Philosophy MA (Hons)

  • For Entry: September
  • Duration: 4 years
  • School: School of Humanities

Ever wondered: what is time? Does my cat think? Is censorship ever justified? Explore these questions and more with one of our Philosophy courses. Examine your own beliefs and put them to the test as you investigate the views of some of the most important thinkers in the history of Western thought.

We offer MA degrees both in Philosophy and in European Philosophy (where you specialise in continental thinkers such as Sartre, Derrida and Foucault).

Why study Philosophy at Dundee?

Philosophy involves being open to new and different responses to familiar and unfamiliar questions. If you ever find yourself thinking about big questions beyond everyday experience - questions that may never have a single, final answer - then you would probably enjoy studying philosophy.

Dundee is unique in Scotland in offering a specialisation in Continental Philosophy through our degree in European Philosophy - where you'll encounter the most exciting thinkers over the last 100 years (such as Nietzsche, Sartre, Foucault, and Deleuze).

We explore how philosophy is important to real-world concerns and contemporary issues by:

  • drawing on films and artworks in our lectures
  • discussing important scientific developments
  • debating controversial ethical issues
  • looking at how texts written three hundred years ago can be relevant to political situations today

You will be encouraged to make links between philosophy and other disciplines, such as politics, literature, film, the environment, psychology, and computer science. Specialist modules and independent study options will help you to explore philosophically the topics of special interest to you.

What's so good about Philosophy at Dundee?

Philosophy at Dundee has the highest number of specialist researchers and teachers on Nietzsche, existentialism, phenomenology and recent French and German philosophy in Scotland.

Our course ties Modern European philosophy to concrete, practical, and everyday questions-such as ethics, technology, economics, communication, work and art.

Student society 

The Philosophy Society is a thriving student-led group that meets regularly in term-time to listen to invited speakers and debate important philosophical questions.

Seminars, workshops and conferences

As a student with us, you will be able to attend the Philosophy research seminars, where you will hear papers by visiting international speakers working in some of the most exciting areas of contemporary philosophy. You will also be able to attend the interdisciplinary School of Humanities research seminars.

As you progress to Honours, you will be encouraged to attend workshops and conferences hosted by the staff and postgraduate students in Philosophy: recent events have examined issues in contemporary ethics, in philosophy and science, and in philosophy and art, and have investigated the work of key thinkers in contemporary European philosophy.

Field trips

Optional field trips to museums, archives and art galleries are also a regular feature, as we encourage you to link your philosophical studies to a broader cultural and social context.

The amazing thing about studying here is that you can take subjects that are not necessarily part of your degree. Also you can start with a new language or continue with one you already know.

Degree Combinations

  • European Philosophy MA
  • European Philosophy with French MA
  • European Philosophy with German MA
  • European Philosophy with Spanish MA
  • Philosophy and English MA
  • Philosophy and European Studies MA
  • Philosophy and Film MA
  • Philosophy and History MA
  • Philosophy and International Relations MA
  • Philosophy and Politics MA
  • Philosophy and Psychology MA
  • Philosophy with French MA
  • Philosophy with German MA
  • Philosophy with Spanish MA

Related Courses

This course is taught by the Philosophy team based in the School of Humanities.

You will attend two philosophy lectures per week, in which teaching staff will introduce you to the major themes and topics of a philosopher or philosophical problem. 

You will also attend a philosophy tutorial every week, where you will question and develop your own world views, construct arguments to defend them, and put together projects to illustrate them with a small group of students. 

You will also engage in independent reading and research, with specially designed worksheets and assignments to help you to do this most effectively. 

All Level 1 and 2 students have a tutor who leads the weekly tutorial discussion and who is there to help you if you need advice.

Honours Degree

An honours degree normally takes four years, full time, you study levels 1-4, as described below.

Typical Degree Programme

At Level 1, you will study Plato and Descartes, as well as a variety of thinkers on the good life and the nature of reality. At Level 2 you will study existentialist philosophers such as Sartre and Camus in relation to contemporary culture, technology, and film, and topics in aesthetics and the philosophy of art..

Please note: for a Philosophy degree, students are required to take any two Level 1 or 2 modules (not necessarily one of each; it could be two at level 1, or two at Level 2).

You can then specialise in Levels 3 and 4 through taking different options including modules on technology, the self, art and religion.

For single Honours students the dissertation in Level 4 is the high point, where you put forward and defend a thesis in an area of philosophy of your choice. Recent dissertation topics have involved music, film, the environment, gender, law, evolutionary theory, artificial intelligence, photography, literature and theatre.

You will have the opportunity to study with experts in these fields and to work with them on major philosophers such as Plato, Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault, Bergson, Badiou, and Deleuze.

