needs of clerical and religious students, there are opportunities to take appropriately ordered combinations of modules, from the degree course. Students who wish to discover the scope of the Programme and the level of studies it requires may follow Module One ‘Introduction to Philosophy’ before applying to follow the degree programme.

What are the entry requirements?

In general, entry to this degree programme is ‘open’ in the sense that no specific previous qualifications are needed but evidence will be sought of ability for degree level work and the application will need to be supported by appropriate references. The Programme is delivered in English and evidence of competence in the language may be required of those for whom English is not their first language.

How long is the programme?

The programme is part-time and takes five years to complete and is validated by The Open University.

When does the next programme start?

A new programme begins each January.

Programme information


  • To introduce students to the main branches of philosophy, and to some classic texts, together with the major philosophers in the western tradition.
  • To provide students with a critical understanding of the Catholic philosophical tradition.
  • To explore the relationship between the Catholic philosophical tradition, continental philosophical traditions and Anglo-American philosophy.
  • To enable students to engage with diverse philosophical standpoints from the perspective of the Catholic philosophical tradition.
  • To analyse the various philosophical foundations for the study of theology together with the use of philosophical principles in the life and thinking of the Church.
  • To enable students to prepare for further study, especially in the fields of philosophy and theology.


The course is studied over five years with three double modules being taken in year one and six modules in year two. In years three and four students study six modules in each year. In year five students study one further compulsory module, then choose a further elective module from a list of options and then embark upon the writing of a long essay.

Each module is studied following a tutor-assisted, supported, open learning process over a period of between 6 weeks and 12 weeks, depending on module length. Students are expected to study for around 15 hours per week during the Certificate years and for an average of 20 hours a week during the Diploma and BA years.

Students attend two residential weekends per year and a residential week. A key element during each of the residential periods, and especially during the residential week, is the seminar study of module-related prepared primary texts.


Modules of study are taken on:

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Philosophy of the Human Person
  • Logic
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of God
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Issues in Contemporary Philosophy
  • Cosmology
  • Philosophy, Culture and Evangelisation
  • Philosophy of History
  • Philosophy of the Arts
  • Phenomenology, Gadamer and Newman
  • The Thought of St Thomas Aquinas
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy and contemporary Catholic Theology
  • Plus optional modules in Edmund Husserl or Thomas More and Renaissance Philosophy.


There are three elements in the assessment strategy for this programme:

  • Assignments
  • Examinations
  • Primary text reflections

How do I apply?

Applications are welcome throughout the preceding year, up to the first week of January.


If you have a disability or any long-term condition that impacts on your day-to-day life, please download the Accessibility Form, open and edit it in Acrobat Reader, and email or post the completed document to the Accessibility Coordinator (address included on the form), to ensure we can give you the best possible support during your course of study. Disclosing a disability will not be a factor in the Institute’s decision as to whether or not to offer you a place on the course. However, it is important that the Institute knows if you have any special needs in order to provide you with appropriate support and facilities. This information will remain strictly confidential.

Student Feedback

What have you found especially positive about the last study weekend?

  • "The structure of the material covered was very stimulating, particularly as an introduction to this subject."
  • "The discussions and networking with fellow students were delightful and also friendly relationships with staff."
  • "The simple lecture format (without the need to page through coursebooks)."
  • "The variety of presenters and presentations."
  • "Breaking new ground into the study of philosophers who I knew nothing about.."
  • "Lectures by experts in the field."
  • "The introduction to the web resources and the Library."
  • "The peaceful environment."
  • "The friendly staff."
  • "The lecturers put previous reading into context."
  • "Very clearly presented and ideas explained in a way that reassured and engaged."
  • "Practice tips for dealing with coursework."
  • "Opportunity to use the Library."
  • "Quiet study environment."
  • "The peaceful and calm atmosphere and retreat, like I stepped out of normal life."
  • "The lectures were useful and focused on what was needed."

What insights have you gained over the study weekend for your own philosophical development?

  • "The idea of philosophy as an ongoing journey, as opposed to the complete definite answers."
  • "The introduction [served] as a sort of road map, with different elements to be explained."
  • "The necessity to know what it is and means to be human."
  • "That there is no definitive and complete philosophy canonised by the Church."
  • "That there is some valuable knowledge in every philosophy."
  • "The importance of Fides et Ratio as a whole grounding for the course."
  • "Philosophy is an ongoing enterprise - always new ideas - but much of it is a conversation with classical ideas, e.g. metaphysics."
  • "Philosophy is itself multi-disciplinary and in dialogue with other disciplines, e.g. psychology and linguistics."

BA Philosophy Students - January 2018

Last updated Apr 2019

Keystone Scholarship

Discover the options our scholarship can give you

About the School

Maryvale lies at the centre of the ancient settlement of Oscott, about five miles from Birmingham City Centre. With its charming buildings, in which Christian values and prayer are almost tangible, it ... Read More

Maryvale lies at the centre of the ancient settlement of Oscott, about five miles from Birmingham City Centre. With its charming buildings, in which Christian values and prayer are almost tangible, its long and interesting history and peaceful grounds, Maryvale is spiritual ‘home’ to many. Read less