Pathways to Philosophy
Kew fern


This page
Tutorial support | Quality assurance and guarantee | Entry requirements | Philosophy in schools | Pathways e-journals | ISFP membership | Pathways CD-ROM | Testimonials | Feedback

Other pages
Pathways to Philosophy | Associate and Fellowship | Diploma and BA Degree in Philosophy | Pathways at a glance | Pathways mentors | Self-directed study | Links page | Philosophy meetups | Application and fees

—Welcome to Pathways, the international distance learning school!

Launched in August 1997, the Pathways web site is the leading internet distance learning site for philosophy courses online. To date, the Pathways distance learning programs have attracted students from over 70 countries.

The team of Pathways mentors is led by Dr Geoffrey Klempner, Director of Studies of the International Society for Philosophers. The first Pathways students joined in October 1995. We are dedicated to the principles of open learning and philosophy for all irrespective of nationality, race or creed.

Pathways is based around range of six core philosophy programs. The programs are designed to be intellectually challenging while remaining accessible to students who have no prior knowledge of philosophy. Our aim is to illuminate and provoke, to challenge preconceived ideas, and make you see things differently.

Each Pathways program is written as an original contribution to philosophy, aimed at capturing the interest of students of all ranges of ability from absolute beginners to graduates. At whatever level you are able to engage with the study materials, you will find a lively and sympathetic response from your Pathways mentor.

Students can also take Associate and Fellowship awards offered by the International Society for Philosophers, or study with the University of London External Programme leading to the Diploma and BA (Hons) Degree in Philosophy with tutorial support from Pathways.

The Pathways programs are superb value for money. For details of fees and application procedures, see the Fees page.

For a quick overview and comparison of all the Pathways online courses see Pathways to Philosophy at a glance.


Tutorial support

When you start a program you will be assigned a Pathways mentor who will remain with you for the duration of the course. Your mentor will comment in detail on each piece of work that you produce. The response time for assignments sent in currently averages between a week and ten days. Your mentor will also be on hand to discuss any questions or problems relating to your studies.

The idea of a philosophical mentor is as old as philosophy itself. The Greek philosopher Socrates showed how learning could be an active process of questioning and dialogue, rather than a passive process of absorbing information. However, there is a difference between the rough and tumble of a group discussion and the special relationship between student and mentor. One-on-one dialogue makes a different kind of learning possible.

The emphasis on student-mentor dialogue represents the core of the Pathways approach to distance learning. Your mentor is not there to grade you or assess you but to guide you through the process of learning to be your own philosophical critic.

In 2011 a new service was set up at which is free to all current Pathways students. The aim of the service is to 'find your ideal study partner'. This is a great opportunity for one-to-one dialogue with someone in a similar situation to yourself, in addition to your interaction with your Pathways mentor.



Quality assurance and guarantee

From its launch in 1995, Pathways has been intended for people who want to study philosophy simply for the love of it, to enrich their lives and broaden their horizons, not to gain extra qualifications or titles.

However, we recognize that there are are significant number of students who want to do a university philosophy degree or diploma. That is why we have introduced tutorial support for the University of London Diploma and BA for external students. London University is one of the top-rated universities in the United Kingdom for Philosophy, as well as being internationally recognized for the quality of its philosophical teaching and research.

Meanwhile, we have been implementing our own stringent system of internal quality control. Course materials, methods of course delivery, tutor feedback and student outcomes for the Pathways programs, as well as for the Associate and Fellowship awards are subject to continuous monitoring. We can say with confidence that you will receive the very best quality support tuition, whichever option you choose.

If you are not sure whether studying philosophy with Pathways is for you, there is no need to worry. All Pathways students are covered by a 28-day guarantee. If for any reason you are not happy with the tuition or service provided by Pathways your tuition fee will be refunded in full.



Entry requirements

There are no formal entry requirements for the Pathways or Associate programs, other than an interest in learning about philosophy in the Western tradition. Students enrolling for the Associate program are invited — though not required — to send a short piece of writing with their application, such as an essay or review of a philosophical book they have liked.

Students applying for the Fellowship program who are not taking the Pathways or Associate route should provide verifiable evidence of previous philosophical study.

Detailed entry requirements for the Diploma and BA Degree in Philosophy via the University of London External Programme can be found in the Prospectus for the External Programme.

Distance is no barrier. While students continue to join from all over the UK, an increasing number now come from overseas. To date, we have enrolled students from Angola, Argentina, Aruba, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Bermuda, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Egypt, Eire, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Haiti, Hong Kong, Iceland, India, Israel, Ivory Coast, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macau, Malaysia, Maldives, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, St Kitts, Sudan, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, UK, USA, Uruguay, Vietnam and Venezuela!