Level 1

A total of 6 modules, including at least one of:

  • Plato and the Good Life: PI11006
    Semester 1, 20 credits
    This module introduces philosophy through the works of Plato and by asking the question: what is the good life? This question and Plato's answers to it are among the most enduring themes in the Western tradition of thought. The module will introduce Plato with a variety of philosophical texts focused on the 'good life'. Students will be exposed to a range of philosophical methods and approaches, from Platonic dialogue to recent essays, and will be introduced to key skills in philosophical reading and critical assessment.

    Find out more about PI11006

  • Descartes, Thought and Reality: PI11007
    Semester 2, 20 credits
    This module will study the main concepts and methods of Descartes' Meditations and compare different philosophical conceptions of the relation between thought and reality, and mind and body. Students will develop a critical understanding of Descartes' position in modern western philosophy. The module will expose students to a range of philosophical methods and approaches, from Meditations to philosophical letters and essays, and will build key skills in philosophical reading and critical assessment.

    Find out more about PI11007

Plus further MA modules.

Level 2

A total of 6 modules, including at least one of:

  • Existential Themes in Technology, Culture and Film: PI21004
    Semester 1, 20 credits
    Existentialism was a philosophical movement that reached its height of popularity in the mid-twentieth century and grew as a reaction to its philosophical predecessors whom it claimed had lost touch with the fundamental aim of philosophy—namely, to understand what it means to exist. Existentialism was also a reaction to the false optimism of progress that followed on from the Enlightenment and the sense of spiritual loss and political cynicism generated by the two World Wars.

    This module will explore different types of existential philosophies and how the concerns they raise can be seen in contemporary forms of society and culture, such as technology, art and film. Students will therefore gain an understanding of a major movement within twentieth century philosophy and be able to apply this understanding critically in assessing significant forms of contemporary culture. 

    Find out more about PI21004

  • Aesthetics: PI22006
    Semester 2, 20 credits
    This module introduces the wide range of philosophical debates relating to Art and Aesthetics. Part One will focus on "Language and Aesthetics", Part Two focuses on Enlightenment Aesthetics and will introduce the principal tenets of Kant's aesthetics, and Part Three will discuss Kant's distinction between the beautiful and the sublime with reference to such contemporary philosophers as Lyotard. Part Four will introduce issues relating specifically to Art and Religion.

    Find out more about PI22006

Plus further MA modules.

Level 3

A total of 4 modules (2 modules for joint Honours)

A selection of the following modules will be available in any one year:

Level 4

A total of 4 modules (2 modules for joint Honours)

A selection of the following modules will be available in any one year:

At Level 4, in addition to the modules listed above, it is possible to take ONE level 3 module.

Note: For details of Film Studies modules (for MA Philosophy and Film) please see English and Film Studies.

Students on the European Philosophy programme must take 'Existential Themes in Technology, Culture and Film' at Level 2 and specialise in European Philosophy at Levels 3 and 4.

European Philosophy modules are marked with an asterisk*.

Please visit our programme webpage for further details of these modules.

Assessment in philosophy is by coursework essays, tutorial performance, exams and dissertations. We take full advantage of the University's Virtual Learning Environment MyDundee: on some modules students write online journals, post minutes of tutorials, or take part in online discussions.

A philosophy degree provides you with intellectual and perceptual skills which are an advantage in the pursuit of any professional career. 

Studying philosophy will allow you to:

  • Identify and explain the underlying issues in all kinds of debate.
  • Read closely and become sensitive to arguments from a variety of sources and traditions.
  • Offer clear and rigorous critical responses to arguments.
  • Summarise and assess points of view which are not your own.
  • Learn the self-discipline required for independent research.

Employers recognise that these skills are highly transferable. They mark out independent and thoughtful individuals. 

As well as continuing to postgraduate study, recent graduates have gone on to work in publishing, social work, education, librarianship, the music industry, local councils and the civil service.

The following are the minimum requirements, please note qualifications have to be obtained at the first sitting of examinations.

Please note that the entry requirements in our printed prospectus may be subject to change. The entry requirements listed below are up to date and should be referred to in case of any discrepancy.

