in_arte_swyre
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Hello guys, it's Elisa here writing you from France!
I have always wondered about studying in a British university, and now I am attending my last high school year and I am here trying to figure out what it would be like, where it's best to apply and so on.
I am predicted to get about 17/20 at French final exam, so I could be applying everywhere without problems (I'm also taking a gap year to save money before going to university, so I'll have one more year to learn English and make a decision!). I want to apply to a BA Philosophy course, but I wanted to ask you what is studying Philosophy in UK like.
I am Italian, and in Italy we used to study just History of Philosophy, learning by heart lots of stuff about Philosophers and never reasoning. Since I moved to France, I discovered a brand new approach: here we take a topic (for instance at the moment we are focusing on Desire) and we reflect on it, studying thoughts of Philosophers on it etc. I wanted to ask what it is like in the UK, to know whether it is the best choice :3
And finally, I wanted to ask you about where to apply: I am definitely trying to get into Cambridge, but I don't have a clue about how to choose from British universities: should I consider only rankings?
Thank you very much for helping me!
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Estreth
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(Original post by in_arte_swyre)
Hello guys, it's Elisa here writing you from France!
I have always wondered about studying in a British university, and now I am attending my last high school year and I am here trying to figure out what it would be like, where it's best to apply and so on.
I am predicted to get about 17/20 at French final exam, so I could be applying everywhere without problems (I'm also taking a gap year to save money before going to university, so I'll have one more year to learn English and make a decision!). I want to apply to a BA Philosophy course, but I wanted to ask you what is studying Philosophy in UK like.
I am Italian, and in Italy we used to study just History of Philosophy, learning by heart lots of stuff about Philosophers and never reasoning. Since I moved to France, I discovered a brand new approach: here we take a topic (for instance at the moment we are focusing on Desire) and we reflect on it, studying thoughts of Philosophers on it etc. I wanted to ask what it is like in the UK, to know whether it is the best choice :3
And finally, I wanted to ask you about where to apply: I am definitely trying to get into Cambridge, but I don't have a clue about how to choose from British universities: should I consider only rankings?
Thank you very much for helping me!
I have only what you say about Italian and French teaching of philosophy to go on, but it sounds like teaching in the UK is more like France than Italy. UK degrees in philosophy certainly include plenty of History of Philosophy, but the topic-based approach (incorporating prominent historical accounts) occupies more of the curriculum in pretty much all universities. Also note that in a Philosophy degree, a History of Philosophy course (e.g. early modern philosophy, covering roughly the period from Descartes to Kant) is a philosophy course, not a history course - the focus is on reconstructing and examining the merits of the arguments, not on asking about the historical origins of or context for their production.

As to where to apply, it really depends on the criteria that are relevant to you. Rankings such as those published by the Times or the Guardian are notoriously unreliable for individual students, unless your only interest is in some vague notion of public 'prestige', since the set of criteria they use is unlikely to match your own.

The Philosophical Gourmet Report - http://www.philosophicalgourmet.com/overall.asp - is a ranking system that is explicitly for the use of graduate students considering PhD courses, but in my opinion still gives a better picture to an undergraduate of the best UK universities for philosophy than any less specialized ranking. But again, note that in this case its only concern is the quality of the faculty at the university in question. Factors such as how an undergraduate course is structured, the amount of contact time, and so on, are completely unconsidered. If these things are more important to you, then you need to do some in-depth research.
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