Reading list

The handbook to the BA Philosophy from the University of London gives the structure of the studies and a suggested pathway. Each module is given a brief explanation, some typical exam questions and a list of suggested books. As preparation for starting the degree, I’m putting together some of the reading list here, starting with those modules or module parts that are either obligatory (the first five) or that I expect to sign up for (the three further and two optional courses).

The UL suggestions are first books for listed in a module and are followed by ones under ‘also’ that seem relevant and interesting to read (relying on Amazon and other comments, as well as Roger Scruton’s suggestions in Modern Philosophy). This latter group may or may not go beyond what is relevant for the degree, so decide if this is an issue and pick carefully.

These are all links to books on, but do consider other sources such as other Amazon countries, ebay, and anitquariat online sources.

Year 1



Modern philosophy: Descartes, Locke, Berkeley and Hume

General background

Year 2



Greek philosophy: Plato and the Pre-Socratics


Year 3

Ethics: historical perspectives





Further course 1 – Metaphysics


Year 4

Further course 2 – Methodology

Further course 3 – Modern philosophy: Spinoza, Leibniz and Kant







Year 5

There is nothing certain about the choices I’ve made here, just that of all of the optional courses they seem to be the most interesting / relevant at the moment.

The more specialist books listed here start to get a bit pricey. So, be clear on the topics to follow – probable exam content, my interest – and see about getting them from a German library, even as German text, setting up a favourite alert, or of arranging a reading trip.

Optional course 1 – Continental philosophy from Hegel

Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
Nietzsche (1844-1900)
Husserl (1859–1938)
Heidegger (1889–1976)
  • Being and Time – Martin Heidegger; Macquarrie, E. & Robinson, J. (trans.)
Sartre (1905–1980)
Merleau-Ponty (1908–1961)

Reading Merlau-Ponty probably means also covering Sartre as the two are in contrast, and I think their differences crop up as a regular exam question content.

Also, pointed to by Roger Scruton in modern Philosophy, regarding how philosophers approach mind <> physical separation

Optional course 2 – Philosophy of Religion (requires Methodology)

There are various issues that could be covered here. All of the sections are listed, but I’ve only put in books for sub-sections that seem most interesting at his stage. As comment on the selection, it seems odd to investigate something with which, as a believer, I have little difficulty. Better surely to investigate those that I find more problematic, or that help develop the ideas that I have in working with philosophy as a believer. Or that I see value in arguing out a position or clarification. Typically, I imagine I would argue from belief in the bible as God’s word and an understanding of it.

The reading list kicks off with ten suggested anthologies on the philosophy of religion, twelve introductory texts to various of the sub-sections, and a suggestion to consult the following journals:

  • Religious Studies
  • Faith and Philosophy
  • International Journal for the Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophia
A – The existence of God:
v. Rationality & faith

Within the history of philosophy there has been a resistance to the attempt to prove the existence of a god on rational grounds alone. This is represented by the fideistic tradition. Fideism has been associated with various forms of scepticism, or a suspicion of reason, or else from a desire not to underplay the role of faith or revelation in the explanation of a belief in God.

B – Philosophical theology
i. Divine attributes
ii. Divine action
iii. The problem of evil
C. Religious epistemology

Religious epistemology is dominated by the question how, if at all, can belief in a god be justified?

iv. Fideism
D. Religious language

Are all attempts to make theological statements cognitively meaningless? Are the criteria of meaningfulness to be found  within religion? Can God be spoken of literally and positively, or only negatively, or metaphorically?

E. The soul and immortality

Other optional courses that I find interesting

Optional Course – Philosophy of Language (requires Metaphysics)

– having read chapter 6 of Roger Scruton’s Modern Philosophy, Frege seems an interesting person to read.


Optional Course – Philosophy of Mathematics (currently unavailable)


About Christopher J
I teach English, make digital images, write and encourage others. I believe.

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