Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific Thought BA

Year of entry

2024 course information

Open Days 2024

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UCAS code
Start date
September 2024
Delivery type
On campus
3 years full time
Work placement
Study abroad
Typical A-level offer
Typical Access to Leeds offer
BBB at A Level and pass Access to Leeds
Full entry requirements

Course overview

History and Philosophy of Science

Combining philosophy, psychology, and the history of science, this varied, interesting and unique degree allows you to explore the most fundamental questions about our minds.

You’ll study these different yet closely related specialisms and how they relate to the nature of the mind. By utilising scientific, philosophical, and historical methods, you'll understand what the mind is and how it works. Optional and compulsory modules will allow you to examine the mechanisms of the brain, childhood development, how mental illnesses have historically been conceptualised and treated, the history of psychology, and the philosophical question of what the relationship is between the mind and the brain.

You’ll also be able to study a broader range of topics in philosophy and the history of science. These might include how science is communicated, moral philosophy, artificial intelligence, race and gender, the philosophy of art, and the history of scientific responses to global challenges such as pandemics and major advances in technology.

Additional highlights

  • A flagship ‘Research in History and Philosophy of Science’ module in your second year, unique to Leeds, that will equip you with the research skills you need to successfully complete your final year research project, giving you access to cutting edge research and a variety of research methods from a range of staff members, and allow you to build relationships and a sense of community with peers on your course.
  • A choice between two different kinds of research project in your final year. Both offer you the guidance of an individual supervisor, but one also offers the scaffolded support of an associated module, while the other allows you the freedom to pursue an independent research project of your choosing.
  • The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science has a vibrant body of international staff numbering over 80, with no fewer than 17 Professors across the School’s three disciplines, including two Fellows of the British Academy. Much staff research is internationally renowned and interdisciplinary, with collaborations not only across the natural sciences and social sciences, but also with policy organisations, professional bodies, national museums, charities and faith organisations.
  • The School of Psychology has over 70 members of academic, research and support staff, including 12 Professors, and is renowned for high quality research, much of it in collaboration with government departments, research councils, the NHS and industry.

Specialist facilities

Leeds has world-class facilities for students of Philosophy, Psychology and Scientific thought. The University libraries are among the largest in the UK and offer a course of workshops and webinars to help you make the most of their collections, digital resources and databases.

The School of Psychology has excellent facilities including dedicated computer laboratories, EEG equipment for measuring the brain's electrical activity, and the human appetite research unit with its state-of-the-art facilities.

Take a look around our libraries:

Course details

The first year of the course consists of an introduction to each of the three academic disciplines: Philosophy, Psychology, and History of Science. The core psychological element is the study of cognitive psychology, and you'll also choose to study either developmental or social psychology. The core philosophy and history of science modules will introduce you to philosophical approaches to studying science in general and the mind in particular, the history of science in general and the history of psychology in particular. You'll choose to study either ethics or the nature of knowledge and reality. In addition, you'll have a range of smaller, ‘taster’ modules to choose from to introduce you to topics outside of but related to your core subjects.

The second year of the course consists of more advanced modules in each disciplinary area and a bespoke research skills module in the history & philosophy of science. The core elements of this year are a module focused on the history of psychiatry and mental Illness, and advanced cognitive psychology. You'll then build on your first year by studying advanced social or developmental psychology, topics in political and moral philosophy, or epistemology and metaphysics, and further study in the history and philosophy of science. There is also the opportunity to take ‘discovery’ modules that allow you to explore subjects beyond the scope of this course.

The final year of the course centres on a Final Year Research Project supervised by specialist academics, as well as the choice of a specialist module in the philosophy of mind or a module which studies the historically evolving connections between mind, brain and society. In addition, you can choose from a range of advanced topics in psychology, such as feminist social psychology, applied social psychology, the development of language and literacy, reasoning & decision making, and cognition & emotion. A range of topics in philosophy and the history of science allow for further specialisation. Typical examples include philosophy of biology, philosophy of social science, bioethics, philosophy of language, philosophy of technology, feminist philosophy, philosophy of sex & relationships, science communication, and the history & philosophy of artificial intelligence.

Course structure

The list shown below represents typical modules/components studied and may change from time to time. Read more in our terms and conditions.

Year 1 compulsory modules

History of Psychology (10 credits) – This module looks at how different understandings of psychology as a scientific discipline emerged and evolved, focusing on the people behind the ideas, from Darwin to Freud to Chomsky and beyond.

