MA in Philosophy


MA in Philosophy Overview

The MA in Philosophy provides a combination of taught core and option modules which aim to make you familiar with what is at the centre of contemporary debates. Additionally, in the first term, you will attend dissertation preparation seminars to enable you to write your dissertation proposal. Further support is given during the second and third terms and you will write your dissertation under the guidance of a supervisor. During your third term you and your peers will hold an in-house conference.

This MA will give you up-to-date knowledge of contemporary philosophy across a broad range of subjects and provides essential training for students considering going on to do a PhD.


Components of the course

The MA Seminar

The MA Seminar is designed to provide students with detailed knowledge of the core areas of Philosophy. The Seminar consists of four modules:

  • Topics in Theoretical Philosophy

This module considers some of the key issues relating to theoretical philosophy, especially issues in Metaphysics, Epistemology, Philosophy of Language and Philosophy of Mind.

  • Topics in Practical Philosophy

This module considers topics central to current debates in normative and political theory.

  • 2 Option Modules

The option modules we are planning to offer in 2016/17 include:

  • Contemporary Issues in Bioethics 
  • German Idealism: Moral, Legal and Political Philosophy
  • MA Project Essay*
  • Metaphysics of Mind
  • Philosophy of Emotions
  • Philosophy of Film
  • Pragmatism

Brief descriptions of the modules can be found here:  MA Option Modules, 2016-17 (PDF  , 363kb).

Postgraduate Research Skills Seminar

The Postgraduate Research Skills Seminar is taught over two terms and is designed to provide students with a grounding in the skills necessary to contribute to contemporary philosophical debates.  They attend at least one research seminar or colloquium every two weeks and maintain a reflective journal of their research experiences throughout the Autumn and Spring Terms. Tutorials are held every two weeks during which students discuss their responses to research events as recorded in their journals and provide mentoring and peer support.

Dissertation Preparation

This module will start immediately and continue over the three terms.  It is designed to facilitate applicants for AHRC PhD funding who need to have a thesis proposal worked up by the end of the calendar year.  This will be particularly beneficial to those who will be pursuing a PhD in Philosophy.

*The Project Essay

This module is designed to enable students with specialised interests to pursue independently a topic of their own choosing. Students taking this module propose an independent study topic. The proposal will then be considered by the Board of Studies and, if accepted, the student will be assigned a suitable member of staff who will supervise the project. The Project Essay is compulsory for part-time students but can also be taken by full-time students as one of their two option modules.

Dissemination Practice

This module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to practise disseminating their work, which is a distinctive and challenging feature of Philosophy as a discipline.
Students will organise and present a paper at a one-day ‘conference’, which will be attended by at least two members of staff.

The Dissertation

As an application of the core knowledge, skills and experience gained in the previous stages of the course, the Dissertation enables students to produce a sustained piece of critical writing on a topic of their choosing. A member of staff with expertise in the relevant area will provide supervision.


Course outline


Full-time students
Term 1 Topics in Practical Philosophy

Postgraduate Research Skills



Option module
Term 2 Topics in Theoretical Philosophy
Option module
Term 3 Dissemination Practice 
Summer Vacation Dissertation
Part-time students
Term 1 Topics in Practical Philosophy

Postgraduate Research Skills

Term 2 Topics in Theoretical Philosophy
Term 3 Project Essay  
Term 4 Option module

Dissertation Preparation

Terms 5 Option module
Terms 6  Dissemination Practice 

Summer Vacation
(Months 21-24)



Teaching and learning methods

The course is taught by seminars and individual or small group tutorials, permitting students and staff to systematically explore complex issues at the forefront of Philosophy.

Credit structure

  • Topics in Theoretical Philosophy (20 credits)
  • Topics in Practical Philosophy (20 credits)
  • One Option Module (20 credits)
  • A further Option Module if the Project Essay is not taken (20)
  • Project Essay (optional for full-time students, compulsory module for part-time students) (20 credits)
  • Postgraduate Research Skills Seminar (10 credits)
  • Dissemination Practice (10 credits)
  • Dissertation Preparation (20 credits)
  • Dissertation (60 credits)


Roger Woolhouse Prize

Each year a prize of £500 is awarded to the student on the MA in Philosophy programme who achieves the highest essay mark (>72) in the January MA assessment period. This prize is generously funded by the widow and family of Professor Roger Woolhouse, who taught at York from 1969 until his retirement in 2001.

How to apply


Normally an upper second class honours or equivalent in an undergraduate Philosophy degree is required for admission to the MA in Philosophy.

You can apply for this course using our online application system. If you've not already done so, please read the application guidance first so that you understand the various steps in the application process. You will need to supply the name and contact details of one academic referee, a transcript of marks from your Bachelor degree and one writing sample of around 3,000 words such as an essay you might have written for your Philosophy Bachelor degree. If English is not your first language you may be required to supply a certificate showing proficiency in the English Language. 

Apply now   for the MA in Philosophy.

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