- Learn from a team of experts specializing in the interaction between areas like healthcare, ethics and philosophy
- Benefit from an applied approach – understand how philosophy can help us solve pressing challenges in the modern world
- Go beyond Western philosophy with a course designed to explore philosophy from a global perspective
- Build your professional experience by presenting your ideas and getting feedback at the department’s postgraduate conference
- Become confident in thinking critically and evaluating arguments – both skills valued by employers
From crippling economies to Britain’s mental health crisis, philosophy can help us unlock the answers to today’s most pressing issues. Join us to discuss and debate different topics while exploring your interests and widening your career options.
We start this course by asking a vital question – what is philosophy? You’ll explore its value, the methods used and debates within the subject. At the same time, our teaching team will discuss their fascinating research on everything from gender to feminist philosophy.
A critical part of this course is completing a dissertation. You’ll have 20,000 words to explore an area of philosophy that interests you. Whenever you need support, you’ll be able to turn to your academic supervisor.
The freedom to explore
Alongside the core module and dissertation, you’ll choose from our range of optional modules. You might look at a theoretical topic such as major debates in religious and atheistic thought or an applied area such as mental disorders. Perhaps you’ll pick our independent study module to focus on any topic that sparks your interest.
Your ability to evaluate arguments, assess evidence and think critically will be invaluable to employers. The way you look at problems through a philosophical lens will also give you an edge.
There’s no typical career path for philosophy graduates, but you won’t be short of options when you graduate thanks to your broad skillset.
You’ll finish this course with a whole spectrum of skills which will be useful across different sectors. Critical thinking is one area where you’ll excel and it’s a skill that will significantly boost your employability.
Our MA Philosophy graduates go on to secure a range of roles within diverse organisations such as:
- Organisations in the voluntary sector
- The Civil Service
- The police
Alternatively, you might decide to carry on studying with a PhD – an excellent opportunity to specialize further and make your mark in this field of research.
2:1 degree in a related subject is normally required. We will also consider applications where you have a degree in other subjects, have a 2:2 or equivalent result and/or extensive relevant experience. In these cases, you should clearly demonstrate how your experience and skills have prepared you for postgraduate study.
If you have studied outside of the UK, we would advise you to check our list of international qualifications before submitting your application.
English Language Requirements
We may ask you to provide a recognised English language qualification, dependent upon your nationality and where you have studied previously.
We normally require an IELTS (Academic) Test with an overall score of at least 6.5, and a minimum of 5.5 in each element of the test. We also consider other English language qualifications.
If your score is below our requirements, you may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language programmes.
Contact: Admissions Team +44 (0) 1524 592032 or email email@example.com
You will study a range of modules as part of your course, some examples of which are listed below.
The module involves the negotiation, design and delivery of a research project whose precise topic will be determined by the student and the project supervisor.
The dissertation will be up to 20,000 words in length. The process of producing it is designed to provide students with the opportunity to consolidate their existing knowledge and skills base while developing new knowledge and skills made possible by its project-orientated nature.
Theory and Methods in Postgraduate Studies
This module serves to consolidate postgraduate research and learning support by enabling students to engage with theories, methods, and skills relevant to your studies. The module is core for all PPR PGT politics students and complements core subject and discipline-specific provision in religious studies and philosophy. Through this module we aim to equip you with the ability to reflect upon the processes and implications of research project planning, design and execution in Politics, Philosophy and/or Religion.
The first part of the module examines the principles of research, including different disciplinary traditions of knowledge production. It goes on to set out the process of structuring a research project and explores how to develop and apply theory. The second part of the module examines a range of methods for conducting research, including interviews, surveys, and case studies. The final section covers questions of ethics and goes through how to write up and present research. Through the module, students will design research projects, develop writing and critical evaluation skills, and have the opportunity to present their research ideas as part of the annual MA conference. The module involves a combination of lectures, small group discussion, and presentations covering the following areas:
- The academic research process.
- Project planning, design and process management.
- Ethics in postgraduate research.
- Resource identification and review processes.
- Data acquisition techniques and issues.
- Analytical and interpretative approaches.
- Academic conventions (e.g. making an argument, writing, referencing).
Assessment is by 5,000 word research proposal.
What is Philosophy? Methods, Aims, Debates
Philosophy is a various, contested, self-reflective discipline. It includes many different areas, questions, and approaches to answering them. Metaphysics, ethics, political philosophy, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and aesthetics are just some of the more obvious areas. Philosophers at Lancaster investigate questions about the nature of mental illness, free will, the self, the ethics of new medical technologies, Romantic thought, the emotions, autonomy, and many other topics. Our approaches range across critical reading of historical texts, engagement with special sciences including biology and psychology, conceptual analysis, literary studies, phenomenology, and more.
