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Current students' handbook

Being a student in the Department of Philosophy at King's College London

Making the transition from school to university involves managing your time effectively so that you are able to prepare thoroughly for your classes and then devote the necessary time to your coursework and examinations. The hours that you spend studying independently are vital to getting the most out of your course and are fundamental to enabling you to emerge from university as an expert in your field with the best possible degree.

The Department of Philosophy offers a broad education in the core topics of philosophy, and also a wide range of optional modules.

Teaching is carried out through a combination of lectures and discussion classes. Each lecture hour per module is accompanied by either a tutorial or a seminar, whose aim is to help develop skills of independent thinking.

Equally important is private study time, including preparation for classes, where you may be asked to make a short presentation, or formulate some questions for discussion. You will generally write two formative essays per module, on which you will receive written feedback, as preparation for your assessed work.

In your third year, you have the option of writing a dissertation that enables you to work one-on-one with a member of staff. The department runs a large number of informal reading groups, and you are encouraged to make use of weekly office hours in which staff are available to see students.

View a diagram of how you will progress through university.


What is preparation? 
  • Preparation is the necessary work that you do in advance of each of your classes.
  • It will involve a range of activities, depending on your subject (e.g. doing set work for a class, or engaging with set questions for seminar discussion, or developing your own questions and ideas for presentation or debate).
What will I achieve through preparation? 
  • Preparing thoroughly for seminars enables you to gain the maximum profit from the hours that you spend in class with your fellow students and your lecturers/seminar leaders.
  • Preparation gives you the ability to engage fully with lectures and to participate confidently in seminars.
  • It also enables you to articulate further questions to enhance your learning.
When is preparation important?
  • It is important to prepare prior to each class for each module on a weekly basis to derive the full benefit from the time you spend in class.

Independent learning

What is independent learning? 
  • Independent learning is the work that you do outside of class in order to broaden your engagement with your subject area.
  • It can involve reading secondary sources, further primary sources, and seeking out further sources relevant to your topic of study .
  • It helps you to pose your own questions about what you are studying in an informed way.
What will I achieve through independent learning? 
  • You will achieve a far deeper understanding and greater appreciation of your topic of study.
  • You will acquire valuable skills in research, which will prepare you for independent study projects.
  • You will be able to think critically through complex issues.
When is independent learning important? 
  • Independent learning is crucial to being able to complete your coursework essays and assignments throughout your degree course.
  • It is necessary when revising for examinations.
  • It is more broadly important in giving you the confidence to participate within class and to get the most out of each module you take.

Teaching and resources

How will I study?
  • By attending classes, and using the guidance and knowledge you acquire on a cumulative basis throughout your modules in your degree course.
  • Through consultation with and support from your personal tutors.
  • By paying attention to feedback in consultation sessions, in class, and on your coursework.
  • By engaging with KEATS (e-learning platform), as required, in your modules.
  • By acquainting yourself with the resources at your disposal for your particular subject area.
  • Through feedback from your tutor or lecturer. Feedback is an exercise in learning rather than a quantitative measure of how well you have done in your last piece of work. Read the College policy on feedback here (PDF).
Where will I study?
There is a range of resources available to you on campus and in the local area to support your study:
Personal tutors

Your personal tutor is there to offer you academic and personal support in the following ways:

  • be a responsible person in whom you can confide;
  • meet with you each term in order to discuss your progress;
  • be available for you to consult in person during office hours, or at other times by appointment, and keep you informed of any changes in their contact details or personal availability;
  • provide a link between you and the College;
  • assist you in finding solutions to academic and other problems that you may have;
  • recommend for you other individuals or services who may be better placed to assist you with a specific problem.

Further resources and links

STUDENT PROFILETom Knowles, Philosophy BA
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