Bachelor in Philosophy


Program Description

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 Philosophy at VU Amsterdam?
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.

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.

First year -
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.

Second year -
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?

Third year - 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.

Last updated Nov 2020

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 175 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to over 26,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 122 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Curious about student life at VU Amsterdam? Click here to ask our International Student Ambassadors. Read less