• For Entry: September
  • Duration: 12 months
  • School: Humanities
  • Study Mode: Full Time

This course is designed to explore the role of philosophy in the twenty-first century

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

This course seeks to overcome the idea that philosophy is split between two cultures (one belonging to the world of science, the other, the world of the arts and humanities) by exploring both of these strands.

The first strand provides an opportunity to study philosophical approaches to understanding new materialisms and realisms and their significance within the context of recent scientific developments. It focuses on Continental philosophy, and studies figures such as:

  • Alain Badiou
  • Ray Brassier
  • Jane Bennett
  • Maurizio Ferraris
  • Elizabeth Grosz
  • Graham Harman
  • Donna Haraway
  • Bruno Latour
  • Catherine Malabou
  • Quentin Meillassoux
  • Isabelle Stengers
  • Slavoy Žižek

The second strand provides an opportunity to study philosophical approaches to understanding the role of the imagination in philosophy and its significance within recent social, literary and cultural contexts. It focuses on Continental philosophy, and studies figures such as:

  • Marc Augé
  • Lorainne Code
  • Jean-Pierre Dupuy
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Martin Heidegger
  • Luce Irigaray
  • Julia Kristeva
  • Michèle Le Dœuff
  • Karl Marx

The course also looks at writers such as:

  • Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Ted Hughes
  • J.M. Coetzee

Topics of study in this strand in the past have included:

  • the faculties of imagination
  • the image
  • the importance of ‘place’ for imagination
  • the zoological imagination
  • the temporal-political imagination
  • the unconscious

As well as engaging with a variety of key sources in Continental philosophy, you will also explore related areas, such as psychoanalysis, sociology, political theory, literary criticism and biology.

During your time with us you are invited to contribute to our postgraduate conference and to get involved in our postgraduate community.

We offer a regular postgraduate forum, visiting speakers and an annual postgraduate conference. You will also benefit from a range of Generic Skills classes throughout the year.

Study an individual module

If you wish to study just one module from this course, rather than a whole degree, you can choose to apply for an individual module. Visit the Individual Humanities Module webpage for more information.

Philosophy postgraduate community

As a postgraduate Philosophy student you will be a member of an active postgraduate community where students regularly participate in research seminars, reading groups and conferences.

Philosophy's Postgraduate Work-in-Progress Seminars are a forum for MLitt, MPhil and PhD students to present and discuss their work. Students are also encouraged to organise and participate in specialist reading groups. In recent years, staff and students have met to examine Kant's Critique of Judgement, Schopenhauer's World as Will and Representation, and Deleuze's Francis Bacon: the logic of sensation.

There are also regular research seminars, with papers given by invited international and UK speakers, reflecting our research specialisms in both continental and analytic fields.

Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy

Philosophy at Dundee is a small team of Continental Philosophy specialists - Dr Dominic Smith, Dr Ashley Woodward, Dr Tina RockDr Oisin Keohane, Dr Frank Ruda and Dr Undine Sellbach. Students studying here get individual attention from these experts.

They are all members of the Scottish Centre for Continental Philosophy based at Dundee, which brings together academics from Dundee, Scotland and the UK. It aims to foster the study of continental philosophy in all its historical and contemporary forms and to make connections to other philosophical traditions and academic disciplines.

The Centre organises conferences, workshops and seminars in continental philosophy. It brings together researchers and students interested in historical figures and contemporary debates. The Centre also connects to work in philosophy and the arts through its undergraduate degree programme in Art, Philosophy and Contemporary Practice and through MLitt Philosophy and the Master of Fine Art at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design.

The Centre has international links and current research programmes with Paris 8, Deakin University and the Melbourne School of Continental Philosophy, Association for Continental Philosophy of Religion and Australasian Society for Continental Philosophy. There are also Erasmus links with Freiburg, Grenoble, Turin, Ostrava, Tilburg and Bilkent.

Who should study this course?

This course is ideal if you wish to pursue doctoral studies in continental philosophy in relation to aesthetics and art, philosophy of technology, philosophy of science (especially biology), and socio-political problems.

You are not expected to have a previous degree in philosophy, however, you should be prepared to think and write philosophically with respect to close analysis of texts and the formulation of your own arguments.

Language Learning

If you need to acquire or improve your foreign language skills to enhance your postgraduate studies, (e.g. to read texts in a native language), you can enrol on a Languages for All course free of charge.

Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

The University of Dundee has been given a Gold award – the highest possible rating – in the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF).

Read more about the Teaching Excellence Framework

TEF Gold - Teaching Excellence Framework

How you will be taught

A variety of teaching methods will be used, including: small group teaching, supervised research, tutorial sessions, seminars, presentations, invited speakers and discussion groups. Students will be supervised on a year-long module in an area of research independently selected by the student.

Learning methods will include essay assessments, abstracts, and an annotated bibliography. Non-assessed methods include oral presentations at seminars and an annual conference hosted by Humanities.

How you will be assessed

  • Written coursework/continuous assessment (essays, abstract, annotated bibliography): 66%
  • Dissertation of approx. 10,000-12,000 words: 34%

What you will study

Students can take the following modules and the Philosophy dissertation

This is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Core modules

Credit rating: 40

  • What is 'imagination'?
  • What key concepts, thinkers and themes can be used to explore it?
  • How can philosophical theories be translated into, or exert an influence upon, creative practices?
  • In what sense is philosophy a 'creative practice'?
  • Is life itself a creative practice?

Such are the questions tackled by this module. The key theme is inspiration – how can philosophical theories better inspire us to be imaginative and creative?

The first part of the module is structured around key concepts. The aim here is to gain key concepts from the history of philosophy that can subsequently be refined, applied and developed as the module unfolds.

Each week, we cover new themes and thinkers related to the overarching themes of imagination and creativity. These may vary depending on staff availability, but we aim to include themes such as:

  • the faculties of imagination
  • the image
  • the importance of ‘place’ for imagination
  • the zoological imagination
  • the temporal-political imagination
  • the unconscious 

Credit rating: 40

  • What are the various forms of materialism and realism that can be found in philosophy today?
  • What is the relationship of postmodernism to these new forms of materialisms and realisms?
  • What are the metaphysical, epistemological and political consequences of these various forms of materialism and realism?
  • How do the various forms of materialism – such as mechanical, historical, dialectical, speculative, textual, neurological, corporeal, cosmo-physical – relate to one another?

Taking aim at ‘postmodernism’ and ‘hermeneutics’, new forms of materialism and realism have emerged in recent years to critique the emphasis on reality as something constructed and interpreted (antirealism). While acknowledging the value of the criticisms put forward by ‘postmodernism’ of traditional, dogmatic realism, a number of contemporary philosophers insist that the insights of ‘postmodernism’ have reached a dead end. The course will explore these claims and the recent attempts to revive notions of ‘materiality’ and ‘reality’. 

  • To introduce students to some of the prominent emerging theories associated with new materialisms and realisms; 
  • To gain in-depth knowledge of the relevant topic and the various forms of materialism (mechanical, historical, dialectical, speculative, textual, neurological, corporeal, cosmo-physical);
  • To acquire detailed knowledge of debates in contemporary philosophy, that is, the period covering the emergence of new materialisms and realisms over the last decade; 
  • For students to develop a critical assessment of views examined in class and for them to articulate their own views on the same topic;
  • For students to write a well-researched paper on a subject selected within the field of contemporary philosophy and in relation to the module's main topic.

Optional modules

Credit rating: 40

This module allows students to design and execute a project in a philosophical area of their choosing, subject to available supervision. Students will manage and produce a piece of individual research – the length of a published paper – as a preparation for the dissertation. 

Credit rating: 40

  • What is an 'economy'?
  • Are the products of imagination and creativity 'commodities'?
  • In what sense are there different economies (of ideas, of culture, of desire, of politics, for example)?
  • Do the products of imagination and creativity always conform to economic imperatives, or are they capable of resisting and escaping them?

Such are the questions addressed by this module. Throughout, the key theme is critique – how can philosophical theories better equip us to be critically aware of the economic, technological and political conditions affecting acts of creativity and imagination?

Credit rating: 40

Why has philosophy and critical theory been so preoccupied with tragedy? Why has tragedy as a genre been given a particular privilege and cultural weight in the West? Examining the place of tragedy in some key thinkers of the Western philosophical tradition, this module also invites us to consider why the questions with which tragedy has itself struggled remain pertinent and urgent.


Credit rating: 60

This is an opportunity for students to formulate, frame and undertake a substantial piece of philosophical writing and research in an area of their choice.

