Master in Applied Ethics


Program Description


Moral problems occur in all areas of life: professional, personal, political. Should banks impose strict criteria on clients to promote corporate social responsibility? How to allocate fairly the benefits and burdens of climate change policy options? For which purposes is the use of big data morally permissible? Do you believe it is ethical for us to use biological enhancement technologies to make us better, rather than simply well? Can it be justified to use biotechnology to change animals in order to avoid welfare problems in livestock? Such problems require careful reflection on the facts – but also on our basic moral values.

Interaction between practice and theory

The Applied Ethics Master’s program offers you an in-depth focus on the interaction between moral practice and ethical theory, allowing you to explore ethical theories in relation to actual practical dilemmas. At the end of your studies, you will possess a thorough theoretical background in ethics, including important methods and debates in applied ethics. You will also understand the implications of legal and political frameworks for ethical argumentation.

The program offers the opportunity to do an internship with a national or international organization or NGO, and to participate in elective Master-level courses abroad.

Interdisciplinary studies

Our interdisciplinary approach offers you multiple avenues of investigation into applied ethics. In addition to studying philosophy, you will learn about the contexts in which moral problems arise and the different types of analysis that may be needed in various contexts. You will also examine how viewpoints from different disciplines can strengthen ethical reflection and argumentation.

The Master’s program in Applied Ethics is embedded in Utrecht University’s Ethics Institute, a research-driven organization that focuses on human dignity and human rights, education ethics, animal ethics, sustainability ethics, public health ethics, and bioethics. Read more about the teaching and research environment, including our teaching staff.

Internationally oriented program and research

This English-taught Master’s program attracts international and Dutch students with diverse disciplinary backgrounds (for example, philosophy, medicine, law, international studies, economics) as well as people with professional experience (for example, health care professionals, lawyers, veterinarians, management consultants in corporate social responsibility & business ethics, or journalists). This unique student body provides a wide range of viewpoints through which you can explore ethical dilemmas.

After Graduation

During your studies in this program, you will develop the necessary skills to analyze important current ethical issues. You will learn to critically propose possible solutions as well as to engage professionals and other individuals concerned in reflection on the moral dimensions of their practice. After completing the program, you will have the skills to:

  • Identify and analyze ethical arguments about moral problems in different social and professional contexts.
  • Present sound input to public debates on moral issues.
  • Formulate theory-based policy recommendations regarding moral issues in specific practices.
  • Organize constructive ethical deliberation in institutional and professional contexts.

In your program, you will have the opportunity to actively work on your career development.

There are various career opportunities after graduating in Applied Ethics. A recent survey shows that around 30% of our graduates work at a university, either as teachers or as PhD students. After finishing the program, you are also able to teach ethics to professionals or to work as a consultant in governmental and diplomatic services. Some of our alumni work in journalism or in various NGOs or banks.

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of int ... Read More

Founded in 1636, Utrecht University is an esteemed international research university, consistently positioned number one in The Netherlands, 14th in continental Europe and the worldwide top 100 of international rankings, and member of the renowned European League of Research Universities. Read less