Studying Philosophy, you may be surprised at how little time you’ll spend in lectures and seminars, but don’t think this is because the course is relaxed – as in any university course, you’ll need to do a lot of independent study.
This was one of the things that took me by surprise when I arrived at York last September. It can be tough at first finding the motivation, but luckily the combination of the uni’s supervisor services and office hours for your lecturers makes Philosophy the unique kind of subject that’s as rewarding as you want to make it.
A supervisor is someone who’s assigned to you within the department, for when you need help and to make sure that you’re on track. Their aim is to make sure that your experience at university is the best it possibly can be, whilst also providing essential academic information. This isn’t A-level, as I was reminded constantly- it’s up to you and you alone to attend your classes. The great thing about a supervisor is that they won’t tell you what to do, that’s up for you to decide. But they’ll point you in the right direction, give you heaps of advice and leave you to it. They are also more than likely leaders in their academic field of research which helps if you have anything philosophical you want to chew over too.
Each lecturer will have a few hours every week where you can pop in and talk about any questions that might arise from the material you’re working on. Many of my friends on the course tell me that they regret not going to these ‘office hours’ in their first year, it’s not everyday that you can talk to a world leading researcher about something they are at the forefront of… why would you want to pass that opportunity up? As well as lectures you’ll have seminars, a chance to talk and debate on the material of the week. These are a lot of fun; getting to grips with some of the biggest ideas in history and discussing what you think it’s all about is a great way to spend an hour; learning from other students as well as from your tutor, and gaining a deeper understanding of what you’re looking at.
The main thing that struck me and the first thing that many first years encounter is the whirlpool of things going on in student life. As a new student, one of your main skills that will be put to the test is organisation, finding the balance between study and everything else. Things like cooking your own meals and being in charge of everything else makes university feel like a challenge to keep it all together, but its the best challenge you’ll ever face in your life. If reading lots and thinking loads is your kind of thing then there’s nothing stopping you from doing Philosophy. We’re lucky here at York to have a dedicated department that can help you with any questions you have about the course, and a fantastic set of modules that you have the delight of choosing from in your second and third years. What’s more, there’s so much going on at the university that it’s hard not to find an interest that doesn’t have a society or event to match … University is the place where nothing should stop you from exploring your interests.