MA Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course description

Philosophy at Manchester offers an intellectually stimulating and supportive postgraduate environment. You will be taught and supervised by members of staff who are all actively involved in research.   

The MA Philosophy course combines:

  • in-depth study of specialised areas of analytical philosophy; 
  • extensive research training to provide the skills necessary to complete a master's dissertation and; 
  • a dissertation supervised by a member of staff with expertise in the area you wish to study in more depth.  

The course is ideal if you want to do a PhD in Philosophy or want to improve your employability through the development of rigorous critical, analytical and research skills.   

It provides a deeper knowledge of a wide variety of areas of philosophy than is possible at undergraduate level, and equips you with the ability to plan, organise and work autonomously on a substantial individual project. This project will take the form of either a dissertation (9,000 to 12,000 words), or a longer dissertation of up to 20,000 words.  

We also: 

  • host a wide variety of conferences at which you can hear cutting-edge philosophical arguments from leaders in the field, ranging from small workshops to large international conferences;  
  • offer bursaries for conference trips;  
  • deliver outstanding student support, The University of Manchester library is one of only five National Research Libraries, and one of the best-resourced in the UK.   

Papers, monographs and edited collections by our academic staff are regularly published in international journals and by prominent academic publishers.   

We also host two regular research seminars, one organised by staff and another by postgraduates (with both groups participating in both) with papers presented by visiting speakers, staff and postgraduate students.

Aims

  • To develop a strong background in analytical philosophy with exemplary research.
  • Gain analytical skills of a standard to pursue doctoral study.
  • To help you pursue careers in areas that require skills in argumentation, analysis and research.
  • Discover a deeper understanding in a variety of areas of philosophy.
  • Learn through personalised teaching delivery, with small-group research seminar style classes.
  • Individual development of research skills.

Special features

In addition to weekly research seminars, Philosophy at Manchester hosts a large number of international conferences, such as:

  • The Philosophy of Events and Processes.
  • Politics, the Law and Ontology.Faith, Hope and Trust.
  • David Lewis and his place in the History of Analytic Philosophy. 

We are also home to a number of funded research projects , including:

  • The Age of Metaphysical Revolution:
  • David Lewis and his Place in 20th Century Philosophy.Knowledge of Emotion:
  • Expression and Social Cognition.The Architecture of Consciousness.

Teaching and learning

All our master's course units are taught through small-group seminars. The seminars usually involve some general context-setting and guidance from the course convenor, but are often largely focussed on student-led discussion of set texts that you will have studied in preparation for the discussion.

This fosters a proactive and collaborative approach to engaging with the topic and to developing your own views and arguments. All units apart from Research Skills run for one semester.

The Research Skills unit runs through both semesters, the purpose is:

  • to develop your research, writing and presentation skills;
  • to guide you through the planning of your dissertation, from selecting a topic and a supervisor to identifying and reviewing key literature; 
  • to think about what makes for the best philosophical writing.

You are allocated an appropriate supervisor for your dissertations; in practice, you can almost always choose your own dissertation supervisor. You will work throughout the academic year on your dissertation in consultation with your supervisor - focusing on the assessed elements of the Research Skills unit during the teaching year, and then, over the summer (and into the autumn for part-time students), on writing.

Part-time students complete the full-time course over two years. There are no evening or weekend course units available on the part-time course.

You must first check the schedule of the units to ensure that you are able to attend the seminars for the units you enrol on.

Updated timetable information will be available from mid-August and you will have the opportunity to discuss your unit choices during induction week with your Course Director.

Coursework and assessment

All course units apart from Research Skills are assessed through one 4000-word essay, submitted towards the end of the semester. Students are encouraged to discuss their plans for their essay with the course convenor in some detail outside of class time.

Research Skills is assessed through a combination of a 20-minute presentation, a 1500-word research proposal and bibliography (submitted in early January to aid application for PhD scholarships, which often have deadlines in early spring), and a 3000-word critical literature review.

The 90 credit dissertation is between 17,500 and 20,000 words, while the 60 credit dissertation is between 9,000 and 12,000 words.

By the end of the second semester, you will have already conducted the majority of the research for the dissertation and formulated a clear overall plan as part of the Research Skills unit, so that the summer can be devoted to writing.

Course unit details

Full-time students take Research Skills (30 credits, two semesters) plus either four or six (depending on dissertation length) additional course units (15 credits each, two/three per semester), plus the dissertation (60/90 credits).  

Part-time students take three (four if doing a 60 credit dissertation) 15-credit course units in their first year, and in their second year take the Research Skills unit (30 credits, two semesters) and the remaining 15-credit course unit (two units if doing the 60 credit dissertation), plus the dissertation (60/90 credits).

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
MA Philosophy Research Skills PHIL60010 30 Mandatory
Philosophy of Mind PHIL60072 15 Optional
Philosophy of Language PHIL60082 15 Optional
Landmark Papers in Analytic Philosophy PHIL60311 15 Optional
History of Analytic Philosophy PHIL60511 15 Optional
MA Philosophy Dissertation PHIL70170 90 Optional
Dissertation PHIL70300 60 Optional
Issues in Epistemology PHIL70331 15 Optional
Philosophy of Action PHIL70552 15 Optional
Governing in an Unjust World: Justice and International Relations POLI60182 15 Optional
The Ethics Of Killing POLI60221 15 Optional
Debating Justice POLI70611 15 Optional
Theories of Rights POLI70722 15 Optional
Political Theory of the European Union POLI71191 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 14 course units

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: dass@manchester.ac.uk