Postgraduate Course

MA Philosophy

MA Philosophy

Overview

The details
Philosophy
October 2020
Full-time
1 year
Colchester Campus

Philosophy at Essex takes philosophy back to its roots in everyday existential, social and political issues. Our radical approach cuts across traditional boundaries, fostering dialogue between different schools and disciplines, and we are one of the few universities in the world that bridges the divide between the two great traditions of Analytic and Continental philosophy.

Our MA Philosophy will provide you with a rigorous grounding in modern and contemporary European philosophy. We have leading expertise in critical theory, phenomenology, German Idealism, nineteenth Century German philosophy, aesthetics, existentialism, contemporary French philosophy, philosophy and psychoanalysis, and medical humanities.

You study modules of your choice, develop your research, writing, and employability skills through an intensive Writing Workshop, and prepare an MA dissertation in your chosen area of research.

Our department has been ranked in the Top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014).

As an alternative to our more flexible MA Philosophy, you can focus your study on a more specific area by following one of the following pathways:

MA Philosophy (Continental Philosophy Pathway)

All of our academic staff work on Continental Philosophy, including classical German philosophy (Kant and German Idealism), Frankfurt School Critical Theory (Adorno, Habermas, Honneth), nineteenth-century philosophy (Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche), and phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty).

On this pathway you choose from a range of specified topics in these areas, in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Continental Philosophy.

MA Philosophy (Critical Social Theory Pathway)

We are the leading centre for Critical Social Theory in the UK with five members of academic staff working on the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Habermas, Honneth), contemporary French thought (Derrida, Foucault, Rancière) and issues in Critical Social Theory, such as activist political theory, theory of recognition, aesthetics and politics, deliberative democracy, and the moral limits of markets.

On this pathway you study modules on the Frankfurt School and Contemporary Critical Theory, in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Critical Social Theory.

MA Philosophy (Philosophy and Art History Pathway)

Drawing on the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach of the School, our new Philosophy and Art History pathway enables students to get a thorough grounding in philosophical aesthetics. You explore issues in aesthetics and their bearing on other areas of philosophy (such as critical theory or existentialism) and Art History (such as aesthetic practices and curating), and profit from the wide-ranging expertise of our staff in both disciplines.

On this pathway you study modules on Philosophy/Aesthetics and Art History (dealing, for example, with Art & Politics, Art, Architecture and Urbanism, or Art, Science & Knowledge), in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Philosophy and Art History.

Why we're great.
  • We are world-renowned for our combination of Continental and Anglo-American philosophy
  • Tailor your course to focus on continental philosophy, critical social theory, psychoanalysis, or art history
  • We are top 20 in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities, THE 2014)
THE Awards 2018 - Winner University of the Year

Our expert staff

Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), which puts us fifth in the UK for research outputs.

Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.

Recent projects and publications include:

  • Béatrice Han-Pile and Dan Watts’ major new research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today
  • The Essex Autonomy Project, a major interdisciplinary project funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), which aims to investigate the role of autonomous judgment in many aspects of human life
  • Peter Dews’ The Idea of Evil, Polity, 2007
  • Béatrice Han-Pile, Foucault’s Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical, Stanford University Press, 2002
  • Fiona Hughes, Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement: A Reader’s Guide, Edinburgh University Press, 2007.
  • Wayne Martin, Theories of Judgement: Psychology, Logic, Phenomenology, Cambridge University Press, 2006
  • Irene McMullin’s Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations, Northwestern University Press, 2013
  • Fabian Freyenhagen’s Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Specialist facilities

  • Graduate students have access to desk space in the School and many students work there on a daily basis
  • A dedicated German-language course for graduate students in philosophy
  • Attend our Critical Theory Colloquium
  • Attend the Werkstatt, where recent work on phenomenology is presented
  • An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
  • Access a variety of philosophy textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library and in our departmental library

Your future

Many of our philosophy graduates embark on doctoral study after finishing their MA. We offer supervision for PhDs in a range of fields including:

  • Continental philosophy
  • Critical Social Theory
  • History of philosophy
  • Applied ethics

Our graduates have also gone into careers in law, the media, local administration, HM Revenue and Customs, and top jobs in the Civil Service.

We work with the university’s Careers Services to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Entry requirements

UK entry requirements

A Degree with an overall 2.2 in Philosophy or a related subject such as: Archaeology, Anthropology, Art History, History, Law, Literature, Politics, Sociology or foreign languages with literature components.

Applicants will be asked to provide a sample of written work

International & EU entry requirements

We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.

Sorry, the entry requirements for the country that you have selected are not available here. Please select your country page where you'll find this information.

English language requirements

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Structure

Example structure

Most of our courses combine compulsory and optional modules, giving you freedom to pursue your own interests. All of the modules listed below provide an example of what is on offer from the current academic year. Our Programme Specification provides further details of the course structure for the current academic year.

Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field, therefore to ensure your course is as relevant and up-to-date as possible your core module structure may be subject to change.

The example structure below is representative of this course if taken full-time. If you choose to study part-time, the modules will be split across 2 years.

Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason initiates a new 'critical' method in philosophy which has been highly influential in both continental and analytic philosophy. His critical method establishes a new way of thinking about the relation in which we stand to the world, and the role played by knowledge and judgement within that world.

View Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Kierkegaard (optional)

Are some things beyond the limits of thought or human understanding? Are some insights ineffable or inexpressible? Is it self-contradictory to suppose that there are? Our aim in this module is to take up these questions through close readings of Kierkegaard, whose enigmatic works famously entertain such notions as 'the absurd', 'the incomprehensible' and 'the Absolute Paradox'.

