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Course length

1 year full-time, 2 years part-time


Durham City

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Course details

Our MA in Philosophy provides the freedom to explore influential philosophical traditions in depth within a vibrant learning environment and to understand their relevance when applied, in particular, to contemporary global issues.

The course is taken over one year full-time and two years part-time and offers two core modules with the first, Philosophical Perspectives, introducing you to different philosophical methodologies, critical analysis and a range of definitions of philosophy and the second being an MA dissertation. Optional modules look at subjects as wide ranging as fate and free will, philosophy in science and medicine, cultural heritage, and ethics in the business world.

You will be able to benefit from a wide range of activities in the lively department, such as the weekly reading groups organised by EIDOS, the postgraduate philosophy society, conferences and workshops and also a series of lectures given by the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Further research towards PhD-level study is structured around stimulating research groups which cover areas such as aesthetics, ethics and politics as well as mind, language, metaphysics, science, medicine, the history of philosophy, and the history of women in philosophy.

We offer a friendly academic environment in which you will be given every opportunity to broaden your philosophical knowledge and understanding, including access to the world-leading research and teaching that has given us a reputation for excellence in the subject. As a postgraduate philosophy student you will be fully immersed in an environment in which discussion and debate is actively encouraged.

Course structure

All the MA programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts & Humanities consist of three components:

  • a Major Research Project to the value of at least 60 credits 

  • Core Modules to the value of 0-90 credits, depending on the programme
  • Elective Modules, making up the total number of credits to 180; some of these modules will be defined as Recommended Electives for particular programmes.

For students studying the MA in Philosophy, the Dissertation (your Major Research Project, 60 credits)) is an in-depth, independently produced piece of research of between 12,000 and 15,000 words, on a specialist area of interest in philosophy. You will research and produce the dissertation under the direction of a supervisor who is an expert in the chosen area. If you are considering a future in research, the MA dissertation may provide the basis for a PhD.

You will also be required to take the following 30-credit core module: 

Philosophical Perspectives introduces you to different philosophical methodologies and to contrasting thoughts about what philosophy is. Critical reflection upon the nature of philosophy, through seminar discussions and independent reading, will equip you with the skills to write a Philosophical Perspectives essay.

Finally, you will choose 90 credits of elective modules from across the Faculty of Arts & Humanities, so that your total number of credits adds up to exactly 180.


Taught modules will be delivered principally through group seminars and tutorials, which breaks down as seven two-hour seminars and two one-to-one tutorials. This time will be spent in staff-led discussions, taking part in student presentations and small group discussions.

Learning takes place in a supportive environment that serves to familiarise you with a variety of topics, positions and debates, help you explore the relevant literature, develop your presentational skills and your ability to formulate, criticise and defend philosophical positions.

For your dissertation, you will be 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 when you will have the opportunity to present work and receive feedback from members of staff and from peers.

Assessment, which is thorough and ongoing throughout the course, is carried out via essays and a major dissertation. You will be required to write essays based on topic discussions that take place in the seminar groups and on independent reading.

The 15,000-word dissertation is completed on a topic of particular interest to you and will be written under supervision. 

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. 

English language requirements

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £11,250 per year
EU students £25,750 per year
Island students £11,250 per year
International students £25,750 per year

Part Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £6,200 per year
EU students £14,200 per year
Island students £6,200 per year
International students £14,200 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


An MA in philosophy at Durham University, develops the skills and knowledge needed to carry out research at a higher PhD level or progress to a rewarding professional career position.

A philosophy qualification fosters a creative and innovative approach to challenges and situations that is widely sought after by employers.

Such a degree enhances your intellectual, communication, organisational, interpersonal and research skills, and graduates have found employment in teaching, law, journalism, business and politics, the charity sector and the civil service among other professions.

We maintain fruitful relationships with our alumni and organise annual events where there is the opportunity to meet them, find out about their career paths and learn from their experiences.

Department information


The Department of Philosophy is one of the most prestigious University departments in the UK with inspirational research staff who are experts in their field. We nurture the thoughts and words of postgraduates as they study ancient and modern thinking on philosophical questions such as who we are and how we understand ourselves and our world.

As well as the more traditional philosophical elements such as Ethics and Values, Knowledge and Reality and Moral Theory, we offer learning in other contexts that range from the History and Theory of Medicine, through the Philosophy of Economics and Aesthetics to Gender, Film and Society.

The Department has a postgraduate community that is both diverse and collaborative, and staff are passionate about providing the space literally and figuratively in which to study. We understand the importance of generating new philosophical ideas and how they contribute to the Department’s research culture. A dynamic and influential programme of guest speakers, seminars, workshops and reading groups reflects this belief.

We are also home to the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS) and we have strong links with several interdisciplinary research centres including the Centre for the Ethics of Cultural Heritage and the Centre for the History of Medicine and Disease.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 50 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2023
  • 8th in The Complete University Guide 2024
  • 8th in The Guardian University Guide 2024


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)


The Department of Philosophy is located at Old Elvet in Durham, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

We occupy a listed building in this ancient part of the city, near the medieval Elvet Bridge, and within easy walking distance of the Students’ Union, the colleges and Durham’s historic centre with its Castle and Cathedral.

The Department offers an extensive programme of research-related activities, including weekly lectures and seminars, many of which are given by renowned UK and international philosophers.


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
Find out more
Self-Guided Tours
  • Date: 01/09/2023 - 31/08/2024
  • Time: 09:00 - 16:00
Find out more

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