Introduction to the History of Science (10 credits) – This module explores how modern science came into being, recognising its global historical origins and connections, whether modern science is a single entity or better understood as a set of distinct sciences, and how science has come to be authoritative in modern life.

How Science Works (10 credits) – This module introduces you to key themes, debates and ideas in the philosophy of science such as whether scientific theories tell us how the world really is, whether scientific theories come from a 'flash of genius' or careful observation, whether the relationship between theory, models and data is fallible, or whether there are better ways of understanding science relating to gender, race or politics.

The Mind (10 credits) – This module introduces you to foundational issues in the philosophy of mind with a particular focus on the "Mind-Body" problem: the challenge of explaining how to relate our beliefs, experiences, and emotions to our physical brain states and body movements, and whether scientific study of the mind and brain answer our questions about the mind-body relationship.

Cognitive Psychology (20 credits) – This module introduces you to the development of cognitive psychology and its associated research methodologies. Topics include attention, memory, high level mental activities such as thinking, reasoning and problem solving, the impact of emotion on cognition, the notion of consciousness and the challenges of studying such a nebulous concept.

One of:

Developmental Psychology (20 credits) – This module provides an overview of key aspects of developmental psychology, including cognitive, social and moral development.

Social Psychology (20 credits) – This module provides an overview of key aspects of social psychology such as, person perception, attitudes, social influence, the self, prosocial behaviours, and inter-personal relations.

One of:

Knowledge, Self and Reality (20 credits) – This module introduces you to central issues in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and metaphysics which concern the self and its relationship to the rest of the world.

The Good, The Bad, The Right, The Wrong (20 credits) – This module introduces you to some of the key themes, debates and ideas in moral and political philosophy.

Year 1 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Thinking About Race (10 credits)
  • Magic, Science and Religion (10 credits)
  • Darwin, Germs and the Bomb (10 credits)
  • History of Modern Medicine (10 credits)

Year 2 compulsory modules

Research in History and Philosophy of Science (20 credits) – The primary purpose of this module is to equip students with the practical research skills and intellectual confidence needed to tackle their own research project in their final year. There will be a focus on the range of different research methods in HPS, including e.g. philosophical analysis, historiography, archival work, working with artefacts (including some engagement with our Museum of the History of Science) and oral histories. Research-active staff members lead sessions on their own cutting-edge research, and the work that goes into it behind the scenes.

History of Psychiatry and Mental Illness (20 credits) – This module surveys psychiatric developments from the late 18th century to the present; it will explore how theories and therapies have been a part of philosophical, economic or social discussions; and it will investigate how changes in psychiatry have affected lives of those deemed to be mentally ill.

Advanced Cognitive Psychology (20 credits) –This module explores advanced topics, methods and theory in contemporary cognitive psychology, including both classic and cutting-edge theories and research methods, and neuropsychology, how cognitive processes may be interrelated, and how the knowledge resulting from research could be applied to real world problems.

One of:

Advanced Social Psychology (20 credits) –This module explores advanced topics, methods and research applications in the field of social psychology, including the ways psychologists understand social behaviour, cognition, and attitudes, and apply these in practice.

Advanced Developmental Psychology (20 credits) –This module explores to advanced topics, methods and research applications in the field of developmental psychology, including the ways psychologists understand infancy, childhood and adult development across the lifespan, and typical developmental processes as well as neurodevelopmental disorders and individual differences.

Year 2 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Global Challenges: The Long View
  • Why Trust Science?
  • How to Live Together: Topics in Political Philosophy
  • Do The Right Thing: Topics in Moral Philosophy
  • How Do You Know? Topics in Epistemology
  • Reality Check: Topics in Metaphysics

Year 3 compulsory modules

Final Year Project in Philosophy or History of Science (40 credits) – You can either conduct independent research on a topic you've previously studied or select one of the final year modules to serve as the basis of and scaffolding for your independent research, allowing you to explore a topic you haven’t previously studied.

One of:

Philosophy of Mind (20 credits) – This advanced level module explores central topics in the philosophy of mind, including such topics as intentionality, functionalism, dualism, supervenience, mental causation, emotion and self-deception.

Mind Brain and Society (20 credits) – This advanced level module examines key theories and technologies in the history of psychology and neurology, to understand how these have driven policy and debates around broader social, political and economic issues.

