MA in Philosophy

The Open University

Program Description

MA in Philosophy

The Open University

MA in Philosophy

This degree course is for those who want to develop their research and analytical skills and upgrade their qualifications. It will suit anyone with appropriate entry qualifications who has a passion for philosophy and is looking for an intellectual challenge.

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in philosophy will:

  • allow you to study a range of philosophical questions in depth
  • teach the research skills of finding appropriate sources and using them effectively
  • teach you to read critically, extract arguments and compare different views on the same question
  • teach you to write essays that are effective in exposition and argument.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Although some aspects of the teaching, learning and assessment methods change over the three years of the qualification, there are common elements. In the first year, you will need to read the material that will be sent to you, and to do the exercises set within the text. In addition, you are asked to complete five writing assignments. You send these to your tutor, who will annotate them and return them with a cover-page of written comments. In addition, you will have access to a number of computer conferences, although participation in these is voluntary. These will include a conference open only to you and other members of your tutorial group, and a national conference open to all those on the module.

The second year follows the same pattern, except that you are sent less material, and are expected to read more both from a few books you will need to buy yourself and from the extensive online resources provided by the library.

In the third year you are not sent any material to read. Instead, you are asked to work on a dissertation, the title of which you decide yourself, in conjunction with your tutor. You will have to find the material you need in order to write this dissertation yourself, although your tutor will be there to offer advice.

You will acquire knowledge and understanding by working through the material you are sent, and the material which you acquire yourself. Your cognitive skills and your practical and professional skills will be acquired at a simple level in the first year, and will be developed in the second and third. The way in which the module is taught (feedback on written work that you will use to inform your subsequent writing) encourages you to write effectively and to improve your learning and performance. Through practice, you will also acquire the skills to use IT both in finding research material, and as a means of communication.

You are assessed in the first year on the basis of your written work, and a final examination (counting, respectively, as 75% and 25% of your final mark). In the second year you are assessed solely on the basis of your written work (your final assignment, which is twice as long as the others, counts as 50% of your mark and you need to get at least 40% on it to pass the module). In the final year you are assessed solely on the quality of the dissertation.

Career impact

Studying philosophy will hone your ability to think clearly, reason logically, and put forward and evaluate arguments. As well as developing skills in reading and understanding philosophy texts, you will be able to engage with some areas of contemporary philosophical enquiry. With an MA in Philosophy you will have an excellent foundation for further study or research at doctoral level, as well as a respected qualification and valuable transferable skills such as critical thinking, research skills, time management, and problem-solving that are in demand in many areas of business, government and the media.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Philosophy course. Your degree need not be explicitly in philosophy, but you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The foundation module will bring you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches, but does not offer remedial undergraduate training for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience. Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

If you are in any doubt about whether you possess these skills, you should consider taking one or two of our higher level undergraduate modules in philosophy first. Our 60 credit Level 2 module Exploring philosophy (A222), in particular, is designed to introduce standard techniques of analysis and argument, some of which will be presupposed at MA level. If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact our Student Registration & Enquiry Service by clicking on the orange buttons at the top of the page.

You must commence your studies towards the MA in Philosophy with the postgraduate foundation module in philosophy and your final module must be the philosophy dissertation.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

Read more about this programme on the Open University website here

The Open University

Last updated July 24, 2015
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Aug. 2016
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1 - 10 years
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Start date Aug. 2016
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United Kingdom
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Duration 1 - 10 years
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