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Degree: Bachelor of Arts
Application: not required
Course commences: winter semester only
Standard course duration: 6 semesters
Focus options: 75%; 50% (with Teaching Degree option); 25%
Format options: full-time / part-time
Language requirements:

Two foreign languages are mandatory. Requirements vary depending on the focus option, but a combination of modern and classical languages (Latin, Greek) is required in each case.

B.A. 75%: one modern language, one classical language (Latinum, Graecum or equivalent).

B.A. 50%, 25%: one modern language and basic proficiency in Latin or Greek.<\p>

Language of instruction: German (mostly)

Faculty of Philosophy

Note for prospective students interested in coming to Heidelberg University to take the Teaching Degree course qualifying its graduates to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany:

In accordance with the statutory provisions laid down by the State of Baden-Württemberg, students wishing to embark as of winter semester 2015/2016 on a Teaching Degree qualifying them to teach at higher secondary (grammar) schools (Gymnasien) in Germany can only do so by enrolling in two-tier courses with a Bachelor/Master structure (polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor programme with a Teaching Degree option; Master of Education course scheduled to start in winter semester 2018/2019).

As of winter semester 2015/2016, the subject described on this page can be studied in a polyvalent two-subject (50%) Bachelor course with a Teaching Degree option. It has to be combined with another 50% subject of relevance for secondary-school education.

For more information, go to

Note for students already enrolled in a Teaching Degree course in the framework of the Examination Regulations for Teachers at Higher Secondary Schools (GymPO I):

In the winter semester 2015/2016 and later, students enrolled by 31 July 2015 in a Teaching Degree course regulated by the provisions of GymPO I (2009) are entitled to switch to a different main subject under the conditions set out in said GymPO provided that the change is in accordance with the statutory provisions.

In this case, the following transitional regulations apply:

For more information, go to

Course outline

“Philosophising” is sometimes equated with abstract or theoretical discussion of the “big issues”. In this course, you may occasionally find yourself arguing about things that one might legitimately term “big issues”, but in general it is not so much a matter of scaling the Olympian heights as (initially at least) acquiring little by little the intellectual equipment enabling you to address the “big issues” properly and accurately. This equipment consists largely of (a) schooling in the art of rational argument and (b) guided reading of important philosophical texts.

Philosophical issues tend to be universal in character. They serve to reflect on potential modes of access to very different phenomena. In this sense, the canon of philosophical disciplines is open and historically flexible.

Philosophy engages with this situation in all its guises. Yet in the age of the great systems of idealist philosophy, thinkers came up with definitions of philosophy and its subsectors that have retained their impact to this day. Kant summarised the concerns of philosophy in the form of the following questions: “What can I know?” “What should I do?” “What can I hope for?” and on a superordinate level: “What is Man?”

Engagement with these questions underlies the age-old division of philosophy into logic, ethics and metaphysics. But whereas this view (and others proposing alternative categorisations rather than a radical reorientation) are concerned with approaches to specific kinds of subject matter, modern philosophy attaches very great significance to methodological issues.

In philosophy, the differences between the corps à corps with classical texts from the history of philosophy and engagement with systematic issues (say in epistemology, ethics or aesthetics) are frequently anything but clear-cut. The fact that a text was written 2,000 years ago says little about the relevance of what we get out of it when we read it today. This is what makes it so essential to use one’s studies to acquire the ability to read important philosophical texts from the past intelligently.

Philosophy at university

Anyone studying philosophy will soon realise what a wide-ranging subject it is. At the end of the course you will probably be familiar by name with the different disciplines, but it would be foolish to expect to know them all from the inside. The discussions taking place within those disciplines are too specialised for that. It seems likely that you will find one or other of the approaches particularly interesting and specialise in that. Those in search of specialisation are perhaps best advised to follow up the B.A. programme with the M.A. course.

Any rough division of philosophy will proceed from the distinction between theoretical philosophy and practical philosophy. The former inquires into potentialities and limitations of knowledge, the structure of consciousness, the relation between mind and matter or the famous question of why there should be anything at all and not just nothing. Practical philosophy engages with human action in the broadest sense of the term, asking what actions are, what role intentions play, what one is entitled to do, what one should do, what is just.

Naturally, a meaningful dovetailing of systematic and historical aspects cannot be expected at the beginning of the course. Here it is more important to acquire elementary skill in text interpretation and analysis and to read the classical texts for an overview of the various epochs of philosophical history and the schools of thought operative at the respective times. At a later stage, it will then make sense to immerse oneself in options selected from among the various sub-disciplines of philosophy.

At the heart of the course are the lectures and seminars. In their lectures, professors and senior lecturers present their own research endeavours, provide an overview of the history of philosophy or give detailed accounts of ongoing scholarly debates. Here the students are listeners. The forum for active participation is provided by the seminars, many of them devoting an entire semester to one text or topic. They provide the scope for stimulating discussion, painstaking and meticulous analysis and sometimes heated disputes. Most of a philosophy student’s time will probably be dedicated to preparation for the seminars in the form of close reading of texts, comprehension and reconstruction of arguments, verification of those arguments and where necessary criticism of them. Those who find the prospect of detailed reading unattractive or have a tendency to avoid “thinking things through to the end” may (initially) find the course rather hard going.

Course structure

Course structure depends on the focus option selected (75%, 50%, 25%) and is set out in the Heidelberg University Examination Regulations for the Bachelor Course in Philosophy.

For more information, consult the Study Guide for Bachelor Programmes.

Examination Regulations and other information on admission and course requirements can be found on the website of the academic advisors of the Department of Philosophy.

Main research interests

The focus of research attention at Heidelberg University’s Department of Philosophy is on the philosophy of mind from an historical and systematic perspective. This encompasses analytic philosophy and hermeneutics, philosophy of science and the humanities, ancient philosophy, German idealism, and 20th century philosophy. Alongside this focus there are a wide range of classes on almost all periods of philosophical history and contemporary philosophy.

Formal requirements



Admission to the course is not restricted. Click here for information on enrolment.

Students intending to teach at higher German secondary schools will need to apply for admission to the B.A. 50% course. The polyvalent B.A. degree is the prerequisite for the Master of Education programme.


International applicants


There are special regulations for international applicants. For more information, apply to the International Relations Office of Heidelberg University (Seminarstraße 2).

Subject combinations

Possible subject combinations are listed in the Catalogue of Subjects.

Study and examination regulations


Examination regulations (14 June 2010)
Examination regulations (25 June 2015)

Examination regulations (28 September 2016)

Teaching degree (State Examination)

Regulations on Intermediate Examinations (29 April 2010)
Regulations on Intermediate Examinations (2 June 1982)
Academic Examination Regulations (WPO 2001)
Examination regulations for prospective teachers at higher secondary schools in Germany I (GymPO 2009)

Module Handbook

Please click here to find the latest Module Handbook.

Examinations board

Issues arising in connection with examinations, credit transfer and academic credential recognition are dealt with by the relevant examinations board/office. For more information, consult the academic advisor(s) indicated below.


Tuition fees at Heidelberg University are payable at the beginning of each semester.

M.A. course

Heidelberg University offers a consecutive M.A. course in Philosophy.

Contact: Academic advisors and student representation


For more information on study guidance and examination regulations and the current office hours click here.


Student representation:

Department of Philosophy
Schulgasse 6, Office 116

E-Mail: Seitenbearbeiter
Letzte Änderung: 2019-03-14
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