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MA in Philosophy

Studying this MA in Philosophy will hone your ability to think clearly and logically, and develop your writing, research and analytical skills. You'll study texts from different periods and philosophical perspectives, including works by Plato, Friedrich Nietzsche, Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt; and you'll investigate contemporary debates on environmental aesthetics, consciousness, global justice, emotion, and morality in politics. Finally, you'll undertake a substantial piece of independent research, writing a dissertation on a topic of your choice. 

Key features of the course

  • Combines an in-depth study of philosophical texts and debates with a broad and diverse range of topics 
  • Examines texts by philosophers working at different times and from different perspectives 
  • Explores a variety of contemporary philosophical debates 
  • Develops valuable transferable skills that are highly prized in the workplace, including communication, problem-solving and self-management 
  • Excellent preparation for further study or research at doctoral level. 

Masters degree

Course code
F30
Credits

Credits

  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
180
How long it takes
2–10 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
Postgraduate loan available
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details

Modules

You must study the modules in the order shown below. 

To gain this qualification, you need 180 credits as follows

Compulsory modules Credits Next start
MA Philosophy part 1 (A853)

This module introduces you to graduate-level philosophy through studying the beauty of nature; a classic text – Plato’s Meno; the nature of consciousness; and issues around global justice. 
 

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60 06 Oct 2018  
MA Philosophy part 2 (A854)

In this module you'll study the emotions, Nietzsche, Foucault and Arendt on power, and political morality.

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120 06 Oct 2018  

Please note that MA Philosophy part 2 (A854) is worth 120 credits. Module fees for postgraduate modules are based on the number of credits you study. Therefore the fee for this 120 credit postgraduate module will be double that for a 60 credit postgraduate module offered in the same presentation.

You should note that the University’s unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.


We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time. If we make changes to this qualification, we’ll update this page as soon as possible. Once you’ve registered or are studying this qualification, where practicable, we’ll inform you in good time of any upcoming changes. If you’d like to know more about the circumstances in which the University might make changes to the curriculum, see our Academic Regulations or contact us. This description was last updated on 8th June 2018.

Learning outcomes, teaching and assessment

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:

  • Knowledge and understanding
  • Cognitive skills
  • Practical and professional skills
  • Key skills
Read more detailed information about the learning outcomes.

Credit transfer

If you’ve successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website


On completion

On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in Philosophy, entitling you to use the letters MA (Phil) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for a degree you can qualify for a Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities (C20) after successfully completing 60 credits, or a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities (D35) with 120 credits including a postgraduate foundation module and a subject module.

Regulations

As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the qualification-specific regulations below and the academic regulations that are available on our Essential Documents website. 

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Philosophy course. Although your degree need not be in philosophy, you must have the basic skills expected of a graduate in that area. The foundation module will bring you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches, but does not offer remedial undergraduate training if your qualifications and/or experience are inadequate.

Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, accurate prose
  • read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
  • classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
  • argue logically, consistently and sceptically
  • marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

If you are in any doubt about whether you possess these skills, you should consider taking one or two of our higher level undergraduate modules in philosophy first. Our 60 credit OU level 2 module Exploring philosophy (A222), in particular, is designed to introduce standard techniques of analysis and argument, some of which will be presupposed at MA level. If you would like help to assess your preparedness you can contact us for advice or read the MA in Philosophy website.

You must commence your studies towards the MA in Philosophy with the postgraduate foundation module in philosophy and your final module must be the philosophy dissertation.

How long it takes

The minimum time to complete is two years, the maximum time to complete is ten years.

Career relevance

This qualification will provide you with a respected qualification and valuable transferable skills such as critical thinking, research skills, time management, and problem-solving that are in demand in many areas of business, government and the media. If you are considering an academic career, the MA in Philosophy is ideal preparation for further study or research at doctoral level.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.