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Philosophy (PhD/MPhil)

3 years (PhD), 1 year (MPhil) (full-time) / opportunities available (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Students on the PhD Philosophy receive supervision from academic staff with a long-standing commitment to excellence and diversity in research, who work at the forefront of pioneering research that orients towards moral and political philosophy, philosophy of mind and psychology, and the intersections between these areas.

Within moral and political philosophy, we have expanded our concentration of expertise on Nietzsche. Work in applied ethics has continued in the area of health and been extended to include the ethics of sport and of biobanking and nutrigenomics.

Research in philosophy of mind and psychology has grown to include interdisciplinary publications on the nature of perception and critical analysis of the conceptual framework underpinning the science of consciousness.

Programme Aims

The PhD programme aims to offer knowledge and expertise to take you on to a role in Higher Education, or employment requiring high-level skills in research or advanced subject knowledge.

This PhD programme recruits a diverse range of Home/EU and International students who want to engage in a research environment that is characterised by the combination of expertise across both analytic and continental approaches to philosophy.

Special Features

Programme Description

‘Positioned at the interface of different traditions, methodologies, theoretical approaches, disciplines and practices, our pioneering research engenders challenging and fascinating questions for our staff and, through our PhD supervision and research-led teaching also for our students at all levels.’ Professor Alison Wray, Director of Research in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy

We welcome PhD applications in staff specialist areas, such as the following:

Research Environment

The School takes the training of research students very seriously, providing the facilities and supervisory guidance to help each student flourish intellectually and work productively. The School has a dedicated suite of PhD research rooms with excellent networked IT facilities. Each student has a travel budget and a contribution to photocopying costs, as well as free printing facilities.

We regularly check with students what training they need, and ensure that it is provided. Our PhD students can apply to get teaching experience with us, and our unique ‘Learning to Teach’ programme is accredited by the Higher Education Academy. The School holds a yearly conference to allow PhD students the opportunity to share work with their peers in a supportive and stimulating multi-disciplinary environment. The Arts and Social Studies Library is well-stocked with books and academic journals in all our subject areas, electronic resources, and specialist collections such as Cardiff Rare Books, a rich collection of over 14,000 items ranging from fifteenth-century incunabula to twentieth-century fine press books.

In a competitive jobs market, our students are encouraged and supported in building up the skills that will make them employable, whatever their career direction. We value the rich experience of our many overseas students, and actively attend to their specific needs in relation to their cultural context of study and the demands of writing elegantly in a second language.

Philosophy is one of the four principal areas of distinctive strength in the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Programme, of which we are a member. For more information see here.

Skills Acquired

The School enables students to develop professional discipline-specific skills, and to share work-in-progress, through its fortnightly student-led workshop, with more generic training provided via the research programmes run by the University’s Graduate College. At the end of their candidatures, doctoral students at Cardiff have gained the capacity for independent and innovative critical thinking and possess a rich array of transferable skills. These include critical reasoning; the ability to engage in detailed analytical study of a variety of textual materials; the ability to engage in independent research; a self-critical attitude; communication skills, both written and oral; the ability to identify and suggest the means to resolving complex problems.

Career Prospects

Academic researcher; university lecturer; transferable skills allow for the development of career paths in any field which requires such skills as clear and logical thinking, the categorisation and critical analysis of data, the identification of beliefs underlying thought and action, ethical principles (e.g. concerning responsibilities and duties). Thus, graduates have potential for careers in teaching, management, librarianship, posts in civil service, journalism and other related fields

Student Testimonial

Jack Price 1st Year Student

'Choosing where to do a PhD is daunting and there are a lot of factors to consider. Apart from excellent, dedicated academic staff, one of the biggest reasons I chose Cardiff was the close-knit feel of the department. While doing a PhD can be a lonely experience, in Cardiff there are always people on hand to make sure that this does not happen. Everybody – research students, academics and administrative staff – is friendly and on-hand for advice, questions or just a cup of tea and a chat. There are plenty of opportunities to share your research and benefit from the expertise of academic staff and fellow PhD students, and you will quickly find yourself part of a broad-minded and welcoming academic community. Training through the University Graduate College is comprehensive and needs-based and presents an excellent opportunity to network with research students outside your discipline. Finally, the academic staff will work with you to ensure that you’re on the right path, nurturing you as a researcher and as a philosopher. The research environment is challenging, stimulating, but always supportive.'

Ethan Chambers 4th Year Student

Through 4 years of studying for a PhD in philosophy at Cardiff University, and another 4 before that (3 years at undergraduate level and one year at MA), my experience has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve been working in the Arts and Social Studies Library, which is in the centre of an area purpose built for a large student population. Lively cafés and bars fill the surrounding streets, with the city centre just a short walk away. The library itself is three huge floors of work stations and reference material for all humanities subjects, with a fourth floor full of comfy chairs and vending machines for taking a break. On the same leafy plot is the John Percival Building, which houses expert and approachable academics from a range of humanities subjects. It’s also home to the friendly and dedicated professional services staff, who ensure that you never need to worry about non-academic matters. The coffee shop and brand new common rooms there enhance the communal feeling further, and the postgraduate only research rooms provide a quiet place to work.

