Aaran Burns - BA (Hons) Philosophy with Psychology (2014)
The time I spent studying Undergraduate Philosophy at Keele is invaluable. Philosophy itself is one of the most varied and interesting subjects I could have hoped to study. Perhaps the best thing about Philosophy is its variety. It would not be unusual to be asking the question ‘what is beauty?’ in a morning seminar, having a lecture on arguments for the existence of God in the afternoon and then discussing whether or not time is real the next day. There really is a huge variety within Philosophy and during just three years I have been lucky enough to cover metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, aesthetics, logic, philosophy of religion, philosophy of mind and political philosophy, all of which I’ve found thoroughly interesting from start to finish.
The Keele Philosophy department itself is brilliant. As might be obvious from some of the topics I have just listed, Philosophy can be tough and confusing, but the lecturers have a talent for explaining difficult issues in intuitive ways that really get through and stick with you. As far as lectures are concerned, I’m not sure ‘lecture’ is the right word to describe what happens in the department. The staff don’t give the dreary monotone readings of incredibly complex power point presentations that come to mind when we use the word ‘lecture’. Rather, the staff at Keele’s Philosophy department teach lessons. They provide useful hand-outs and summaries of material for each session, use white board drawings and diagrams to illustrate difficult issues (Dr James Tartaglia has a particular knack for this one!), give students opportunities to ask questions and offer their own criticisms of the ideas presented, they slow down when students are struggling and speed up when students are finding things too easy, and often add personal touches to lectures which make them more engaging. If the lectures aren’t enough though, you can usually find lecturers knocking around or send them an email and drop by their office. In first year, I was fairly shy about bothering lecturers outside of lecture time for extra help, but I quickly realized that all of the staff were keen to help out and always patient with my (many, many) questions.
What I found best about Philosophy was that it raised possibilities that I had never even thought about and forced me to seriously consider whether they are true. It’s an eye opener. Whether its figuring out how we should live with Dr Baiasu or looking at some of the greatest world views ever proposed with Dr D’Oro or questioning the very idea of ‘getting the right world view’ or ‘the truth’ with Dr Tartaglia, Philosophy is sure to open your mind and sharpen it as well. The Philosophy department at Keele are brilliant at helping students achieve both of these goals through the world’s oldest discipline. The subject is great and ran by an equally great department at Keele.