The aim of this module is to use guided practice in doing philosophy, and in thinking about what we’re doing, to develop the skills and virtues of a postgraduate-level philosopher. We pursue this aim in three strands:
(1) Presentations from philosophy staff on their research work, followed by discussion, to offer a tasting menu of some of the varied questions and approaches in contemporary professional philosophy as done here at Lancaster
(2) Reading and guided discussion of an important text or texts in one or more contemporary sub-disciplines of philosophy
(3) Reflective practice in central philosophical styles of skilled reading, writing, research, discussion, and presentation.
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Feminist Philosophy (Special Subject)
This special subject focuses on feminist philosophy, aiming to take the participants’ knowledge of feminist philosophy and skills in philosophizing to advanced levels, led by a tutor who has an active research interest in the topic.
Future Generations (Special Subject)
What moral obligations do we have towards future generations – to people who are yet to be born, and to merely possible people whose very existence (or non-existence) depends on how we act now? This special subject explores this question by examining both a series of practical case studies and some of the main concepts and theories that philosophers use when thinking about these issues. Questions considered normally include:
- How should we weigh quality against quantity of life? Would a world with a relatively small number of ‘happier’ people preferable to one with many more ‘less happy’ ones?
- Ought we to try significantly to extend the human life span (to 150 years or beyond)?
- Should cryonics be permitted and what ethical issues does this raise?
- Is there a moral obligation to refrain from having children (e.g. for environmental reasons) and what measures may governments take to encourage or enforce population control? Conversely, might there be a moral obligation to have (more) children?
- Should we use selection techniques to minimise the incidence of genetic disorders and disabilities in future populations?
- Should parents be allowed to use these techniques to determine the characteristics of their future children (e.g. choosing their child’s eye or hair colour, or sex selection)?
- When considering the future, how should the interests of non-human creatures be weighed against those of humans? How strong are our moral obligations to prevent extinctions, and to preserve wildernesses?
- When considering long-term environmental issues (e.g. climate change, nuclear power) and long-term financial issues (e.g. national debt and pensions) how should we balance the interests and rights of people who exist now against those of future people?
Independent Study Module
An Independent Study module allows you to undertake a focussed and self-directed study of your own choice of topic in philosophy, guided by a tutor with relevant expertise and research interests. Teaching consists of one-on-one tutorials, and contact hours are five hours of meetings, to be arranged between you and your supervisor over the term. You can take an independent study module in philosophy in Michaelmas and/or Lent, up to a maximum of two.
The subject-specialist tutor who supervises the student will:
- help to shape and focus the research project
- give guidance on the professional literature, and on the nature, format, and planning of the essay
- discuss the developing content of the essay
- give feedback on at least one draft
- if possible, suggest appropriate undergraduate modules which the student could audit in support of their research
Independent study requires intellectual maturity and self-direction from the student. The student will:
- work with the supervisor to shape and focus the research project
- seek out, read, and engage argumentatively with relevant disciplinary literature
- write, share, and discuss draft work towards the assessment
- engage with the supervision process
Assessment is by 5,000 word essay.
Philosophy of mental disorder
This module will involve an in depth study of a number of contemporary debates in the philosophy of mental disorder. Topics will include the following:
What is mental disorder? Students will be introduced to some of the key accounts of mental disorder: What is the relationship between evolutionary dysfunction and disorder? Are disorders necessarily harmful?
- Antipsychiatry/ postpsychiatry - The antipsychiatrists (and more recently postpsychiatrists) argue that the very concept of mental disorder is dubious. Are mental disorders substantially like physical disorders? Or, do diagnoses of "mental disorder" simply label behaviour that is unusual, socially stigmatised, or bad?
- Conceptualising cultural variations - Do mental disorders vary from culture to culture? Would cultural variation mean that a disorder is less "real"?
- Realism and constructionism about mental disorder - What does it mean to say that a disorder is real or constructed?
- Meaning and the limits of reduction - Can symptoms be reduced to faulty brain states? Or, do symptoms such as "delusion" resist reduction?
