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Degree type


Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

Program code


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Course details

This one-year course (two years part-time) provides an ideal academic environment for those who would like to study the subject at a higher level in preparation for a PhD or as a basis for future employment. Significant numbers of former students go on to further study.

The course includes research training and allows you to write a substantial dissertation on a topic you wish to pursue at PhD level. Our staff members have expertise in a very wide range of areas, so there is considerable flexibility over choice of dissertation topic. Modules are taught via group seminars and one-to-one tutorials.

Course structure

Candidates shall study and be assessed in the following modules:

List A:

  • Dissertation
  • Philosophical Perspectives

Candidates shall also study and be assessed in modules to the value of 90 credits from Lists B, C and D. The module titles below are those offered in previous academic years. Not all the modules will necessarily be available every year.

List B:

  • Ancient Philosophers on Necessity, Fate and Free Will
  • Forms After Plato
  • Science and The Enlightenment
  • Philosophical Issues in Science and Medicine
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Current Issues in Metaphysics
  • Current Issues in Ethics
  • Gender Theory and Feminist Philosophy
  • Phenomenology and The Sciences of Mind
  • Current Issues in Aesthetics and Theory of Art
  • Ethics, Medicine and History
  • Mind and Action
  • Philosophy of The Social Sciences
  • Ethics of Cultural Heritage
  • Environmental Philosophy
  • Research Ethics
  • Special Topic in Philosophy

List C:

Candidates taking modules from List C must take both modules:

  • Business Ethics 1: Ethical Leadership
  • Business Ethics 2: Society and Sustainability

List D:

Candidates taking modules from List D must take both modules:

  • Moral and Corporate Trust: Trust and Accountability
  • Moral and Corporate Trust: Trust and Business Ethics


The Taught MA in Philosophy provides the opportunity for in-depth engagement with areas of philosophy in which the Durham department has internationally recognised expertise. In the process, you will develop critical abilities and independent research skills that prepare you for further postgraduate study in Philosophy and for a wide range of careers where such skills are highly prized.

You can choose three optional ‘topic’ modules from a list of approximately 17. You are also required to take the ‘Philosophical Perspectives’ module and to complete a double-module dissertation. Topic modules are usually taught via seven two-hour seminars and two one-to-one tutorials. Seminars incorporate staff-led discussion of topics, student presentations and small group discussions, in the context of a friendly, supportive environment. Seminars serve to (i) familiarise you with topics, positions and debates, (ii) help you to navigate the relevant literature, (iii) refine your oral and written presentation skills and (iv) further develop your ability to independently formulate, criticise and defend philosophical positions. You are expected to do approximately four hours of reading for each seminar. You will also decide upon an essay topic, having received guidance from the module leader. At this point, you begin a more focused programme of reading and independent study, and also benefit from one-to-one supervisions with an expert in the relevant field. These supervisions provide more focused teaching, tailored to your chosen essay topic. Supervisions further enable you to develop and refine your own philosophical positions, convey them clearly and support them with well constructed arguments.

The core modules of the course are the ‘Philosophical Perspectives’ module and the double-module Dissertation. The former consists of seminars of 2 hours duration. These introduce you to different philosophical methodologies and to contrasting conceptions of what philosophy is. Critical reflection upon the nature of philosophy, cultured through seminar discussions and subsequent reading, equips them with the ‘meta-philosophical’ skills required to write a ‘Philosophical Perspectives’ essay. Other seminars include training in library use, referencing, writing abstracts, structuring an MA-level essay and other research-related matters. They also include focused advice and discussion concerning dissertation proposals, which you are required to submit as part of this module.

Having completed the three topic modules and the ‘Philosophical Perspectives’ module, you will start work on your Dissertation. You are offered six one-to-one tutorials of up to an hour each, with a supervisor who will be an expert in your chosen field. There is also a Dissertation Workshop during the summer, where you can present work from your Dissertation and receive feedback from members of staff and from peers. The supervisions and the workshop both help to further refine skills acquired during the academic year (such as presenting and defending an argument in a clear, structured fashion) and to complete a substantial piece of high quality independent research. Through the workshop, you will also engage with the work of other students in ways that are mutually informative.

In addition to this core teaching, you will benefit from a range of activities, including a student-led ‘work-in-progress group’ and regular meetings of EIDOS, the department’s postgraduate philosophy society. You are welcomed as full participants in the department’s research culture, and are thus strongly encouraged to attend a range of other events, including weekly Research Seminars, and occasional Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures, conferences, workshops and reading groups. The Programme Directors remains in regular contact with you throughout the year and are always available to discuss any issues that might arise (personal or academic).

Entry requirements

A typical 2:1 classification or higher at undergraduate level or equivalent qualification with a substantial philosophy component.

Admission Criteria for Research Focus on Science, Medicine and Society:

  • A 2:1 classification or higher at undergraduate level or equivalent qualification with a substantial philosophy component or other appropriate component, for example science-related subjects.
  • At least one example of written work on a philosophical theme (up to 5,000 words).

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £10,600 per year
EU students £24,250 per year
Island students £10,600 per year
International students £24,250 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £5,900 per year
EU students £13,400 per year
Island students £5,900 per year
International students £13,400 per year

The tuition fees shown are for one complete academic year of study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities


A philosophy degree trains one to think clearly and rigorously, and also fosters a capacity for the kind of ‘blue-sky thinking’ that employers cherish. Our graduates enter a wide range of career areas including teaching, law, journalism, business and politics.

Department information


We have expertise in an exceptionally broad range of areas, including metaphysics, aesthetics, ethics, feminism, phenomenology, philosophy of mind and the history and philosophy of science and medicine.

All of the Department’s research staff are leading experts in their field. Not only are our staff well-placed to convey the cutting-edge work in their area of philosophy, but they are also high-quality teachers. We provide expert guidance and are available for one-to-one discussions. Our aim is to inspire our students to question everything, but also to foster a broad range of transferable skills, such as the ability to read and think analytically, to understand complex concepts, and to construct rational arguments.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2023 and in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2023
  • 9th in The Guardian University Guide 2023


For a current list of staff, please see the Philosophy Department pages.

Research Excellence Framework

  • Top 20 for the quality of our research (REF 2021)


Durham Philosophy department is amongst the most prestigious departments in the UK, and we pride ourselves on our excellence in research and teaching.

The Durham Philosophy community is a lively, friendly group of people including undergraduates, postgraduates and staff, committed to the pursuit of philosophical knowledge and understanding. We are an open and friendly department, which accommodates work in both ‘analytic’ and ‘Continental’ Western philosophical traditions


Find out more:

Apply for a postgraduate course (including PGCE International) via our online portal.  

Visit Us

The best way to find out what Durham is really like is to come and see for yourself!

Join a Postgraduate Open Day
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 17:00
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Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
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