Just finished Philosophy BA at KCL - Ask me anything! Watch

benq
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Hi! Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer our questions, this is extremely kind of you! Ok, so here I go:

1) Is it hard to get an exchange spot at places like Chicago and Georgetown? Basically, at the most competitive US universities that King's Philosophy Department collaborates with. What do the chances depend on?

2) Do many people take modules at other London schools? Is that easy to arrange?

3) In the 2nd year, is it absolutely compulsory to follow the degree structure, e.g. 2 modules from the List A, 2 from the List B... Or, perhaps, if you really don't like one of the lists - it might be possible to substitute a few modules for other ones?

4) Can philosophical modules from other departments count as your philosophy modules, e.g. a module about French thinkers of the 20th century? Or a literature module where you study authors who wrote philosophical novels?

5) If you know, how KCL Philosophy compares with Philosophy at UCL/LSE?

I just got an offer from KCL myself, hence quite excited, and therefore so many questions!
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Cloopster
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General queries, really.

What was good, what could have been improved, how challenging did you find it?

Also, any advice for a mature student?

Cheers
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maialily
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what did you find difficult about the degree? and how were you assessed?
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tortoiseshell
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(Original post by benq)
Hi! Thanks a lot for taking your time to answer our questions, this is extremely kind of you! Ok, so here I go:

1) Is it hard to get an exchange spot at places like Chicago and Georgetown? Basically, at the most competitive US universities that King's Philosophy Department collaborates with. What do the chances depend on?

2) Do many people take modules at other London schools? Is that easy to arrange?

3) In the 2nd year, is it absolutely compulsory to follow the degree structure, e.g. 2 modules from the List A, 2 from the List B... Or, perhaps, if you really don't like one of the lists - it might be possible to substitute a few modules for other ones?

4) Can philosophical modules from other departments count as your philosophy modules, e.g. a module about French thinkers of the 20th century? Or a literature module where you study authors who wrote philosophical novels?

5) If you know, how KCL Philosophy compares with Philosophy at UCL/LSE?

I just got an offer from KCL myself, hence quite excited, and therefore so many questions!
1) A couple of people in my year went to UNC and Stanford. I don't think it's that difficult. Then you needed a 2.1 (60-70%) average for your first year, which isn't as hard to get as a 2.1 in other years. You apply in first year then spend your second year abroad.

2) I took a module at LSE in my final year, and some of my friends took one at UCL. It was quite difficult to arrange in that I had to do lots of the admin myself - there wasn't a 'intercollegiate module coordinator' or anything. But also no grade requirements. A secretary told me I would be among the last people to get an intercollegiate module at LSE due to funding.

3) Maybe if you make enough of a fuss about it! I don't know anyone who changed the structure, though it may be possible. I would say, however, that it is there for a reason! You get a balanced philosophical education.

4) Yes. Of the eight modules per year, you can do two elsewhere - another department, or another college. So that could be English dept or French dept, or UCL philosophy. You do need to satisfy that dept's requirements though, and I seem to remember something about convincing the philosophy dept that the 'foreign' module would be relevant, for some outside modules.

5) Having spent some time at LSE, I can comment on that difference. Class sizes are smaller, as is the whole department. This means that you'll come out of your degree there knowing everyone, unlike at King's where only a handful of profs will know you by the end (unless you're ridiculous or exceptional, which most people aren't). The teaching is also quite related to everything else at LSE: so you can do philosophy of economics, phil of sociology, etc. The dept can seem to function as an adjunct to other LSE depts - although it is still among the best in the world. If you like the modern, scientifically engaged side of philosophy, then LSE is good. King's is more traditional. From what I hear, UCL is like King's but smaller - with particular strengths on political philosophy and aesthetics, but also world class at everything else.
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tortoiseshell
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(Original post by Cloopster)
General queries, really.

What was good, what could have been improved, how challenging did you find it?

Also, any advice for a mature student?

Cheers

It's a very good department with almost too many good things to list. One thing that stands out is the Phil Soc - there's a good lecture every week, and a strong social side. In central London, you're also very close to other organisations with philosophy talks and events happening all the time.