Year 3 optional modules (selection of typical options shown below)

  • Philosophy of the Social Sciences
  • Bioethics
  • Feminist Philosophy
  • Science Communication
  • Philosophy of Sex and Relationships
  • Philosophy of Biology
  • Philosophy of Language
  • Philosophical Issues in Technology
  • History and Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence
  • Feminist Social Psychology
  • Applied Social Psychology
  • Development of Language and Literacy
  • Reasoning and Decision Making
  • Cognition and Emotion

Discovery modules

Throughout your degree, you will benefit from a range of opportunities to expand your intellectual horizons outside or within your subject area.

This course gives you the opportunity to choose from a selection of discovery modules in years 2 and 3. These are a great way to tailor your study in accordance with your interests or career aspirations. Find out more about discovery modules on our Broadening webpages.

Learning and teaching

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science and the School of Psychology are home to tutors who are at the forefront of research in their fields.

We use a range of teaching and learning methods to help you benefit from their expertise, normally including lectures, seminars, tutorials and occasionally workshops. However, independent study is integral to the degree, since this is where you develop your skills in research, interpretation and analysis.

The School of Psychology supplies dedicated additional tutorial support in essay writing conventions to PPST students; scientific referencing methods, and instruction in the statistical methods used in psychology research. It also provides a dedicated link tutor to ensure coordination and cohesion of student experience across the modules offered by the two teaching units.

You'll also have a personal tutor to support your academic development and help you succeed on your chosen path, as you develop the transferable skills and attributes that will impress potential employers.

On this course you’ll be taught by our expert academics, from lecturers through to professors. You may also be taught by industry professionals with years of experience, as well as trained postgraduate researchers, connecting you to some of the brightest minds on campus.


We use many different types of assessment including: essays, exams, group work and oral presentations.

Our Library Skills Team provides exam skills training. We also provide subject-specific sessions on essay writing. Teaching staff will be available throughout term-time to talk to you one-on-one about how to get the most out of your assessments. New students will have a suite of study skills modules to help with the transition to University teaching and assessment.

Assessment is not just a way of testing you, but a key way to consolidate your learning on the degree. We design our assessments to reflect the most valuable skills our subjects can teach you – how to construct a well-developed argument, explain complicated ideas clearly, or critically evaluate and interpret philosophical texts and psychological research.

Not only will these skills allow you to perform well in your degree, but they'll also help you excel in your future lives and careers.

Entry requirements

A-level: AAB

Other course specific tests:

Where an applicant is taking the EPQ in a relevant subject this might be considered alongside other Level 3 qualifications and may attract an alternative offer in addition to the standard offer. If you are taking A Levels, this would be ABB at A Level and grade A in the EPQ.

We welcome applications from mature students with Access qualifications, and from students with a wide range of qualifications.

Alternative qualification

Access to HE Diploma

Pass diploma with 60 credits overall, including at least 45 credits at level 3, of which 30 credits must be at Distinction and 15 credits at Merit or higher. An interview and a piece of written work may be required.


BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma: DDD. Other BTEC qualifications are also considered. Please contact the Admissions Office for more information.

Cambridge Pre-U

D3, M1, M2.

International Baccalaureate

35 points overall including 16 at Higher Level

Irish Leaving Certificate (higher Level)

H2, H2, H2, H2, H3, H3

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers

AB in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers, or A in Advanced Highers and AABBB in Highers, or AAAABB in Highers

Welsh Baccalaureate

The Welsh Baccalaureate is not typically included in the academic conditions of an offer made to you for this course. If you choose to undertake the Welsh Baccalaureate we would strongly encourage you to draw upon these experiences within your personal statement, as your qualification will then be taken into account both when your application is initially considered by the selection panel and again when reviewed by the admissions tutor at the time your A-level results are passed to us.

Other Qualifications

European Baccalaureate: 80%.

Read more about UK and Republic of Ireland accepted qualifications or contact the School’s Undergraduate Admissions Team.

Alternative entry

We’re committed to identifying the best possible applicants, regardless of personal circumstances or background.

Access to Leeds is a contextual admissions scheme which accepts applications from individuals who might be from low income households, in the first generation of their immediate family to apply to higher education, or have had their studies disrupted.

Find out more about Access to Leeds and contextual admissions.

Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year

This course is designed for students whose backgrounds mean they are less likely to attend university (also known as widening participation backgrounds) and who do not currently meet admissions criteria for direct entry to a degree.

The course will give you the opportunity to be taught by academic staff and provides intensive support to enable your development of academic skills and knowledge. On successful completion of your foundation year, you will progress to your chosen degree course. Find out more about the Arts and Humanities with Foundation Year


We accept a range of international equivalent qualifications. For more information contact the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science Undergraduate Admissions team.