View Kierkegaard (optional) on our Module Directory

Contemporary Critical Theory (optional)

According to thinkers of the ‘Frankfurt School’, modern society has become dominated by ‘instrumental rationality’, which prioritizes technical efficiency at the expense of reflection on the goals and values guiding human nature. But how do we justify critique if we assume there are no social relationships which have not been contaminated by it? And how do we prevent our vision of an alternative kind of society from being implausibly utopian, or even authoritarian? We explore these question by looking at the work of Theodore Adorno, Jürgen Habermas, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Rancière.

View Contemporary Critical Theory (optional) on our Module Directory

Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional)

This module examines the manner in which Martin Heidegger's Being and Time makes use of phenomenological methodology to address existential questions. We will discuss central themes such as being-in-the-world, anxiety, authenticity, and temporality - while focusing in particular on how to understand the individual's relationship to the public norms and practices through which she understands herself.

View Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional) on our Module Directory

MA Writing Workshop (optional)

This module provides intensive training in postgraduate-level writing and research. Each week you read something about the practice of philosophical writing, you receive an exercise designed to put what you’ve learned into practice, and you get feedback on that exercise from your writing tutor or peers or both. We explore all the core aspects of philosophical writing—style, the creative and critical phases of writing, argument reconstruction, dialectical strategies, types of analytical essays, and more. This module will not add significantly to your philosophical workload; the assignments, rather, are designed to scaffold the process of producing two postgraduate-level essays. In other words, the module aims to help you develop your skills as a writer and researcher, as you make progress on your work for other modules. Interested students are also encouraged to use this module to develop PhD applications and funding proposals.

View MA Writing Workshop (optional) on our Module Directory

The Frankfurt School (optional)

Discover what is probably the most influential and significant tradition of critical social philosophy to have emerged within twentieth-century European philosophy: The Frankfurt School. The module takes either the form of concentrating on some of the leading figures (such as Adorno and Horkheimer, or Habermas, or Honneth), or focusing on specific themes such as reification, social pathology, progress or freedom. The exact focus will vary from year to year.

View The Frankfurt School (optional) on our Module Directory

Philosophy and Aesthetics (optional)

This module is dedicated to the theoretical reflection on aesthetic practices and objects and their history (from artworks to the aesthetic strategies of protest movements). It also reflects on the distinctive experiences that are involved in relating aesthetically to one's life, social world, or art. The module examines why aesthetic practices and experiences play such a central role in continental thought from Kant and Hegel to Adorno and Rancière. This Autumn term, among the questions to be discussed will be the following: How to conceive of the relationship between art/aesthetics and politics? How can one tell apart progressive/emancipatory aesthetic-political strategies from regressive ones (such as Nazi and Stalinist aesthetics)? What are the aesthetic-political strategies deployed by political activists and how do they work? In what sense can aesthetic practices and experiences (and the theoretical reflection on them) be critical? Are aesthetic practices part and parcel of political freedom? Is there such a thing as a democratic or totalitarian aesthetic? What is the role and place of aesthetics in democratic life?

View Philosophy and Aesthetics (optional) on our Module Directory

Dissertation: Continental Philosophy (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a 10,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic.

View Dissertation: Continental Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Dissertation: Critical Social Theory (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a 10,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic.

View Dissertation: Critical Social Theory (optional) on our Module Directory

Dissertation: MA Philosophy (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a 10,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic.

View Dissertation: MA Philosophy (optional) on our Module Directory

Dissertation: Philosophy and Art History (optional)

Develop your research and written skills through writing a 10,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic.

View Dissertation: Philosophy and Art History (optional) on our Module Directory

Teaching

  • Your modules, followed during the autumn and spring terms, generally consist of two-hour seminars
  • Modules include introductions to the topic by your tutor, presentations by you and discussions based on a programme of reading
  • We host annual mini-courses in areas of philosophy, given by visiting speakers of international reputation, which are specifically designed for our postgraduates
  • We run a number of mini-courses, seminars and conferences that our postgraduates are encouraged to attend

Assessment

  • Assessment is normally on the basis of coursework and your supervised dissertation.

Dissertation

  • Your dissertation allows you to focus in depth on your chosen topic from April onwards. This enables you to gain an in depth knowledge of an area that interests you

Fees and funding

Home/EU fee

£8,340

International fee

£17,900

Fees will increase for each academic year of study.

What's next

Open Days

We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:

  • tour our campus and accommodation
  • find out answers to your questions about our courses, student finance, graduate employability, student support and more
  • meet our students and staff

If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing tours@essex.ac.uk and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.

2020 Open Days (Colchester Campus)

  • Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Applying

You can apply for our postgraduate courses online. You’ll need to provide us with your academic qualifications, as well as supporting documents such as transcripts, English language qualifications and certificates. You can find a list of necessary documents online, but please note we won’t be able to process your application until we have everything we need.

There is no application deadline but we recommend that you apply before 1 July for our taught courses starting in October. We aim to respond to applications within two weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.

If you are applying to a masters course in Philosophy you must provide a piece of critical academic writing (2,500 words) on a topic relevant to your application.

Colchester Campus

Visit Colchester Campus

Home to over 13,000 students from more than 130 countries, our Colchester Campus is the largest of our three sites, making us one of the most internationally diverse campuses on the planet - we like to think of ourselves as the world in one place.

The Campus is set within 200 acres of beautiful parkland, located two miles from the historic town centre of Colchester – England's oldest recorded town. Our Colchester Campus is also easily reached from London and Stansted Airport in under one hour.

 

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