You work closely with your supervisors but are also expected to take a high degree of responsibility for your projects, which will result in a 10 -12,000 word dissertation on a specialist topic that reflects the aims and outcomes of your MLitt Programme.

The dissertation topic will be finalised in consultation between you and a designated supervisor. This process will take place as early as possible in the case of full-time students, and the topic will normally be agreed at the start of the second semester of study at the latest. In the case of part-time students, the dissertation topic will normally be agreed by the end of the second semester in the first year of study, to allow for initial research over the summer vacation period.

The designated dissertation supervisor will give students guidance about the nature of the research required, the parameters of the project, and the standard expected, as well as about planning the research project, necessary rates of progress, and appropriate research approaches. Supervisor and student will meet regularly to review the student’s ongoing work, and the supervisor will request and comment on written work as appropriate and in a constructive manner.

All students must attempt the dissertation. Students whose dissertation fails to satisfy the examiners will be awarded the PG Diploma, provided that the taught elements of the course have been successfully completed.

For students interested in doctoral studies, teachers seeking training to Masters level and those working in creative industries, the Dundee philosophy programme is the only Scottish university specialising in Continental philosophy. It therefore provides its graduates with a unique opportunity. Because the department has a highly regarded international reputation for its research, any graduate wishing to pursue a doctorate in Continental philosophy will be well situated to continue. Our recent postgraduate students have been successful in obtaining funding from the AHRC, the Carnegie Trust, the UK Overseas Research Scheme, and the Royal Institute for Philosophy.

Postgraduates and Postdoctoral Research Fellows in the Department have gone on to academic posts in Philosophy and related disciplines in Britain, Ireland and the United States.

However, due to the non-vocational nature of a Philosophy degree many students also enter jobs unrelated to their course of study. For these students this course provides them with an opportunity to further develop their written presentation skills, as well as the ability to work independently and plan independent research and study.

Graduates will therefore benefit should they wish to pursue careers in such fields as teaching, creative industries, journalism, media, politics, risk management.

Learn more about careers related to the Humanities on our Careers Service website.

Students will normally be expected to have an honours degree, at first class or upper second class. Applicants with alternative qualifications and/or relevant experience may also be considered. Students should provide, along with their postgraduate application, copies of their degree transcript and, if applicable, a copy of their degree award certificate, two reference letters and written work in a subject relevant to literary study.

 EU and International qualifications

English Language Requirement

IELTS Overall 6.5
Listening 6.0
Reading 6.0
Writing 6.5
Speaking 6.5

 Equivalent grades from other test providers


English Language Programmes

We offer Pre-Sessional and Foundation Programme(s) throughout the year. These are designed to prepare you for university study in the UK when you have not yet met the language requirements for direct entry onto a degree programme.

 Discover our English Language Programmes

The fees you pay will depend on your fee status. Your fee status is determined by us using the information you provide on your application.

 Find out more about fee status

Fee statusFees for students starting academic year 2018-19
Scottish and EU students £6,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £6,950 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £16,450 per year of study
See our scholarships for international applicants
Fee statusFees for students starting academic year 2019-20
Scottish and EU students £7,300 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Rest of UK students £7,300 per year of study
See our scholarships for UK/EU applicants
Overseas students (non-EU) £17,275 per year of study
See our scholarships for International applicants

Additional costs

You may incur additional costs in the course of your education at the University over and above tuition fees in an academic year.

Examples of additional costs:

One off costOngoing costIncidental cost
Graduation feeStudio feeField trips

*these are examples only and are not exhaustive.

Additional costs:

  • may be mandatory or optional expenses
  • may be one off, ongoing or incidental charges and certain costs may be payable annually for each year of your programme of study
  • vary depending on your programme of study
  • are payable by you and are non-refundable and non-transferable

Unfortunately, failure to pay additional costs may result in limitations on your student experience.

For additional costs specific to your course please speak to our Enquiry Team.

You apply for this course via the UCAS Postgraduate website which is free of charge. You can check the progress of your application online and you can also make multiple applications.

You'll need to upload relevant documents as part of your application. Please read the how to apply page before you apply to find out about what you'll need.

  Degree Course code
Apply nowPhilosophy MLittP052129

Course Contact

Dr Oisín Keohane
+44 (0)1382 384541

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