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Postgraduate philosophy

Postgraduate study at the Open University is divided into our taught programme (the MA in Philosophy) and our supervised research degrees (leading to a PhD).

MA in Philosophy (taught degree)

This Master’s degree is ideal if you have done at least some philosophy in your first degree and want to take your studies to another level. It is also an ideal stepping stone towards a PhD. The MA requires more independent thinking than an undergraduate degree.

The MA programme is studied part time, and is normally completed over two years, starting in October. It consists of two parts. Part 1 is a 60 point module studied over 31 weeks. Part 2 (which includes a dissertation) is a 120 point module studied over 47 weeks.

More information, including topics covered, details of how to apply for a place, and important guidance on preparedness, can be found on the MA in Philosophy pages.

MPhil or PhD in Philosophy (research degrees)

A PhD (or ‘doctorate’) is the highest educational qualification in the English-speaking world. To achieve a PhD in Philosophy involves writing and being examined on a book-length dissertation on a subject of the candidate’s own choosing.

The writing will be supervised by an academic team (typically this will consist of one main supervisor and one secondary supervisor) with relevant expertise. Doctoral students meet regularly with their supervision team to receive support, advice and friendly criticism on drafts, and are directed in their research and their reading towards the most important and most recent work in their area of study.

Most Open University PhD students in philosophy register part-time, and are registered in the first instance for an MPhil, transferring after a couple of years (the probationary period) to the PhD programme proper. The full period of study (if part time) is usually around six years. It is an exceptional commitment.

Fuller information on the research degree programme, including pre-requisites, potential funding sources, deadlines, how to set about applying, and what topics we may be able to supervise, can be found on the Philosophy resource pages.

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