The MA Programmes in Political Philosophy at York


The Department of Politics at the University of York has a long-established international reputation as a centre for postgraduate study in political philosophy. We typically welcome 20+ postgraduate students each year to read for our two interlinked MA programmes in Political Philosophy and Political and Legal Theory: Toleration.

Our postgraduate students come from all over the world, as well as from a variety of institutions in the U.K. The size of our MA programme means that we always have a lively community of graduate students in political philosophy, with events such as the bi-weekly Morrell Political Theory Workshop providing a focus for staff and students working in the area.

We are a distinctively pluralistic department, which means that students on our MA degrees in Political Philosophy and Political and Legal Theory: Toleration have the opportunity to pursue a broad range of interests, from the history of early modern political thought, to contemporary liberal egalitarianism and philosophy of law, international political theory, recent European political thought, and democratic theory.

Each year the Geoffrey Heselton Prize (worth £500) is awarded to the best dissertation written by a student on the programme. Generously funded by the Morrell Trust in memory of one of its most distinguished and dedicated Trustees, the Prize is awarded to the student producing the best dissertation on the MA in Political & Legal Thoery: Toleration.

TO APPLY, CLICK HERE (MA in Political Philosophy)
or HERE (MA in Political and Legal Theory: Toleration)


The structure of our two MA programmes – in Political Philosophy and Political and Legal Theory: Toleration – are similar, with students completing compulsory and optional modules during the Autumn and Spring terms before writing a dissertation on the subject of their choice during the Summer Term and over the Summer Vacation.

On both MA degrees, students are encouraged to write on whatever issue most interests them, and the pluralism of the department means that there are few restrictions on subject matter.

The Geoffrey Heselton Prize (worth £500), funded by the Morrell Trust, is awarded every year to the best dissertation written by a student on our MA programme.

There is a range of optional modules available to students on both degrees. Please see the individual degree programme pages for examples of the modules on offer.

MA in Political Philosophy

MA in Political and Legal Theory: Toleration


Through the generosity of the C & JB Morrell Trust, we have up to ten studentships available for 2013-14 to students reading for the MA in Political and Legal Theory: Toleration. These studentships cover home fees. There is no separate application for Morrell funding: all applicants to the MA in Political and Legal Theory: Toleration who hold an offer by Monday 15 July 2014 will be considered for this funding. (NB. These studentships are only available for this degree, and are not available to those applying to our other MA course in Political Philosophy.)


Professor Matthew Festenstein BA, PhD (Cambridge)
Head of Department
Modern Social and Political Theory; Political Philosophy: Democratic Theory


Professor Matt Matravers BSc (Econ), PhD (LSE)
Director of School of PEP
Contemporary political philosophy; legal and penal theory; the philosophy of punishment; dangerousness


Dr Martin O'Neill MA, BPhil (Oxford), AM, PhD (Harvard)
Convenor, MAs in Political Philosophy
Political philosophy (especially social justice, liberty, equality, responsibility); issues at the intersection of political philosophy and public policy


Dr Tim Stanton BA (Leicester), MA (York), PhD (Leicester)
Director of the Graduate School of Politics
History of political thought; philosophy of John Locke


Dr Monica Brito-Vieira 
History of political thought; contemporary political theory and intellectual history


The skills of reasoning, argument, communication and research that students develop on our MA will stand them in very good stead for their future careers. Our MA programmes can be the ideal springboard to further work in academia, as well as helping to hone skills that are of use in a broad variety of other careers.

Many of those taking our MAs in political philosophy go on to do PhDs, whether at York or elsewhere, and continue to successful academic careers in philosophy and political theory. Many others leave academia after their MA, and go on to successful careers in the civil service, law, business, journalism, charities and NGOs.

Some of our recent (and not so recent!) MA alumni talk about their experiences of the MAs in Political Philosophy at York here.


If you are interested in applying to either the MA in Political Philosophy or the MA in Political Philosophy (The Idea of Toleration), and would like to discuss the programmes further, please contact the Professor Matthew Festenstein (


Professor Matthew Festenstein
Tel: 01904 323573