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Welcome to the Philosophical Society's Web Site

The Philosophical Society is a community of enthusiastic amateur philosophers, associated with the Oxford University Department for Continuing Education (OUDCE). It currently has 356 members, a number of them from outside the UK. Although the membership includes academics, professionals, and students from various disciplines, the common bond is likely to be participation in philosophy courses offered at OUDCE. Thanks to online courses, our membership extends worldwide.

The Society is not an academic research organisation; its purpose is to advise and encourage anyone who has an interest in philosophy, and to support students who attend classes in philosophy organised by OUDCE. In order to reinforce excellence in scholarship, we hold student essay competitions at the end of every OUDCE term (see Talbot Award in the sidebar), and one open essay competition per year (see Chadwick Award), with monetary awards. To facilitate debate and discussion, there is a 10% fee discount for members at selected OUDCE weekend philosophy courses, as well as several member-run forums (see Friday Group, Regional Groups, Discussion Forum, Members' Weekend, and Away Day), and once a year, we publish for members-only a journal of members' essays, book reviews, and poems, called The Annual Review. A Society membership is required to view the Archives section, which holds records of past events.

The Society began in 1972, when OUDCE was known as The Oxford University Department for External Studies. Most of what we do is based at Rewley House, Oxford, but we organise some events that take place in other UK places, and sometimes in continental Europe. The running of the Society is in the hands of a committee (elected by members at an online Annual General Meeting) which determines policy and advises the President, who, by the terms of our Constitution, is the OUDCE Director of Studies in Philosophy, currently Dr Stephen Law.

For a personal memoir of how the Society began, written by our founder, see our History pages.

Our Activities page gives a full description of what we do and how we do it. Below is our at-a-glance information update. we engage in.

Activity Updates

Last updated: 15 April 2024.

  • Away Weekend (formerly International Event)
    Booking is now opened. Please see the event's page for details and for a link to the booking form.
  • Talbot Prize, Trinity Term
    The prize winner has been announced. Please see the Talbot Prize page for details..
  • Members' Weekend 2024: 14th - 15th September 2024
    The theme of the weekend will be "What Do We Do When We Do Philosophy?" Please see the organiser's call for papers on the event's page.