Our MA in Philosophy is designed for those who wish to broaden their study of philosophy and make a gradual transition to research.
Philosophy is the study of fundamental questions connected to reality, existence, normativity, the mind, language, thought and our place in the world. Our MA programme allows you to study the many facets of philosophy at an advanced level, with tuition by world leading philosophers. You will learn how to develop your own ideas and your problem-solving skills, and how to be an independent, critical thinker. You will be able to engage with a number of themes that reflect the research specialisms of the Department of Philosophy, such as ethics, metaethics, metaphysics, causation, epistemology, political philosophy, philosophy of emotions and continental philosophy.
The programme consists of four modules (two per term): Knowledge and Reality; Norms and Values; Reason; and Analytic and Continental Philosophy; plus the dissertation. There is one essay assignment per each module. The dissertation is 8,000-10,000 words and takes place over the summer with supervision from an expert within the department.
The Department hosts graduate student seminars which are organised by students with a member of staff in observation. The aim of these is to improve students’ speaking and presentation skills. We also have regular research seminars, half of which are hosted by distinguished philosophers from the UK or further afield and which are supported by the Royal Institute of Philosophy. Other events that may be of interest include the annual Philosophy Reading Weekend and student-led reading groups.
This programme is ideal for graduates of philosophy or related disciplines who wish to widen their knowledge of topics, gain more training in philosophical methodology, and/or narrow down their interests of specialisation in preparation for a PhD.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding in:
(Several specific areas of the discipline based on a critical study of the relevant literature)
- the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, encountered in their own writings, from the ancient Greek philosophers to the present day
- central theories and arguments in the fields of logic, metaphysics, epistemology, and philosophy of mind, including such topics as existence, truth, certainty , meaning, causality, free will, and the relation of mind and body
- central theories and arguments in the fields of moral, political and social philosophy, including such topics as the nature of judgements about right and wrong, human rights, duties and obligations, the relation between the individual and society, freedom, and justice
- the relevance of philosophical ideas to other disciplines and areas of enquiry such as literature, the arts, religion, law, politics, and social studies
- the applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry in philosophy, as well as the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement the final project (dissertation) and to adjust it in the light of unforeseen problems.
You develop intellectual skills in
- listening attentively to complex presentations; using powers of analysis and imagination
- reading carefully a variety of technical and non-technical material
- using libraries effectively
- reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources
- marshalling a complex body of information
- remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- constructing cogent arguments in the evaluation of this material
- formulating independent ideas and defending them with cogent arguments.
You gain subject-specific skills in:
- the ability to conduct arguments about matters of the highest moment without recourse to insult or susceptibility to take offence
- the willingness to evaluate opposing arguments, to formulate and consider the best arguments for different views and to identify the weakest elements of the most persuasive view
- honesty in recognising the force of the conclusions warranted by a careful assessment of pertinent arguments
- articulacy in identifying underlying issues in all kinds of debate
- precision of thought and expression in the analysis and the formulation of complex and controversial problems
- sensitivity in interpretation of texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions
- clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts
- the ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology
- the ability to abstract, analyse and construct sound arguments and to identify logical fallacies
- the ability to recognise methodological errors, rhetorical devices, unexamined conventional wisdom, unnoticed assumptions, vagueness and superficiality
- the ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations
- the ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically pre-suppositions and methods within the discipline itself.
You gain the following transferable skills:
- working with others: participating in seminar discussions, responding to the views of others and to criticisms of your own views without giving or taking offence, engaging in independent group work, including the running of the graduate seminar
- using information technology: using online information sources, word processing essays, using email for receiving and responding to communications
- communication: producing focused and cogent written presentations summarising information and assessing arguments, giving oral presentations, using visual aids where appropriate
- problem-solving: identifying problems, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions, defending your own solutions with cogent arguments
- improving your learning: identifying your strengths and weaknesses, assessing the quality of your own work, managing your time and meeting deadlines, learning to work independently.
The programme aims to:
- provide you with the knowledge and skills to prepare you for academic philosophical study at MPhil/PhD level
- attract outstanding students, irrespective of race, background, gender, or physical disability from within the UK
- further the University’s International Strategy by attracting students, as above, from abroad as well
- enable you to deepen your knowledge of work in the key areas of theoretical and practical philosophy
- enable you to begin to specialise in your areas of interest
- provide you, consistent with point one above, with a transition from undergraduate study to independent research in philosophy
- provide you with a training that will culminate, if followed through to PhD level, in the ability to submit articles to refereed journals in academic philosophy.