Responsibility and disorder - Are those with
Politics and Ethics in Indian Philosophy
This module will look at Indian source texts on politics and ethics. In particular, it will be looking at sources that explore the concept of dharma, a term that incorporates issues of justice, religion, ethics, duty, and law. The module will examine the sources of dharma both in their own historical and cultural contexts, as well as in the context of contemporary debates in political theory and ethics. The texts examined will include: the inscriptions of Ashoka, the Buddhist Nikayas, the Arthashastra, the Law Codes of Manu, the Mahabharata, and the Kamasutra. These sources are examined in connection with modern political figures, such as Gandhi and Savarkar, as well as in connection with recent debates in India about secularism, democracy and pluralism.
Seminar in Moral, Political, and Social Philosophy
The aim of this module is to enable you to develop the skills and virtues of a postgraduate-level philosopher and scholar of philosophy, by guided practice in close reading and reasoned discussion of selected works in moral, political, and social philosophy.
Typically, this module runs as a reading group, where we aim to focus on a small number of high-quality texts that are usually chosen in consultation between the convenor and the group of students taking it each year. In the past, the seminar format has featured a moderated discussion of set reading that has been introduced by a student presentation or by the convenor. Assessment will be by 5,000-word essay on a topic of your choosing, developed in consultation with the convenor.
‘Moral, political, and social philosophy’ will be understood broadly, to cover historical and contemporary philosophical work on a range of topics which may include: modernity, capitalism, liberalism, and alternative possibilities; the nature of human rights; individuality, community, and cultural difference; political authority and the authority of law; nationhood, borders, and cosmopolitanism; human wellbeing; freedom and global unfreedoms; equality and global inequalities; utilitarian, deontological, and virtue ethics; the natures of value, of agency, and of practical rationality.
Information contained on the website with respect to modules is correct at the time of publication, but changes may be necessary, for example as a result of student feedback, Professional Statutory and Regulatory Bodies' (PSRB) requirements, staff changes, and new research. Not all optional modules are available every year.
Fees and Funding
We set our fees on an annual basis and the 2024/25 entry fees have not yet been set.
There may be extra costs related to your course for items such as books, stationery, printing, photocopying, binding and general subsistence on trips and visits. Following graduation, you may need to pay a subscription to a professional body for some chosen careers.
Specific additional costs for studying at Lancaster are listed below.
Lancaster is proud to be one of only a handful of UK universities to have a collegiate system. Every student belongs to a college, and all students pay a small College Membership Fee which supports the running of college events and activities.
For students starting in 2023, the fee is £40 for undergraduates and research students and £15 for students on one-year courses. Fees for students starting in 2024 have not yet been set.
Computer equipment and internet access
To support your studies, you will also require access to a computer, along with reliable internet access. You will be able to access a range of software and services from a Windows, Mac, Chromebook or Linux device. For certain degree programmes, you may need a specific device, or we may provide you with a laptop and appropriate software - details of which will be available on relevant programme pages. A dedicated IT support helpdesk is available in the event of any problems.
The University provides limited financial support to assist students who do not have the required IT equipment or broadband support in place.
Application fees and tuition fee deposits
For most taught postgraduate applications there is a non-refundable application fee of £40. We cannot consider applications until this fee has been paid, as advised on our online secure payment system. There is no application fee for postgraduate research applications.
For some of our courses you will need to pay a deposit to accept your offer and secure your place. We will let you know in your offer letter if a deposit is required and you will be given a deadline date when this is due to be paid.
Fees in subsequent years
If you are studying on a programme of more than one year’s duration, the tuition fees for subsequent years of your programme are likely to increase each year. Read more about fees in subsequent years.
Scholarships and Bursaries
Details of our scholarships and bursaries for 2024-entry study are not yet available, but you can use our opportunities for 2023-entry applicants as guidance.
Check our current list of scholarships and bursaries.
The information on this site relates primarily to 2023/2024 entry to the University and every effort has been taken to ensure the information is correct at the time of publication.
The University will use all reasonable effort to deliver the courses as described, but the University reserves the right to make changes to advertised courses. In exceptional circumstances that are beyond the University’s reasonable control (Force Majeure Events), we may need to amend the programmes and provision advertised. In this event, the University will take reasonable steps to minimise the disruption to your studies. If a course is withdrawn or if there are any fundamental changes to your course, we will give you reasonable notice and you will be entitled to request that you are considered for an alternative course or withdraw your application. You are advised to revisit our website for up-to-date course information before you submit your application.
More information on limits to the University’s liability can be found in our legal information.
Our Students’ Charter
We believe in the importance of a strong and productive partnership between our students and staff. In order to ensure your time at Lancaster is a positive experience we have worked with the Students’ Union to articulate this relationship and the standards to which the University and its students aspire. View our Charter and other policies.