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Teaching style and programme structure

Our teaching and research

The information below relates to the three taught MA programmes in our department. For detail on the MPhil, please read the MPhil course description on our Postgraduate Research pages; however, if you are interested in following the MPhil, some of the information below may be useful as you will be able to audit MA modules as part of your first MPhil year.

How you'll study

The MA in Philosophy and the MA in Continental Philosophy have a similar structure, meaning that you will follow a programme of taught modules making up 120 CATS (academic credits), followed by a 10,000 word dissertation worth 60 CATS. The modules are worth 20 CATS each, so you will study 6 modules. The MA in Philosophy and the Arts modules are 30 CATS (requiring 50% longer essays), so you will take only four modules before proceeding to the dissertation. This MA is unusual in that it also offers a non-dissertation route. Students choosing this route take a further two modules of 30 CATS instead of the dissertation. Your exact pathway will depend on the programme you choose and your selection of optional modules. Philosophy modules are assessed through essay coursework.

We offer a wide range of optional modules reflecting the great breadth of research areas we have in our department. So, beyond any core modules your course may have, you will be able to tailor your course to your interests and aspirations. The next pages describe the modules available currently across our MA courses. You will have a personal tutor who will be able to advise you on your academic progress as well as discuss aspects such as which modules are best for you.

Mode of study – duration and timing

You can study our MA programmes full-time over 12 months, or part-time over a period of 24 months. Courses begin in October each year. Full-time students will undertake taught modules and submit assessed essays for these during the academic terms. You will also begin planning your dissertation and generally you will undertake your supervision sessions for this with your agreed supervisor during the summer term.

As long as you pass your taught components, you will then focus on completion of your MA dissertation in the summer months of July and August. If you study part time then you will study your taught modules over two years, with teaching taking place during the academic terms. The order in which you study your modules will be agreed following discussion with your course convenor. You will also begin planning your dissertation in your second year.


As long as you pass the taught part of your course, taught MA students will go on to write a dissertation of 10,000 words. Your topic and title will be agreed in discussion with your supervisor. This is a chance to undertake original independent research, allowing you to focus in depth on an area of your choice, developing a coherent and sustained argument and discussion over an extended word count. You will receive support in your dissertation through meetings with your supervisor. You will also be prepared through research skills sessions and specific sessions on essay writing and dissertation planning and writing throughout your course.

From the start of your course, you will begin considering possible dissertation topics and you will look to confirm a supervisor for your dissertation by the end of spring term. Part-time students will confirm a supervisor for their dissertation by the end of the autumn term in their second year.
You will be assigned a dissertation supervisor who has the appropriate expertise in the area and, in the case of joint degrees, you may approach colleagues in
the partner department after consultation with one of your course convenors.