Welcome to Philosophy, Religion and History of Science

Welcome to the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science. You are joining an exciting and diverse School where students from around the country and the world follow a huge range of degree programmes. You might be joining one of our single honours or interdisciplinary degrees or one of our many joint honours programmes. Many of you will study alongside one another on different modules – so you are going to meet a huge range of people, and we’re sure you will fit right in!

Graeme Gooday, Head of School welcomes you to the School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science induction.

Independent learning

Becoming an independent learner is the main challenge you’ll face in making the transition from the kind of learning you may well have been used to at school, to the kind of learning you’ll be engaged in at university. But don’t worry – we’ll give you plenty of help from the outset and along the way.

Unlike many school pupils, at university you won’t be ‘taught to the test’, you’ll develop skills that will allow you to unearth lots of information and food-for-thought for yourself. And rather than automatically accepting what other people say, you’ll learn to weigh up the pros and cons, and to decide whether or not you’re persuaded by what they say, and why.

You will meet with your personal tutor in Induction week, and they will be your source of support and assistance throughout your degree programme. Your personal tutor will help you reflect on assessment feedback and work out how to improve your performance as an independent learner. We use the Leeds for Life system for personal tutoring.

In your first year you’ll also have classes known as ‘proctorials’ (if you’re studying Philosophy) or student-led discussion classes (if you’re studying TRS), which are discussion sessions where there is no intellectual authority figure present to tell you what to say or to correct you. These classes are designed precisely to help new students get used to thinking for themselves.

Finally, there are a number of additional courses and training workshops offered by the School, by the Faculty of Arts and more widely in the University. For example, the School runs a series of Student Development Workshops which includes sessions on essay writing. The University Library also has a very useful study skills website.

Making the grade

Most of your work over the course of your degree will be assessed by essays and exams, although you will also have the opportunity to take some modules which are also assessed in part by other means, such as presentations. Learning how to write a good university-level essay, and how to perform well in university-level exams, is something that takes time, and is something that we’ll help you with.

The best way to improve your essay- and exam-writing ability is to seek guidance from your module leaders when you’re preparing for the essay or exam in question, and to take on board and reflect on the feedback you’ll be given once you get your marks back. You’re welcome to meet with your module leaders outside of class time to discuss what you’re thinking of writing in an essay or in an exam answer, to double-check your understanding of the material, or to clarify exactly what it is you’re being asked to do in a given assessment. Likewise, your module leaders are readily available to meet with you after the event, to help you understand your feedback. You are also most welcome to discuss feedback with your personal tutor.

Essays and exams are typically marked on a 0-100 scale, with 40 being the pass mark. This isn’t a ‘quantitative’ scale, whereby a mark of 50 might indicate that you’ve got roughly half the things right and half the things wrong. . Rather, it’s a ‘qualitative’ scale, and each point on the scale indicates the quality of the piece of work in question. Marks from 40-49 fall into the ‘third class’ category (roughly, ‘poor’). 50-59 indicates the ‘lower second class’ or ‘2(2)’ category (roughly, ‘ok’). Marks from 60-69 constitute the ‘upper second class’ or ‘2(1)’ category (roughly, ‘good’). And marks of 70 or more represent the ‘first class’ category (roughly, ‘excellent’).


Staff within the School are constantly involved in research projects. Find out more about our research.

As a student at Leeds you will be introduced to a variety of research skills and resources that you will practise throughout your degree programme. During your final year, you will have the opportunity to design and complete your own research project, and this dissertation contributes towards your final degree classification.

Discovery modules

As well as the compulsory and optional modules that make up your programme of study, you can choose something different to your main subject as a discovery module. Find out more about the Discovery Themes on the Broadening pages of the Leeds for Life website.