Sometimes you get the feeling of being just a 'lost number' in the electronic system, which is ubiquitous. So I suppose they could improve the internal software systems and organisation in general. The staff in the departmental office are very helpful though.

A Philosophy degree at KCL is extremely challenging! First year is ok if you can cope with all the new experiences. Level 6 modules (designed for 3rd year) are really hard! Be warned about choosing to take them early (in 2nd year) because you 'like a challenge'.

I don't remember many mature students on the undergraduate course, so hard to say! If you're worried, I would say: you will find people you get on with, even if you find that the majority of first years to be insufferable.
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tortoiseshell
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(Original post by maialily)
what did you find difficult about the degree? and how were you assessed?
It is hard to motivate yourself to do all the reading each week when everyone around you 'brags' about not doing it. It really pays off if you do though.

Assessment:

Each year, you're assessed on eight modules.

Assessment in first year is all exams. Except for logic and methodology, you have two hours to write two essays about the content of the module.

In the other years, some modules have that format, and some are assessed by coursework. This depends on the lecturer's preference, and can vary up to the last minute in some cases. By third year, you can choose all your modules, so some people I know ended up doing all exams or all coursework. Most were a mix, skewed towards whatever their preference was. This is sensible, since doing all of one or the other is a bit much for most.

You can also do a 10,000 word dissertation in final year instead of two modules. This ain't for everyone, but those I know who did it enjoyed it. A dissertation with a decent mark really helps if you're applying to further study after the BA.
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benq
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(Original post by tortoiseshell)
1) A couple of people in my year went to UNC and Stanford. I don't think it's that difficult. Then you needed a 2.1 (60-70%) average for your first year, which isn't as hard to get as a 2.1 in other years. You apply in first year then spend your second year abroad.

2) I took a module at LSE in my final year, and some of my friends took one at UCL. It was quite difficult to arrange in that I had to do lots of the admin myself - there wasn't a 'intercollegiate module coordinator' or anything. But also no grade requirements. A secretary told me I would be among the last people to get an intercollegiate module at LSE due to funding.

3) Maybe if you make enough of a fuss about it! I don't know anyone who changed the structure, though it may be possible. I would say, however, that it is there for a reason! You get a balanced philosophical education.

4) Yes. Of the eight modules per year, you can do two elsewhere - another department, or another college. So that could be English dept or French dept, or UCL philosophy. You do need to satisfy that dept's requirements though, and I seem to remember something about convincing the philosophy dept that the 'foreign' module would be relevant, for some outside modules.

5) Having spent some time at LSE, I can comment on that difference. Class sizes are smaller, as is the whole department. This means that you'll come out of your degree there knowing everyone, unlike at King's where only a handful of profs will know you by the end (unless you're ridiculous or exceptional, which most people aren't). The teaching is also quite related to everything else at LSE: so you can do philosophy of economics, phil of sociology, etc. The dept can seem to function as an adjunct to other LSE depts - although it is still among the best in the world. If you like the modern, scientifically engaged side of philosophy, then LSE is good. King's is more traditional. From what I hear, UCL is like King's but smaller - with particular strengths on political philosophy and aesthetics, but also world class at everything else.
Thank you so much! This is extremely helpful! Just a few more questions if that's alright

1) Stanford? Really? But that's amazing! Yet, it is not on the exchange partners list. I guess it either was on it back in your time, or you can go to universities which KCL does no have a formal agreement with. Which one?

2) Would you say that if somebody wanted a traditional education in Philosophy (not like LSE), then it would make a difference choosing UCL over KCL or vice versa? UCL seems to be ranked a lot better domestically, and better internetionally as well. Would that matter for postgrad/jobs?

3) What kind of things did your coursemates go on to do?
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evelyn3347
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Do they teach philosophy of religion? Is the political philosophy in first year difficult? I've got an offer from kcl to study philosophy BA but not sure accept it or go to Durham. I don't like political philosophy and much prefer metaphysics, philosophy of mind/science and philosophy of religion. Indian philosophy is also my taste. Opinion please.
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