Undergraduate Philosophy Watch

CLS90
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Hey there, I’m looking for someone who has studied Philosophy at undergraduate level. I am enrolling at Birkbeck for the 19/20 academic years, and would love to pick their brains about what to expect, writing essays, planning a timetable, and everything else Philosophy. Please get in touch, I look forward to hearing from you,

Regards
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gjd800
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I did, but not at that institution. Most people don't do more than a few hours a day, and now I teach, I am lucky if my groups even bother doing the required reading :laugh:

My advice is do the required, then do a bit more. The sooner you get into the habit of reading extra relevant papers, the better. Try to write your essays like a research paper. Clear, concise intro stating what you will argue and why. Step by step argumentation; keep extraneous info out, make sure each paragraph logically follows. Interpret other ideas and theories charitably. Clear, concise conclusion stating what you argued and how.

In terms of what to expect: not much contact time, so be sure to use seminars to the fullest. Lots of reading, some of it terse and difficult. Don't be scared to get an 'Introduction to...' book for a synopsis of difficult material. Use the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy CONSTANTLY (plato.stanford.edu). Ask questions. If unsure, ask again.

Do you have specific questions?
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CLS90
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(Original post by gjd800)
I did, but not at that institution. Most people don't do more than a few hours a day, and now I teach, I am lucky if my groups even bother doing the required reading :laugh:

My advice is do the required, then do a bit more. The sooner you get into the habit of reading extra relevant papers, the better. Try to write your essays like a research paper. Clear, concise intro stating what you will argue and why. Step by step argumentation; keep extraneous info out, make sure each paragraph logically follows. Interpret other ideas and theories charitably. Clear, concise conclusion stating what you argued and how.

In terms of what to expect: not much contact time, so be sure to use seminars to the fullest. Lots of reading, some of it terse and difficult. Don't be scared to get an 'Introduction to...' book for a synopsis of difficult material. Use the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy CONSTANTLY (plato.stanford.edu). Ask questions. If unsure, ask again.

Do you have specific questions?
Thanks for the response gjd800,

My biggest concern is writing essays. I want to get some practice in before enrolling as i think it would strengthen my personal statement (..& since I don’t have extensive history of formal study in philosophy.) Did you have any experience in writing philosophical essays before you enrolled and how did you tackle questions/what was your mode of study?

Thanks for all the advice!
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gjd800
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(Original post by CLS90)
Thanks for the response gjd800,

My biggest concern is writing essays. I want to get some practice in before enrolling as i think it would strengthen my personal statement (..& since I don’t have extensive history of formal study in philosophy.) Did you have any experience in writing philosophical essays before you enrolled and how did you tackle questions/what was your mode of study?

Thanks for all the advice!
I didn't! I had some hobbyist experience of reading some philosophy (but not in the detail you do at degree level) but that was about it. I basically got accepted because an old teacher did me a beast of a reference and because I had some familiarity with Indian philosophy (and the Indian phil module was really why I applied where I did).

My main thing was to decide which side I was going to argue for: do I agree with the question or not? The trick to a good phil essay is to never sit on the fence. Pick something and consistently argue toward it. Make sure everything you write is advancing your central thesis. It's ok to offer your own opinion and assessment so engage critically with the work of other philosophers. Read, re-read and cut out extraneous material or peripheral points. Reading example papers might help but some departments are funny about that. Worth asking about. It's a learning curve but it's entirely doable. Your dept will no doubt cover the basics. I might have a check sheet from Harvard somewhere on writing good phil essays, I'll see if I can dig it out!
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Joe312
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I would echo gjd800's primary point that to get the most out of an undergrad degree, doing the required reading on the course and then a bit more additional 'reading around' honestly is so important.

Regarding essays, I would say that in Philosophy, the better and stronger you manage to represent the opposing view, the better and stronger yours then becomes for having successfully argued against it, so make sure to do that.

Regarding structure of an essay, something I was always advised to do is to do an intro where you outline the debate and what you're going to argue, and then do a description of the relevant philosophical views/theories, before getting on to adding your own views. It's like you have to show that you are aware of the current field of philosophical thought before adding your own, to show you see where your ideas fit in. Plus you'd be surprised at how impressive it can appear to simply do a mere explanation of a philosopher's views really well, so that should be the first thing after the intro imo.
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The Empire Odyssey
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(Original post by CLS90)
Hey there, I’m looking for someone who has studied Philosophy at undergraduate level. I am enrolling at Birkbeck for the 19/20 academic years, and would love to pick their brains about what to expect, writing essays, planning a timetable, and everything else Philosophy. Please get in touch, I look forward to hearing from you,

Regards
Everyone's different. I'm a recent graduate with Philosophy as a minor.

Expect it to be difficult and challenging, compared to A-level it's a new game. But that's what I loved about it. It was so intellectually stimulating. If you know the modules you'll be studying, especially if it's philosopher-based like Hume or Kant, pick up a book of theirs and read it before you start. For me, Philosophy was just so difficult to get my head around, especially the more complex theories like metaphysics and etc. But I wish I had read philosopher's works before my modules started, and even whilst I was on those modules.