You can find out more about what it is like to be an international student by speaking to a Link to Leeds ambassador. They can’t help you with your application, but they can tell you how they have found living and studying in Leeds.

International Foundation Year

International students who do not meet the academic requirements for undergraduate study may be able to study the University of Leeds International Foundation Year. This gives you the opportunity to study on campus, be taught by University of Leeds academics and progress onto a wide range of Leeds undergraduate courses. Find out more about International Foundation Year programmes.

English language requirements

IELTS 6.5 overall, with no less than 6.0 in any component. For other English qualifications, read English language equivalent qualifications.

Improve your English
If you're an international student and you don't meet the English language requirements for this programme, you may be able to study our undergraduate pre-sessional English course, to help improve your English language level.


UK: To be confirmed

International: To be confirmed

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2024/25
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students are set by the UK Government and will be £9,250 for students starting in 2024/25.

The fee may increase in future years of your course in line with inflation only, as a consequence of future changes in Government legislation and as permitted by law.

Tuition fees for UK undergraduate students starting in 2025/26
Tuition fees for UK full-time undergraduate students starting in 2025/26 have not yet been confirmed by the UK government. When the fee is available we will update individual course pages.

Tuition fees for international undergraduate students starting in 2024/25 and 2025/26
Tuition fees for international students for 2024/25 are available on individual course pages. Fees for students starting in 2025/26 will be available from September 2024.

Tuition fees for a study abroad or work placement year
If you take a study abroad or work placement year, you’ll pay a reduced tuition fee during this period. For more information, see Study abroad and work placement tuition fees and loans.

Read more about paying fees and charges.

There may be additional costs related to your course or programme of study, or related to being a student at the University of Leeds. Read more on our living costs and budgeting page.

Scholarships and financial support

If you have the talent and drive, we want you to be able to study with us, whatever your financial circumstances. There is help for students in the form of loans and non-repayable grants from the University and from the government. Find out more in our Undergraduate funding overview.


Apply to this course through UCAS. Check the deadline for applications on the UCAS website.

Read our guidance about applying.

International students apply through UCAS in the same way as UK students. Our network of international representatives can help you with your application. If you’re unsure about the application process, contact the admissions team for help.

Read about visas, immigration and other information in International students. We recommend that international students apply as early as possible to ensure that they have time to apply for their visa.

Admissions policy

University of Leeds Admissions Policy 2025

This course is taught by

School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science
School of Psychology

Contact us

School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science Undergraduate Admissions


Career opportunities

This unique multi-disciplinary approach to the study of the mind will give you an impressive range of subject knowledge. You’ll develop transferable skills that really stand out to employers. You’ll be supported to develop as a critical thinking, independent learner and global citizen, with skills from both science and the humanities, notably the ability to interpret and analyse both qualitative and quantitative data, confident working independently or within a team, and you’ll have the advanced communication skills necessary to present and defend your own arguments and work.

These are all valuable skills that have allowed graduates to pursue a wide range of careers in areas such as charity work, the civil service, politics, education, journalism, the media and management. They’d also be valuable in fields such as social work, marketing and consultancy. Many of our graduates go on to pursue postgraduate study or further training.

Careers support

We encourage you to prepare for your career from day one. That’s one of the reasons Leeds graduates are so sought after by employers.

Leeds for Life is our unique approach to helping you make the most of University by supporting your academic and personal development. Find out more at the Leeds for Life website.

The Careers Centre and staff in your faculty provide a range of help and advice to help you plan your career and make well-informed decisions along the way, even after you graduate. Find out more about Careers support.

Study abroad and work placements

Study abroad

All University of Leeds students can apply to spend a year studying abroad. It’s a great way to gain an insight into another culture, as well as gaining valuable experience that will look great on your CV.

The School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science also has exclusive exchange links with universities in Denmark, France and Spain – language classes are available before you go to prepare you for the experience.

Read more about Study abroad in Philosophy, Religion and History of Science

Work placements

Practical work experience can help you decide on your career and improve your employability. On this course you have the option to apply to take a placement year module with organisations across the public, private and voluntary sectors in the UK, or overseas.

Find out more about work experience on the Careers website.

You’ll also have additional opportunities to gain work experience during the degree. For example, you can get involved in the ongoing development of the Leeds Museum of the History of Science, Technology and Medicine.

Student profile: Otto Lyons

My course seemed to offer a combination of things that I had both studied and wanted to understand further, as well as a range of interesting topics I had never considered.
Find out more about Otto Lyons's time at Leeds