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Postgraduate Study in Philosophy at The Open University

This page provides an overview of the OU Philosophy Department's postgraduate teaching. The department has an active and enthusiastic programme of graduate study, which includes a highly regarded MA in Philosophy and both full-time and part-time PhD supervision.

The MA in Philosophy

The MA programme consists of two parts. Part 1 is a 60 point module studied over 31 weeks, and Part 2 (which includes a dissertation) is a 120 point module studied over 47 weeks. The overall aim of the MA is to teach some key areas of philosophy at the appropriate level and to provide students with the skills needed for independent postgraduate study. The skills taught will include those of finding and evaluating material, critical reading, and writing philosophy at postgraduate level.

This course is ideal for those who have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy and want to take their studies to the next level. It is also an ideal preparation for those who are considering doctoral study.

Please follow this link for more information about the MA in Philosophy, including details of how to apply for a place on the course.


Research degrees

To be awarded a Doctorate in Philosophy is to succeed at the highest level of student qualification. The degree involves the independent writing and examination of a book-length dissertation on a subject of the student's choice, under the supervision of members of the Philosophy Department who have expertise in that area. Supervisors meet regularly with their PhD students to help, support, and advise them, and to direct their research and reading towards the most important and most recent work in their area of study.

All of the Philosophy staff are happy and available to provide PhD supervision in their own areas of specialisation. Follow this link for details of staff and their research interests.

Applicants for the a PhD are normally expected to possess an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or better) with Philosophy as a main subject and, in addition, to hold an MA in Philosophy. Applicants who do not meet these criteria will need to give evidence through written work that they are sufficiently prepared to embark on research in the subject. Full-time research students are usually expected to live near Milton Keynes and to meet their supervisor frequently. Part-time students normally meet their supervisors three or four times a year.

The department's postgraduate teaching programmes are supported by the OU Library in at the Walton Hall in Milton Keynes, which has extensive holdings in philosophy and a helpful acquisition policy. The OU Library receives most of the leading philosophy journals, and has electronic access both to these and to a wide variety of other research resources.

The department supports postgraduate study by holding an annual Graduate Conference each year, for part-time and full-time research students. In recent years, these events have been held in London, using conference facilities and accommodation provided by the London University Halls of Residence in and around Bloomsbury (and an excellent noodle bar nearby). Food and accommodation is provided free for students and some travel expenses are also covered. The conference provides an opportunity for our research students to exchange ideas and to enjoy the experience of discussing their work in an informal and supportive setting. All our students are warmly encouraged to attend and to present a short talk on some aspect of their project. In addition, research students are cordially invited to department seminars, conferences and research days.

Postgraduate work in Philosophy is challenging, but also extremely rewarding. We asked some of our recent PhD graduates to talk about their experience of doctoral study at the OU and to tell us what they are doing now. Follow this link for their responses.

Follow this link to listen to one PhD graduate, David Edmonds, talking about his experience of studying for a PhD in Philosophy with The Open University.

Funding and Applying for a Place

The Philosophy Department is pleased to announce Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funding through the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts, South-East England (CHASE). CHASE is matching AHRC funding of 17m and will be awarding more than 375 AHRC-studentships over a five-year period starting in 2014/15. CHASE AHRC studentships are available to UK and EU residents at The Open University in the Faculty’s subject areas. Awards for UK residents include fees and maintenance while EU residents are eligible for fees only. The research interests of members of the Department can be found on their websites, available via the staff link. Applications are through the standard Open University form in the first instance.

For advice on applying contact the Research Degrees Team at +44 (0)1908 654882 or

The Philosophy Department also encourages people to apply for graduate study (either full-time or part-time) outside the CHASE scheme. Follow this link for information on applying to study for a research degree.

Further Enquiries

If you would like to ask us any questions at all about the possibility of postgraduate study in Philosophy at The Open University, please do contact us. You can do this by emailing/ phoning/ writing to the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Sophie-Grace Chappell. She can be contacted via the following address:

Post: The Department of Philosophy, Arts Faculty, The Open University, Walton Hall, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA
Tel: 01908 659214 (International +44 (0)1908 659214)