I recommend using the above poster's advice. At my uni, we could favour a viewpoint but we had to make sure there was enough credibility as well as a few flaws to make our case. We didn't have to present a balanced argument. It was more about how well we could write our own argument, using philosophical concepts of others to inform and sustain our own argument(s).

Couldn't give you tips of planning a timetable. Just use your time wisely. Make sure you gain a few friends because philosophy is a discussion and always having a few friends to spar with. Our lectures were always taught in a seminar environment (classroom setting). So our lecturers would stand and talk at us, then we would have a few minutes to talk to one another about what he said. Perhaps you would have 1hr lecture, then a 2hr seminar. But that just depends obviously.

Defo use https://www.iep.utm.edu/ and https://plato.stanford.edu/ for everything else. I relied on this for the most of my course, to get my head around concepts. These websites gave me a great start up on where to look further for study.
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wants.philosophy
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I've spent the last minutes cyberstalking CLS90 because I am in a similar predicament. So exciting to discover I am not alone

I am starting UoL's intro course (American student so this should help me gain admission) in a couple months and have been reading as many intro books this last month as humanly possible. Presently wrapped up in the Pre-Socratics. I am also following Geoffrey Klempner's Pathways to Philosophy programs purchased in book format but am stuck on my first essay.

Did you ever find that check sheet?

Also does anyone have any guidance on how to be successful in the UoL Philosophy program? I work full time teaching English abroad and my job is quite consuming. I understand that there is no instruction for this program so I am unsure how many modules I can handle simultaneously. My strategy right now is to go through the pathways program and try to find other online classes which correspond with the UoL modules. For example, Oxford has a 'short course' that uses the same book so I am registering for that in September. However, it is only 10 CAT points so I assume there is something intrinsically different? How do I ensure that I am ready for the exams?

I am surprised nobody has made a wiki for each of these modules, listing helpful resources. Definitely going to make it my project while I work through the program! Or maybe such a treasure trove already exists?
(Original post by gjd800)
I did, but not at that institution. Most people don't do more than a few hours a day, and now I teach, I am lucky if my groups even bother doing the required reading :laugh:

My advice is do the required, then do a bit more. The sooner you get into the habit of reading extra relevant papers, the better. Try to write your essays like a research paper. Clear, concise intro stating what you will argue and why. Step by step argumentation; keep extraneous info out, make sure each paragraph logically follows. Interpret other ideas and theories charitably. Clear, concise conclusion stating what you argued and how.

In terms of what to expect: not much contact time, so be sure to use seminars to the fullest. Lots of reading, some of it terse and difficult. Don't be scared to get an 'Introduction to...' book for a synopsis of difficult material. Use the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy CONSTANTLY (plato.stanford.edu). Ask questions. If unsure, ask again.

Do you have specific questions?
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gjd800
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(Original post by wants.philosophy)
I've spent the last minutes cyberstalking CLS90 because I am in a similar predicament. So exciting to discover I am not alone

I am starting UoL's intro course (American student so this should help me gain admission) in a couple months and have been reading as many intro books this last month as humanly possible. Presently wrapped up in the Pre-Socratics. I am also following Geoffrey Klempner's Pathways to Philosophy programs purchased in book format but am stuck on my first essay.

Did you ever find that check sheet?

Also does anyone have any guidance on how to be successful in the UoL Philosophy program? I work full time teaching English abroad and my job is quite consuming. I understand that there is no instruction for this program so I am unsure how many modules I can handle simultaneously. My strategy right now is to go through the pathways program and try to find other online classes which correspond with the UoL modules. For example, Oxford has a 'short course' that uses the same book so I am registering for that in September. However, it is only 10 CAT points so I assume there is something intrinsically different? How do I ensure that I am ready for the exams?

I am surprised nobody has made a wiki for each of these modules, listing helpful resources. Definitely going to make it my project while I work through the program! Or maybe such a treasure trove already exists?
I didn't (and I'm not currently at home) but I will look later. I have since gathered some other ones from various professors etc so I will dig the out!
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gjd800
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(Original post by wants.philosophy)
I've spent the last minutes cyberstalking CLS90 because I am in a similar predicament. So exciting to discover I am not alone

I am starting UoL's intro course (American student so this should help me gain admission) in a couple months and have been reading as many intro books this last month as humanly possible. Presently wrapped up in the Pre-Socratics. I am also following Geoffrey Klempner's Pathways to Philosophy programs purchased in book format but am stuck on my first essay.

Did you ever find that check sheet?

Also does anyone have any guidance on how to be successful in the UoL Philosophy program? I work full time teaching English abroad and my job is quite consuming. I understand that there is no instruction for this program so I am unsure how many modules I can handle simultaneously. My strategy right now is to go through the pathways program and try to find other online classes which correspond with the UoL modules. For example, Oxford has a 'short course' that uses the same book so I am registering for that in September. However, it is only 10 CAT points so I assume there is something intrinsically different? How do I ensure that I am ready for the exams?

I am surprised nobody has made a wiki for each of these modules, listing helpful resources. Definitely going to make it my project while I work through the program! Or maybe such a treasure trove already exists?
Here are a few resources
Last edited by gjd800; 3 weeks ago
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wants.philosophy
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It must be Christmas in July. Thanks!
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gjd800
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(Original post by wants.philosophy)
It must be Christmas in July. Thanks!
No probs, glad to help.
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