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MA in Philosophy

Studying the MA in Philosophy will develop your skills in reading and understanding philosophy texts, writing substantial essays in philosophy, and engaging with some areas of contemporary philosophical enquiry. You will hone your ability to think clearly, reason logically, and put forward and evaluate arguments, while exploring contemporary debates and issues in social and political philosophy through reading and understanding philosophy texts and completing a dissertation of your choice. Our MA will give you an excellent foundation for further study or research at doctoral level, and a respected qualification with valuable transferable skills demanded in many areas of business, government and the media.

Masters degree

Course code


  • 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.
How long it takes
3–10 years
Read more about how long it takes
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Course cost
See Fees and funding
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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Course details


For this masters degree you require:

180 credits from the following compulsory modules:

Postgraduate compulsory modules Credits Next start
Postgraduate foundation module in philosophy (A850)

Gain postgraduate-level skills in research, analysis and presentation of an argument, and explore some of the contemporary debates in philosophy on the theme of personhood.

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60 30 Jan 2016 FINAL
Issues in contemporary social and political philosophy (A851)

Building on the philosophy foundation module, explore issues going beyond simply academic philosophy – citizenship, nationalism, democracy and more – developing your critical skills in the process.

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60 30 Jan 2016
The philosophy dissertation (A857)

Complete your MA in Philosophy with a dissertation of 16,000–18,000 words, on a subject of your choice, with the aid and guidance of your tutor.

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60 06 Feb 2016

The modules quoted in this description are currently available for study. However, as we review the curriculum on a regular basis, the exact selection may change over time.

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, and how they are acquired through teaching, learning and assessment methods.

Credit transfer

If you have already completed some successful study at postgraduate level at another institution you may be able to transfer credit for this study and count it towards this Open University qualification. If you wish to apply to transfer credit you must do so as soon as possible as it may affect your choice of OU modules. If you are awarded credit for study completed elsewhere, you may find that you need to study fewer OU modules to complete your qualification with us.

Visit our Credit Transfer site for more information and details of how to apply for credit transfer.

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 including a postgraduate foundation module, or a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities (D35) with 120 credits including a postgraduate foundation module and a subject module.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the following regulations:

These regulations are also available on our Essential Documents website.

Entry requirements

You must hold an honours degree to study for our MA in Philosophy course. Your degree need not be explicitly in philosophy, but 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 for those who have an inappropriate bachelors degree or inadequate experience. Before you enter the degree you must be able to:

  • write clear, concise, grammatically correct and accurately spelt 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.

You must complete this qualification within ten years.

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.

Career relevance

Studying philosophy will hone your ability to think clearly, reason logically, and put forward and evaluate arguments. As well as developing skills in reading and understanding philosophy texts, you will be able to engage with some areas of contemporary philosophical enquiry. With an MA in Philosophy you will have an excellent foundation for further study or research at doctoral level, as well as 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.

There is more information about how OU study can improve your employability in the OU’s Employability Statement from our Careers Advisory Service. You can also read or download our publication OU study and your career and look at our subject pages to find out about career opportunities.