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University of London Diploma and BA Degree in Philosophy
pathways and the international programme

About the International Programme

The University of London International Programme is designed and assessed according to the same standards of the BA Honours degree taken by Internal students attending one of the Colleges of London University.

The University of London BA Degree in Philosophy via the International Programme is administered by Birkbeck College London. Academic staff from Birkbeck College plan the syllabuses, develop and write study materials especially for external students, set the examination papers and mark scripts.

The twelve module course in Philosophy, which takes British students three years studying full-time, usually requires at least 4–5 years for distance learning students. So it is worth reflecting for a moment how much you really want a BA Philosophy degree.

In those five years, you will learn a great deal of philosophy. The reason for taking the degree is not just for the glory of adding 'BA (Hons) London' to your name. Or it had better not be, because if it is, the chances are that you will not finish the course.

London University do offer two less demanding alternatives, a Diploma in Philosophy which normally takes 2—3 years for the eight modules, and a Certificate in Philosophy which takes 1—2 years for four modules. The entrance requirements for the Certificate are lower than for the BA or Diploma.

Tuition via the Pathways School of Philosophy 2003–2014

Over the 12 years that students taking the University of London International Programme in Philosophy were offered tuition by the Pathways School of Philosophy, the number of examination grades in the 'First' category (70 and above) rose from the typical 10–20 per cent to 40–60 per cent. This is an impressive achievement. But there is no mystery in how this came about: students received an unprecedented level of support, which is documented in over 1000 essay reviews by Geoffrey Klempner collected at Electronic Philosopher.

This is what we told our University of London students:

You will be assigned a Pathways mentor, who will communicate with you on a one-to-one basis. In the course of studying for one course module you will send work regularly to your mentor for evaluation. Your mentor will will discuss the points raised in each assignment, as well as indicating the marks which your work would be likely to receive when assessed at the appropriate level.

We estimate that in studying for one module, you will send your mentor between four and eight pieces of work of around 2000—2500 words. So you will be aiming to produce an assignment or essay every three to four weeks. If you are studying for more than one module at the same time, the work load is correspondingly increased. Your mentor will also be on hand if at any time you get stuck or need advice with your studies.

The purpose of writing essays is to develop and enhance your understanding of a subject. It is not a good idea to try to learn essays 'off by heart'. When you sit the exam, you might get lucky, and find an examination question that exactly matches the essay you have memorized. But it is far more likely that the question will ask for something subtly different. Then you will have to think, which is exactly what the Examiners want you to do.

One great advantage of attending written examinations is that they severely curtail opportunities for plagiarism, a practice which has reached epidemic proportions in some universities. There is no way you can earn a good London BA Honours degree by cheating. However, if you are prepared to do the work, and think for yourself, your efforts will be handsomely rewarded.

In other words, there are no short cuts to good results. You have to study hard and continually practice your essay writing. The most important thing, however, is that the answer should come from you and not copied from some book. Examiners are interested in is not just how much you know but how good a philosopher you are. What most impresses an examiner is your ability to think on your feet.