Computer Science and Philosophy

Could a machine think? If so, what is the difference between a machine which can think and one which can't?  How could we tell whether (and what) a machine is thinking?  What are the ethical implications of new developments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, or of the erosion of digital and online privacy?  Computer Science and Philosophy (CSP) is an exciting degree programme in Oxford: Christ Church has a very strong commitment to it, with two places per year reserved specifically for CSP, as well another two places per year for the Computer Science and two places for the joint Mathematics and Computer Science degrees.  We have a Tutor in Computer Science, Professor Yarin Gal, and two Philosophy Tutors, Professor Lindsay Judson and Professor Joseph Schear; other members of the Philosophy teaching team include Dr Bob Frazier and other members of the Computer Science teaching team include Dr Irwin Zaid.  Christ Church also has a wider community of senior members with research interests in this area, including Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, Professor Gina Neff, a Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute, and Dr Carissa de Veliz, a Postdoctoral Fellow who works on practical ethics including internet ethics and privacy.

Computer Science and Philosophy have many links and areas of common interest, such as logic, language, rationality, thought and cognition, and artificial intelligence.  Studying these philosophically will deepen and enrich your understanding of issues in Computer Science, as well as developing your analytical and logical skills.  The study of Computer Science will in turn give you a clearer grasp of what philosophers need to think about in this challenging and fast-changing area.

Computer Science and Philosophy can be studied for either three years, leading to a BA, or for four years, leading to a Masters degree (MCompPhil). Students choose in their third year whether to stay on for the fourth year.  The first year covers core material in both subjects, including a bridging course on Alan Turing's work on computability and artificial intelligence. Later years include a wide range of options, including both courses which are directly relevant to both subjects and courses in other areas.  The optional fourth year allows the study of advanced topics and an in-depth research project.

Entry conditions for Computer Science and Philosophy:

A*AA with the A* or equivalent in Mathematics, Further Mathematics, or Computing/Computer Science

Essential: Mathematics

Recommended: Further Mathematics

Test: MAT

No written work required