Study With Us - BA (Hons) Philosophy...

Bachelor of Arts (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition

BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition

Recruitment is currently closed for this programme.

BA Philosophy Flyer

The BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition is a part-time, distance-learning programme that allows students to encounter those outstanding figures in the history of philosophy who are also major figures in the history of Catholic thought. The course also presents the Catholic tradition of philosophy to students as a living, dynamic reality, in critical and constructive dialogue with the other philosophical traditions at work in our contemporary culture. The course aims to engage Catholic students fully with the western philosophical tradition, to enable them to understand their faith better and so to contribute to the evangelisation of the culture in which they live.

Why study philosophy at Maryvale?

Philosophical thought underpins our everyday assumptions, ideas and ideals. The Catholic Faith has interacted with philosophy since its earliest days, and philosophy and Faith are deeply intertwined. A deeper understanding of philosophy and of the interaction between philosophy and Faith deepens our understanding of Faith itself. In addition, a firm insight into the western philosophical tradition helps our engagement with the wider society, equips us as apologists for the Faith and enhances our ability to engage critically and constructively with those questioning our Faith or wishing to know more about it.

The course is at undergraduate honours degree level, and is validated by The Open University. Within this programme, students may gain a Higher Education Certificate and Diploma in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition for two and four years study respectively. To suit the needs of clerical and religious students, there are opportunities to take appropriately ordered combinations of modules, from the degree course.

What are the entry requirements?

In general, entry to this degree programme is ‘open’, in the sense that no specific previous qualifications are needed, but evidence will be sought of ability for degree level work and the application will need to be supported by appropriate references. The Programme is delivered in English and evidence of competence in the language may be required of those for whom English is not their first language.

How long is the programme?

The programme is part-time and takes five years to complete and is validated by The Open University.

Programme information


  • To introduce students to the main branches of philosophy, and to some classic texts, together with the major philosophers in the western tradition.
  • To provide students with a critical understanding of the Catholic philosophical tradition.
  • To explore the relationship between the Catholic philosophical tradition, continental philosophical traditions and Anglo-American philosophy.
  • To enable students to engage with diverse philosophical standpoints from the perspective of the Catholic philosophical tradition.
  • To analyse the various philosophical foundations for the study of theology together with the use of philosophical principles in the life and thinking of the Church.
  • To enable students to prepare for further study, especially in the fields of philosophy and theology.


The course is studied over five years with three double modules being taken in year one and six modules in year two. In years three and four students study six modules in each year. In year five students study one further compulsory module, then choose a further elective module from a list of options and then embark upon the writing of a long essay.

Each module is studied following a tutor-assisted, supported, open learning process over a period of between 6 weeks and 12 weeks, depending on module length. Students are expected to study for around 15 hours per week during the Certificate years and for an average of 20 hours a week during the Diploma and BA years.

While the vast majority of study is undertaken at home, students also attend two residential weekends per year and a residential week**. A key element during each of the residential periods, and especially during the residential week, is the seminar study of module-related prepared primary texts.


Modules of study are taken on:

  • Introduction to Philosophy
  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • History of Philosophy
  • Philosophy of the Human Person
  • Logic
  • Ethics
  • Philosophy of God
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Social and Political Philosophy
  • Issues in contemporary Philosophy
  • Cosmology
  • Philosophy, Culture and Evangelisation
  • Philosophy of History
  • Philosophy of the Arts
  • Phenomenology, Gadamer and Newman
  • The Thought of St Thomas Aquinas
  • Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy and contemporary Catholic Theology
  • Plus optional modules in Edmund Husserl or Thomas More and Renaissance Philosophy.


The vast majority of studies is undertaken at home, with support from lecturers where required. Normally, there are two residential weekends at Maryvale each year, as well as a residential week. Under the impact of the Covid pandemic, these events now take place online. However, when this is deemed safe, we are planning to return to some form of residential in the future, as we believe this to be an important component of the course.


There are three elements in the assessment strategy for this programme:

  • Assignments
  • Examinations
  • Primary text reflections


This programme leads to The Open University award of BA (Hons) Philosophy and The Catholic Tradition. Within this programme, students may gain a Higher Education Certificate and Diploma in Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition for two and four years of study, respectively.

Course Fees

The level of course fees payable depends on whether you are a UK/EU or a non-EU student. Please ensure that you refer to the appropriate section on the course fees page.

How do I apply?

While we are unable to enrol new students at the moment, as HE provision is being phased out within the Archdiocese of Birmingham, the institute is currently in discussion with another institution to find a new academic home. In the meantime, we remain open to course enquiries and are happy to take declarations of interest from potential students. If you wish to register your interest, please get in touch with us through the contact button below and the Programme Director will reply to you.


If you have a disability or any long-term condition that impacts on your day-to-day life, please download the Accessibility Form, open and edit it in Acrobat Reader, and email or post the completed document to the Accessibility Coordinator (address included on the form), to ensure we can give you the best possible support during your course of study. Disclosing a disability will not be a factor in Institute’s decision as to whether or not to offer you a place on the course. However, it is important that the Institute knows if you have any specialist needs in order to provide you with appropriate support and facilities. This information will remain strictly confidential. For further information, please contact the Accessibility Coordinator by using the contact button below:

For further information

Please contact us either by making an online enquiry below or by calling 0121 3608118.

Student Feedback:

Reflections from a BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition Study Weekend
Students particularly enjoyed:

  • "Superb subject knowledge, conveyed in a wonderful, enthusiastic style. Give a real understanding of how to approach the subject and the essay."
  • "Input from all years [during the lectures], student–teacher interaction."
  • "Well-structured lectures."
  • "Good student interaction and brainstorming."
  • "Very engaging."
  • "Direction to further resources and reading materials."

BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition Students

Reflections from a BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition Study Weekend
What have you found especially positive about the last study weekend?

  • "The structure of the material covered was very stimulating, particularly as an introduction to this subject."
  • "The discussions and networking with fellow students were delightful and also friendly relationships with staff."
  • "The simple lecture format (without the need to page through coursebooks)."
  • "The variety of presenters and presentations."
  • "Breaking new ground into the study of philosophers who I knew nothing about.."
  • "Lectures by experts in the field."
  • "The introduction to the web resources and the Library."
  • "The peaceful environment."
  • "The friendly staff."
  • "The lecturers put previous reading into context."
  • "Very clearly presented and ideas explained in a way that reassured and engaged."
  • "Practice tips for dealing with coursework."
  • "Opportunity to use the Library."
  • "Quiet study environment."
  • "The peaceful and calm atmostphere and retreat, like I stepped out of normal life."
  • "The lectures were useful and focused on what was needed."

What insights have you gained over the study weekend for your own philosophical development?

  • "The idea of philosophy as an ongoing journey, as opposed to the complete definite answers."
  • "The introduction [served] as a sort of road map, with different elements to be explained."
  • "The necessity to know what it is and means to be human."
  • "That there is no definitive and complete philosophy canonised by the Church."
  • "That there is some valuable knowledge in every philosophy."
  • "The importance of Fides et Ratio as a whole grounding for the course."
  • "Philosophy is an ongoing enterprise - always new ideas - but much of it is conversation with classical ideas, e.g. metaphysics."
  • "Philosophy is itself multi-disciplinary and in dialogue with other disciplines, e.g. psychology and linguistics."

BA (Hons) Philosophy and the Catholic Tradition Students
© Maryvale Institute 2023 - Maryvale Institute is part of the Birmingham Diocesan Trust, Reg'd Charity No. 234216