Master in Philosophy: Philosophy, Bioethics and Health

General

Program Description

The need for interdisciplinary reflection is growing as developments within society lead to new challenges in health care. For example shifts in responsibility: patients are expected to take greater responsibility for their own health and to ’manage themselves’ and insurers are becoming responsible for both the cost and the quality of health-care provisions. In addition, there are many rapid scientific and technological developments to take into account: from knowledge of the genetic basis of diseases, pre-implantation diagnosis and IVF, to the use of plastic surgery for aesthetic enhancement. Then there are the problems of just allocation caused by the growing number of treatment options for all kinds of diseases and the growing number of people living well into old age. Such developments cause a change in the medical ethical agenda.

In the Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme, you will acquire expertise in the area where medical ethics meets neuroscience and mental health. The expertise you will acquire at VU Amsterdam is not covered by other Master’s programmes in the Netherlands. It is the result of close collaboration between Faculty of Philosophy at VU Amsterdam and the Department of Medical Humanities at VU Medical Center, and the backgrounds of the course coordinators and academic staff.

If you have a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences, Medicine, or Psychology, the programme is a great opportunity to obtain two Master’s degrees: one in philosophy and one in your original discipline. Graduates with two Master’s degrees are of great value to many health-care organisations.
With Philosophy, Bioethics and Health you will be an attractive candidate for the position of clinical ethicist or advisor to the management and the board within health-care organisations, health insurance companies, medical ethical committees and other organisations dealing with societal and ethical issues in healthcare.

Study programme

Year one
You combine your non-philosophy Master’s with five of our courses in the first year: Philosophy 1 - 4, and Bioethics, Technology, & Law.

Year 2
The second year consists of four thematic courses, Philosophy 5, a practical training including a winter school in Oxford, a thesis seminar, and a thesis. Travel expenses for the Winter school will have to be covered by the students themselves, estimated at approximately 250 Euros.

Career prospects

With Philosophy, Bioethics and Health you will be an attractive candidate for the position of clinical ethicist or assistant/advisor to the management and the board within health-care organizations, health insurance companies, medical ethical committees and other organizations dealing with societal and ethical issues in health care. As a holder of two degrees (if you take the full two-year programme), you will have an extra advantage on the labour market.

Why VU Amsterdam?

In the Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme, you will acquire specific expertise in the area where medical ethics meets neuroscience and mental health. The specific expertise you will acquire at VU Amsterdam is not covered by other Master’s programmes in the Netherlands. It is the result of close collaboration between Faculty of Philosophy at VU Amsterdam and the Department of Medical Humanities at VU Medical Center, and the backgrounds of the course coordinators and academic staff taking part in this Master’s.

Two master's degrees

If you have a Bachelor’s in Health Sciences or Law, the two-year Philosophy, Bioethics and Health programme is a great opportunity to obtain two Master’s degrees: one in philosophy and one in your original discipline. Graduates with two Master’s degrees are of great value to many health-care organizations.

If you have a Bachelor’s in Philosophy, you can take a modified two-year programme. In the first year, you will follow a range of complementary courses, preferably in the fields of Health Sciences, Social Sciences and Law, though other combinations may be possible.

Educational objectives

With the Master’s degree specialization in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health, VU Amsterdam aims to educate professionals in philosophy and medical ethics and foster their capacity to reflect on these issues.

Cognitive goals
The knowledge that students acquire on this programme includes:

  • various normative ethical theories;
  • theory and methodology of empirical ethics research;
  • recent developments in moral psychology, psychiatry and neuroscience and their relevance for moral philosophy and medical ethics;
  • methodological, legal, and moral issues regarding medical research involving human subjects;
  • the role of the state, insurance companies, health-care providers and patients in various health-care systems;
  • factors influencing costs of health care;
  • theory and methodology of cost effectiveness assessment.


