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MA in Philosophy - Learning Outcomes

Educational aims

This taught postgraduate programme in philosophy will:

  • allow you to study a range of philosophical questions in depth
  • teach the research skills of finding appropriate sources and using them effectively
  • teach you to read critically, extract arguments and compare different views on the same question
  • teach you to write essays that are effective in exposition and argument.

Learning outcomes

The learning outcomes of the programme are described in four areas.

Knowledge and understanding

When you have completed this degree, you will have knowledge and understanding of:

  • key debates in selected areas of contemporary philosophy.

Cognitive skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • identify and obtain the material you need to complete your research
  • engage with both primary and secondary texts to make a thoughtful contribution to given debates.

Practical and/or professional skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to:

  • discuss some major topics in contemporary philosophy
  • read and understand philosophical literature
  • make use of the research opportunities provided by IT
  • apply a referencing system to your work.

Key skills

When you have completed this degree, you will be able to demonstrate the following skills:


You will be able to:

  • communicate effectively in writing to a specialised audience
  • participate effectively in debates held via computer conferencing.

Improving your own learning and performance

You will be able to:

  • use feedback from your tutor and fellow students effectively
  • know how to use other resources, such as libraries and ICT resources, to improve your own learning.

Teaching, learning and assessment methods

Although some aspects of the teaching, learning and assessment methods change over the three years of the qualification, there are common elements. In the first year, you will need to read the material that will be sent to you, and to do the exercises set within the text. In addition, you are asked to complete five written assignments. You send these to your tutor, who will annotate them and return them with a cover-page of written comments. In addition, you will have access to a number of electronic forums, although participation in these is voluntary. These will include a conference open only to you and other members of your tutorial group, and a national conference open to all those on the module.

The second year follows the same pattern, except that you are sent less material, and are expected to read more from a few books you will need to buy yourself.

In the third year you are not sent any material to read. Instead, you are asked to work on a dissertation, the title of which you decide yourself, in conjunction with your tutor. You will have to find the material you need in order to write this dissertation yourself, although your tutor will be there to offer advice.

You will acquire knowledge and understanding by working through the material you are sent, and the material which you acquire yourself. Your cognitive skills and your practical and professional skills will be acquired at a simple level in the first year, and will be developed in the second and third. The way in which the module is taught (feedback on written work that you will use to inform your subsequent writing) encourages you to write effectively and to improve your learning and performance. Through practice, you will also acquire the skills to use IT both in finding research material, and as a means of communication.

You are assessed in the first year on the basis of your written work, and a final examination. In the second year you are assessed solely on the basis of your written work (your final assignment, which is twice as long as the others, counts as 50% of your mark and you need to get at least 40% on it to pass the module). In the final year you are assessed solely on the quality of a dissertation of between 16,000 and 18,000 words on a topic agreed with your tutor.

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