Philosophy in schools

An e-book consisting of fifteen science fiction stories with philosophical introductions taken from The Possible World Machine is available for use in the classroom as a teaching aid. The e-book is free to download from the Pathways download page. If you find the text useful, we would like to hear from you!

Pathways programs have been successfully used as a basis for courses offered to school students at Haileybury College, Hertford UK and Catherine McAuley High, Sydney Australia. Currently, two A4 size printed texts are available, Pathways Schools: Introduction to Philosophy which contains units selected from four Pathways programs, and Pathways Schools: Philosophical Dialogues which supplements the material from the Possible World Machine e-book (see above). For the lists of contents, see the ISFP order form.

Teachers will receive full support from the International Society for Philosophers. Students will be able to take a written test at the end of their course, and receive certificates validated by the ISFP.

School teachers also make up a significant number of individual students taking the Pathways and Associate programs. These courses are particularly useful if you are seeking develop your understanding and knowledge of philosophy in order to teach Philosophy A-Level, or Theory of Knowledge and Philosophy papers taken for the International Baccalaureate.



Pathways e-journals

When you apply you will be invited to subscribe to the two Pathways e-journals Philosophy Pathways, launched 2001 and Philosophy for Business, launched 2003.

The Pathways e-journals are distributed via the email list server of the University of Sheffield to many hundreds of subscribers world wide. Archived issues can be found by clicking the above links.

To subscribe to Philosophy Pathways email:

To subscribe to Philosophy for Business email:



Membership of the ISFP

Students are eligible to receive free life membership of the International Society for Philosophers, with the additional option of a listing on the ISFP open members page. Pathways students and members of the ISFP are also invited to participate in the Pathways online conference.

Previous Pathways conferences: Use and Value of Philosophy
Theories of Existence
Philosophy: the learning curve
Philosophy: a way of life



Pathways CD-ROM

Pathways CD-ROM

All new students can request a free copy of the Pathways CD-ROM containing the latest snapshot of the 3500+ Pathways pages on the web.

Pathways students also receive Anthony Harrison-Barbet's 900 page e-text Philosophical Connections with profiles of 126 Western philosophers, charting the development of ideas and theories in 2500 years of philosophical debate.



What professors say about Pathways

Peter Carruthers

Peter Carruthers
Professor of Philosophy and Chair
Dept of Philosophy
University of Maryland
Former Head of Philosophy Dept, Sheffield

"The Pathways materials are excellent, and the whole idea is a very good one, for which there is an obvious need. I believe Pathways will provide a route into degree-level work in philosophy which is both rigorous and exciting. Dr Klempner taught in the Philosophy Dept at Sheffield University at a variety of levels for many years and student feedback was always very positive. He has a real talent for communicating — whether it be information, enthusiasm, or core reasoning skills. I am confident that students following one of Dr Klempner's Pathways will receive an excellent, carefully structured, grounding in philosophy."

Samuel Guttenplan

Samuel Guttenplan
Course Director
University of London External Programme
BA Philosophy and Diploma in Philosophy
Professor, Birkbeck School of Philosophy

"I have been meaning to write to you about your Pathways in Philosophy programme and its involvement with the London External BA and Diploma courses. It was apparent to examiners (and to me as Chair of the Board of Examiners) that the level of performance reached by a number of students was particularly high. Loath to admit that students studying on their own could match or exceed those studying at Birkbeck (in the internal BA), I believe I am right in attributing a good part of the success of these students to your programme. For that, and for your general support of the programme, I congratulate you. I do hope the whole of the Pathways programme is going well and will continue to thrive."

[See What students say about Pathways]




If you have any comments or further questions about any of the materials reproduced here, please use the Feedback form. Or you can write to:

Dr Geoffrey Klempner
Director of Studies
International Society for Philosophers
907 Chesterfield Road
Sheffield S8 0SS
United Kingdom



Pathways to Philosophy

Letters to students
How-to-do-it guide
Essay archive
Ask a philosopher
Launch page

  Pathways teaching materials © G. Klempner 1995–2014
  'Kew Gardens Fern' photograph © G. Klempner 2001

University of Sheffield

Pathways e-journals Philosophy Pathways and Philosophy for Business are distributed by the University of Sheffield List Server and listed in the Directory of Open Access Journals.

Directory of Open Access Journals

Since 2003 Pathways has provided tuition for the Diploma and BA in Philosophy offered by the University of London International Programme based at Birkbeck College.

Birkbeck College London Department of Philosophy University of London International Programme for Philosophy