The PhD course provides access to the Learning to Teach module, which grants Associate Fellow status in the Higher Education Committee upon completion. This has allowed me to teach first year seminars in philosophy, which has been enormous fun and has given me invaluable experience. I hope to use that experience to teach at this level in the future; my plans are to complete a post-doc while attempting to publish to give me the qualifications to get a permanent position in higher education. Regular supervisory meetings and monitoring processes have made me feelconnected and well looked after at all times, while giving me the space to perform independent research in my own time. '

Alumni Profiles

Fabio Gironi Graduated 2014

'I had a great time as a PhD student at Cardiff University. Both the academic faculty and the administrative staff have always been extremely helpful and competent, making my experience in Cardiff pleasant and intellectually formative. I was lucky enough to have an excellent supervisor--one of the best experts worldwide on the topic of my thesis--who followed my PhD career with care, offering critique and encouragement in equal measure.

The community of MA and Ph.D Students was also very active, and the weekly discussion groups offered a friendly environment for discussion of ideas pertaining to my research, as well as the occasion of learning something new from fellow students. The facilities at the University are all very good, including a large library with all the texts I needed to write my thesis.'

Fabio Gironi, Irish Research Council Postdoctoral Researcher, University College Dublin

Ryo Chonabayshi Graduated 2012

'I am currently Research Fellow of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) in Tokyo, Japan. I also work for Soka University as a Part-Time Lecturer. During the year 2014-2015, I worked as a secretary of a member of the Japanese Parliament (the House of Representative) while during the year 2012-2013 I worked as PMED (Planning, Monitoring, Evaluating and Documenting) coordinator of Gram Vikas which is a Non Government Organisation in India.

After I came back to Japan in 2013, I decided to establish my foundation as a researcher in my home country, Japan. My Cardiff supervisor, Nick Shackel, put me in contact with a professor in philosophy at Tokyo University, and he gave me some important pieces of advice for my purpose. Following his guidance I have been focusing on having some good publications in Japanese. Fortunately, some of my papers got published in peer-reviewed journals in Japan, and these publications enabled me to apply for some research-related positions in this country, and now, I am getting some good results in my job searching.

First, the education I received at Cardiff Philosophy Section gave me many important skills and abilities that I am now fully able to utilise as a researcher. When I was at Cardiff, I had many invaluable tutorials with my supervisor and also had many good discussions with other members of staff and graduate students in philosophy. I often recall what my supervisor and other people at Cardiff said in the discussions, and these words help me a lot when I write and discuss philosophy.

Second, when I was at Cardiff, the school provided us with an opportunity to take a ‘Learning to Teach’ course for those who wish to teach at higher education level in the future (the course gave Associate status of the Higher Education Academy). The experience of this course helped me in many ways. I learned useful information and skills on the course that I was able to use during my role as a tutor for year one undergraduate students of Philosophy. I have since drawn on those skills to teach in Japan. The status of the course also helped me in a substantial way. In one of the job interviews I had, the interviewers were interested in the Cardiff University ‘Learning to Teach’ course on my CV, and asked me to talk about the experience I gained from the course. I believe the reason why the interviewers were interested in my experience is that the universities in Japan are now trying to improve the teaching quality of the courses they provide and it seems they are now keen to hire people who not only have excellent research skills but also good teaching skills.'

Ryo Chonabayshi, Research Fellow of the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP) in Tokyo, Japan and Part-time Lecturer in Soka University

Entry Requirements

Suitable for graduates in Philosophy and closely related subjects. A First or upper Second class UK Honours degree, or equivalent is required.

Applications for research degrees should be accompanied by a research proposal. This should include a draft title, rationale (the relevance and value of the research at this time), objectives, research questions and research methods.

Applications for Philosophy should also include a 4000 word admission essay on a Philosophical topic of your choice.

You are recommended to email the postgraduate administrator at with your research proposal prior to making a formal application.

The School welcomes applications from students outside the United Kingdom. For non-native speakers of English, an IELTS overall score of 7.5 with at least 7.0 in each sub score is essential.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.


The School offer bursaries worth one year of the Home/EU fee on a competitive basis. For more information please email

The deadline for funding for 2016-17 via the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership | (SWW-DTP) has now expired. The School welcomes enquiries from applicants who are considering applying for funding for a PhD in Philosophy from the SWW-DTP for 2017-18. Please contact with your enquiry.

Applicants are encouraged to investigate the Alternative Guide to Postgraduate funding available for download at the Postgraduate Funding and Fees site

Next intake: The University has four entry points for research degrees: 1 October, 1 January, 1 April, or 1 July

School Contact

Name: ENCAP Postgraduate Office, Timothy Collins  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 4722 



School Website:

More information

School of English, Communication and Philosophy


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