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Professor Sophie Grace Chappell

Profile summary

Professional biography

Sophie Grace Chappell has been Professor of Philosophy at The Open University since 2006. Before that she was Reader in Philosophy at the University of Dundee (1998-2006), and before that she held posts at Wolfson College, Oxford (1991-1994), Merton College, Oxford (1992-1994), UEA (1994-1996), and Manchester (1996-1998). Her main interests in philosophy are ethics, the philosophy of literature, the philosophy of sex and gender, ancient and mediaeval philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of religion.

She has published over 100 articles. Her books include:

Aristotle and Augustine on Freedom

Understanding Human Goods

The Inescapable Self

Reading Plato's Theaetetus

Ethics and Experience

Knowing What To Do

Songs For Winter Rain

Epiphanies: an Ethics of Experience Epiphanies - Sophie Grace Chappell - Oxford University Press (

Sophie Grace wrote Epiphanies with the support of a Leverhulme Trust Major Research Fellowship, 2017-2020. Some idea of what it is about can be gleaned from here:

Sophie Grace is now pursuing a number of different writing projects, mostly on the ethics of virtue. The biggest thing she is currently engaged with is a new book: Trans Figured: How to survive as a transgender person in a cisgender world. A sneak-peek at some of the things that she hopes to say in this can be found here:

Sophie Grace Chappell was Director of the Scots Philosophical Club 2003-2006, a Governor of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy 2012-2018, and Treasurer of the Mind Association 2000-2021. Since 2021 she has been Executive Editor of The Philosophical Quarterly. She is a member of the REF Sub-Panel for Philosophy 2022.

Sophie Grace Chappell is apparently the first openly transgender philosophy professor in the UK; she transitioned in autumn 2014. She has no objection to having her work from before her transition cited in her previous name.

She likes cycling, skiing, ski-mountaineering, hillwalking, and climbing (but not falling off) [PDF, 66 KB]. She is a member of the Scottish Mountaineering Club, with over 50 FWAs to her name. She has translated some of the works of  Aeschylus, Sophocles, Virgil, Horace, Catullus, and Rilke into English verse, and is engaged in long-term projects to translate the Iliad and the Divina Commedia. She dreams of some day being good enough at the piano to be heard in public. She is married with four children, and is a long-term member of All Souls’ Episcopalian Church, Dundee

Some of her published and in-progress work is available online:

Research interests

Ethics, metaethics, applied ethics, political philosophy, aesthetics especially philosophy of literature, ancient philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of religion especially religious experience and mysticism, mediaeval philosophy.

Some examples of Professor Chappell's published and late-draft work in philosophy are available on her  Publications page.

PhD supervision

In progress:

Lucy Fay Manning, "Logical atomism in the Theaetetus and the Tractatus"

First supervisor; with Naoko Yamagata (Classics)

James Holden, "Moral saints"

First supervisor; with Sean Cordell

James Leigh, "Schopenhauer as educator in the thought of Nietzsche and Wittgenstein"

Second supervisor; with Manuel Dries

Rob Jones, "Asceticism in Nietzsche"

Second supervisor; with Manuel Dries


2016-2020 Chris Grey, "Church-musical aesthetics"

Second supervisor; with Martin Clarke (Music)

2014-2018 Sarah Pawlett Jackson, "Second-person-plurality in ethics" (PhD awarded 2019)

First supervisor; with Manuel Dries (second supervisor)

2012-2016 Jon Phelan, "Truth in narrative fictions" (PhD awarded spring 2017)

Second supervisor; with Derek Matravers (first supervisor)

2010-2015 Paul Jackson, "Epicurean atheism and theism in Lucretius' de Rerum Natura" (PhD awarded spring 2015)

First supervisor; with Naoko Yamagata (Classics)

2006-2013 Raymond Boyce, "Moral perception" (PhD awarded spring 2013)

Second supervisor; with Alex Barber (first supervisor)

2006-2013 Luca Sciortino, "Ian Hacking on styles of thinking" (PhD awarded autumn 2013)

Second supervisor; with Cristina Chimisso (first supervisor)

Teaching interests

There is no area of philosophy that Sophie Grace Chappell is not interested in teaching, though she is probably not the Go-To Person for philosophy of quantum physics.

She is an Open University course author on 

A222 (Philosophy of religion)

A333 (Philosophy of narrative art)

A853 (Plato's Meno)

Impact and engagement

Sophie Grace Chappell gives frequent talks in schools and public philosophy clubs and other such forums, both in Britain and elsewhere: for example at the Barnes Philosophy Club (at least when she doesn't stand them up), at the Pinner Philosophy Group, at Chigwell School, at Wellington College, at How The Light Gets In, and at Harris Academy. She also gives the sermon in her church sometimes, and on one occasion in Magdalen College Chapel, Oxford.

She is always happy to consider invitations for further banging on and sounding off in public. 

External collaborations

Sophie Grace Chappell has held the following Visiting Fellowships or Professorships:

School of Latin and Greek, St Andrews University, September 2001-May 2002
University of British Columbia in Vancouver, January-April 2003
Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, University of Edinburgh, September-December 2005
Centre for Ethics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs, St Andrews University, January-May 2006
University of Oslo, February 2010
University of Reykjavik, August 2011
Flinders University, Adelaide, June 2014

Philosophy, St Andrews, 2017-2020

Erskine Fellowship, Univesity of Canterbury, NZ, February to April 2020


Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
Mind, Meaning and Rationality Research GroupGroupFaculty of Arts