Courses starting September 2015

Level 1 Entry

Qualification Minimum Grade Typical Grade
SQA Higher BBBB AABB
GCE A-Level BCC BBB
ILC Higher AABB
IB Diploma 30 points (including 5, 5, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects None, but see requirements for other Joint Honours subjects
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HNC with B in the Graded Unit
Scottish Baccalaureate Pass with CC at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access Relevant subjects with ABB grades to include English Literature/Language at SCQF Level 6 and Communication 4 plus Literature 1
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDM
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A-levels in appropriate subjects at AB
European Baccalaureate 75% overall with 7.5 in an Art & Design subject and 7.5 in a literate subject

Courses starting September 2015

Advanced Entry (to Level 2)

Qualification Grade
SQA Advanced Higher AB (Advanced Higher) + BB (Higher) in different subjects
GCE A-Level ABB
IB Diploma 34 points (including 6, 6, 5 at Higher Level)
Essential Subjects None, but see requirements for other Joint Honours subjects
EU & International Visit our Your Country webpages for entry requirements tailored to your home country
Other Qualifications
SQA A relevant HND with BB in the Graded Units
Scottish Baccalaureate Distinction with AB at Advanced Higher
SWAP Access
EDEXCEL A relevant BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD
Advanced Diploma Grade B with ASL-A Level at B
Welsh Baccalaureate Pass with A Levels at BB (Level 1 entry)
European Baccalaureate

There have been many changes to the arrangements for funding students entering higher education in recent years, yet a degree from the University of Dundee, with its high rate of employment success, remains a cost-effective option.

The fees you pay will, in most cases, depend on your current country of residence.

The fee shown is annual, and may be subject to an increase each year.

Fee categoryFees for students starting September 2015
Scottish students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Rest of UK students £9,000 per year, for a maximum of 3 years, even if you are studying a four year degree. See our scholarships for rest of UK applicants."
EU students £1,820 per year of study (for Sept 2014 entry). Fees for September 2015 will be confirmed by the Scottish Government in early 2015.
Overseas students (non-EU) £12,950 per year of study. See our scholarships for international applicants."

Scottish and EU students can apply to the Students Award Agency for Scotland (SAAS) to have tuition fees paid by the Scottish Government.

Rest of the UK students can apply for financial assistance, including a loan to cover the full cost of the tuition fees, from the Student Loan Company.

The Dundee MA degrees follow the distinctive pattern of many Scottish universities by offering a broad-based education that requires you to study a number of different subjects in Levels 1 and 2 (Level 2 only for Advanced Entry Honours degrees). You do not have to finalise your choice of degree course until you are better able to appreciate both the nature of the subjects you are studying and the relationships between them. However, you must make an initial choice of course on the application form and we would expect you to provide some evidence of your enthusiasm for your chosen course and details of any relevant experience.

We use a range of learning methods at Dundee: you will be expected to respond to the information and advice provided by academic staff, especially in lectures; to prepare for and participate in tutorial discussion or to work in practical classes; to work individually or in groups on set assignments such as essays and projects; and to 'read round' the subject. Consequently, we are looking for evidence that you are capable of working systematically, of responding to the guidance of your teachers, and that you have both the ability and enthusiasm to successfully complete a degree programme.

If you wish to study Philosophy or European Philosophy at Dundee, it would be advantageous for you to be able to indicate to us that you are willing to think critically about a range of issues; that you are willing to tackle challenging texts; that you are interested in thinking about (and discussing) the 'big questions' beyond everyday experience; and that you have an open mind to different sides of an argument. Clearly, you might find it difficult to provide 'hard evidence' of any of this directly in your application, but your statement and your referee's report might provide an indication that you are willing to engage in thinking of this kind.

What is important to us, in your application, is the evidence provided by the grades you have attained, or are predicted to attain, in your examinations, along with whatever you and your referee can point to indicating both your special interest in any of our subject areas, and your general liveliness of mind.

Your personal statement is an opportunity to say why you should be offered a place to study in Dundee. We are looking for applicants with an ability to express opinions clearly with reasoned support and evidence, who are open to critical guidance, and who have a commitment to high standards of achievement in all they do. These qualities can be demonstrated through academic attainment, paid or voluntary work, and extra-curricular activities of all kinds.

Referees should concisely indicate your analytical abilities, communication skills, capacity for academic work, and commitment to your studies. We will be interested to hear about examples of initiative, leadership, and any evidence of organisational skills. Indicators of a positive outlook and engagement with social and cultural activities will be welcome, as will an assessment of your potential to develop in the university environment.

We will consider applications to one or more MA courses at Dundee: each application will be considered on its merits. We are looking for applicants who either have achieved, or will achieve, the published requirements in terms of Highers, Advanced Highers, A-Levels or acceptable alternative qualifications.

Please apply via UCAS



Degree UCAS Code KIS Data
Philosophy MA (Hons)V500
European Philosophy MAV501
European Philosophy with French MAVR51
European Philosophy with German MAVR52
European Philosophy with Spanish MAVR54
Philosophy and English MAQV35
Philosophy and European Studies MARV85
Philosophy and Film MAVP53
Philosophy and History MAVV15
Philosophy and International Relations MAVL5G
Philosophy and Politics MALV25
Philosophy and Psychology MACV85
Philosophy with French MAV5R1
Philosophy with German MAV5R2
Philosophy with Spanish MAV5R4