Behavioural goals
The competencies that students acquire on this programme include:

  • evaluating the relevance and limitations of argumentation in medical ethics;
  • applying various argumentative approaches to medical ethical problems;
  • participating in moral case deliberation;
  • integrating ethical reasoning, daily practices and legal rules and regulations;
  • assessing the quality of cure and care involving the public in health-care policy decisions;
  • writing texts, documents and background analyses to inform professionals, executive boards and participants in multidisciplinary discussions.

Admission international students

Specific admission requirements for the two-year Master’s programme in Philosophy, specialization Bioethics and Health:

  • A Bachelor’s degree in Medicine, Health Sciences, Psychology, or another health-related discipline;
  • Eligibility to a health-related Master's programme (in principle, Faculty of Sciences, VU Amsterdam).

Part of the PBH-programme consists of courses (30EC in total) that are offered by a health-related Master's programme (in principle, Faculty of Sciences, VU Amsterdam). Therefore, it is a requirement that PBH-students are admissible to such a health-related Master's programme, too.

English Language entry requirements
All students whose first language is not English including both home and international students must be able to provide recent evidence that their spoken and written command of the English language is appropriate. This requirement is specified in order to ensure that the academic progress of students is not hindered by language difficulties.

Acceptable qualifications
Listed below are all the English language qualifications and tests and the level required to satisfy our English language entry requirements. The qualification or test result must have been awarded no more than two years prior to the proposed date of enrolment.

  • IELTS Academic Version: Overall grade of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each of the subtests.
  • TOEFL paper based test: Overall grade of 600 with a minimum of 55 in each of the subtests plus 4.0 in TWE.
  • TOEFL internet based test: Overall grade of 100 with a minimum of 20-23 in each of the subtests.
  • Cambridge Advanced English: A, B or C.

Exemption
Exemption from the requirements listed above can be awarded to students who have fulfilled the following requirements no longer than two years prior to the date of enrolment:

  • students who have fulfilled the requirements of the VU English language proficiency test TOEFL ITP, with the required scores. For more information please consult Taalloket.
  • Students with substantial education (minimum 12 months) conducted in English in an English speaking country.
  • Students holding an International Baccalaureate degree in English.

The required evidence should, if possible, be included with the complete application. If either unsatisfactory or no evidence of English language proficiency has been provided with the application, admission will be conditional upon the provision of such evidence. This condition will be clearly indicated on the offer letter and must be fulfilled before enrolment at VU Amsterdam.

Application

Students can apply via Studielink for the Master's programme Bioethics and Health under the label Filosofie 2 jaar/Philosophy 2 years.

After you have applied for the Master's programme in Studielink, you will receive two emails with your login details for VUnet (VU Amsterdam studentportal). Please complete your application in VUnet. Don’t forget to fill in your specialization on VUnet: Bioethics and Health.

During this step you will be asked to upload the following documents:

  • Transcript of records (scan from original)
  • Course descriptions (i.e. for courses related to the discipline of the Master, and for courses on general academic skills)
  • List of literature (the most important literature used for the courses)
  • CV
  • Motivation letter (max. one A4)
  • Thesis or sample of academic writing

Please prepare these documents before you're going to complete your application in VUnet!

Your application will be reviewed by the Admission Board.

Overview Philosophy: Philosophy, Bioethics & Health.

  • Language of instruction: English
  • Duration: 2 years
  • Application deadline: 31st of June for Dutch and EU-students. 1 April for non-EU-students.
  • Start date: 1 September
  • Study type: Full-time
  • Field of interest: Philosophy, Health and Movement.
  • Specializations: Philosophy, Bioethics and Health is a specialization of the master's programme Philosophy (2 years).

Last updated November 2019

About the School

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,00 ... Read More

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is an internationally renowned research university founded in 1880. The university offers over 150 English taught programmes at Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD level to 23,000 students from all over the world. Students and staff of 130 nationalities create a dynamic international academic community. The University distinguishes itself in research and education through four interdisciplinary themes: Human Health and Life Sciences, Science for Sustainability, Connected World and Governance for Society. Read less