The Queen’s MA in Philosophy is a pluralist programme that recognises and values diverse philosophical methods, histories, and scholarly approaches, while providing students with a strong grounding in core areas of philosophy. The student experience is that of a generalist MA programme informed by an inclusive approach to disciplinary history and by engagement with twenty-first century issues and debates. Students will explore historical and contemporary debates, solve abstract and concrete problems, and respond to fundamental and applied questions.

Students will learn with internationally recognised leaders in philosophical research. Our staff have strengths in ethics and epistemology, as well as philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, philosophy of technology, political philosophy, and post-Kantian European philosophy. There is growing expertise in comparative and diverse global philosophical traditions. Research-led teaching brings students into the middle of cutting-edge research as active participants, and our dynamic research community offers multiple opportunities for students to pursue meaningful research experiences.

MA in Philosophy students have opportunities to personalise their education, through the Dissertation and the Individually Negotiated Topic module. With guidance from the supervisor, students can choose a topic that interests them for directed critical reading and analysis with a small, focussed group. Students also benefit from a wide range of interdisciplinary opportunities within the School and the Faculty of AHSS, along with the excellent postgraduate experience infrastructure at Queen’s. Students may opt to complete the Queen’s Certificate in Strategic Leadership

Philosophy at QUB is a supportive and highly research active unit—ranked joint first in the UK for Research Intensity (Complete University Guide 2022). Our programme size and location within the interdisciplinary school of HAPP means that our students’ work can receive significant individual attention, that our students can build highly productive working relationships with teaching staff from Philosophy, and that our students may also explore interdisciplinary learning and research opportunities complementing their core philosophical interests.

Learning and Teaching
Teaching and learning focuses upon critical reading, writing, and thinking. Weekly module seminars are grounded in small and large group discussion, presentations, and learning activities.

Additional learning opportunities are provided by weekly research seminars in term time given by visiting speakers in Philosophy, as well as research events in HAPP and beyond.

Learning materials focus upon texts, and may also include films, blogs, and podcasts. Learning materials and issues will be drawn from a range of scholarly traditions and geographic locations.

On successful completion of the course, students will be able to -

Cognitive Skills
• Identify and solve, resolve or dissolve conceptual problems; read and critically assess relevant academic sources; analyse and criticise arguments, identifying fallacies therein.

• Synthesise relevant information and exercise critical judgement, primarily through essay writing; identify, investigate, analyse, formulate and advocate solutions to problems; gather, organise and deploy evidence and information from a variety of secondary and some primary sources, so as to formulate and support a line of reasoning, or argument.

• Make judgments on the basis of varied and problematic evidence and according to the persuasiveness of the arguments or the reliability of the evidence used; evaluate sources critically in their context; discriminate between what is central and what is peripheral to the issue in question; assess and appraise differing views on significant areas of academic debate.

• Structure, manage and adapt strategies for self-directed independent research; work autonomously; reflect on their own learning and seek and make use of constructive feedback; produce intellectually coherent academic analysis under time-managed conditions and within word limits.

Knowledge and Understanding
• Demonstrate advanced knowledge of a range of sub-fields in the discipline including ethics, epistemology, philosophy of science, political philosophy, and history of philosophy.

• Apply philosophy to practical issues, for example in the area of applied ethics.

• Critically discuss some of the central problems and issues in contemporary philosophy.

• Critically discuss key texts and ideas in the global history of philosophy, along with an appreciation of the plurality of global traditions and histories of philosophy and how the contemporary discipline has developed out of those histories.

• Employ key concepts and tools that are used in philosophical
reasoning, with an informed understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of multiple approaches and methodologies.

Subject Specific Skills
• Read and interact with seminal philosophical texts, in appreciation of their philosophical insights and modes of argument; research philosophical topics using appropriate tools and resources.

• Solve problems, process and prioritize a wide variety of information, and express arguments and positions in oral and written form.

• Demonstrate an awareness of key debates arising out of philosophical inquiry, conducted in its various domains.

• Engage with influential primary and secondary sources in philosophy, according to contemporary canons of academic debate and critical analysis.

Transferable Skills
• Use libraries and online resources; use IT skills (word processing, use of internet re-sources); take notes and summarise accurately and effectively.

• Evaluate and judge evidence and the quality of information; digest material from various sources; collate and process information from an array of sources, including electronic media.

• Communicate and interact effectively; present ideas and arguments orally in both formal and informal contexts; present high-quality analysis cogently and succinctly; and make oral and group presentations using appropriate skills.

• Respond constructively to criticism; manage time efficiently; show self-reliance, initiative, adaptability and flexibility; work effectively both independently and in a team setting.

Subjects taught

Course Structure
Compulsory modules: HAP7001 research methods (20cr); PHLXXXX Applied Philosophy (20cr) (Autumn)

Elective Modules: One from a choice of PHL70XX Global Histories of Philosophy (new); PHL70XX Philosophies of Habit and Addiction (new) (Autumn); Three from a choice of PHL7038 Philosophy of Conflict and War; PHL7057 Social Injustice; PHL70XX Ethics, Law, and Responsibility (new); PHL70XX Knowledge and Ignorance (new); PHL70XX Individually Negotiated Topic (new) (Spring)

Dissertation (60cr) (Summer).

Autumn semester
• HAP7001 Approaches to Research Design
• PHL70XX Applied Philosophy (new)
• Students will also choose one from the following Modules:
• PHL70XX Global Histories of Philosophy (new)
• PHL70XX Philosophies of Habit and Addiction (new)

Spring semester
• Students must take THREE of the following modules:
• PHL7038 Philosophy of Conflict and War
• PHL7057 Social Injustice
• PHL70XX Ethics, Law, and Responsibility (new)
• PHL70XX Knowledge and Ignorance (new)
• PHL70XX Individually Negotiated Topic (new)

Summer semester
• PHL70XX Dissertation

1. HAP7001 Research Methods: This module is offered to all HAPP PGR students. It introduces some important themes in the philosophy of the social sciences, develops students' skills in research design through an examination of selected qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, addressing key issues in the design and preparation of the dissertation, and incorporates research ethics training.

2. PHL70XX Applied Philosophy: Our Philosophy cohort-building module in applied philosophy develops students’ philosophical methods skills through introducing current social epistemological, metaphysical, ethical, and political issues in e.g. biomedical, environmental, and information technological contexts, combining study of advanced theory with current case information. Staff will lead the module in two-week rotations, to enable students to get to know the staff, and to build community amongst staff and each cohort of students.

3. PHL 70XX Philosophy Dissertation: The research and writing of a 15,000-word dissertation on any chosen aspect of Philosophy. Submission date 15th September. Students are allocated an individual supervisor, with whom they work closely throughout the research, drafting and writing of their dissertation. The skills required for ongoing research, organisation of a thesis and professional writing and presentation of a dissertation are all acquired, and monitored, through liaison with the supervisor.

Optional modules
1. PHL7057 Social Injustice: This module examines the problem of social injustice in contemporary, plural societies. The module explores key critiques of liberal theory as a response to the structural disadvantages associated with difference (including race, gender, sexual-orientation, religion, and class, among others), liberal policy approaches to difference (including toleration, uniform treatment, and non-discrimination), and the practical implications of both social injustice and its potential solutions.

2. PHL7038 Philosophy of Conflict and War: This module explores the moral and ethical questions posed by serious political conflict, in particular those posed by war and other forms of violent collective struggle.

3. PHL70XX Ethics, Law, and Responsibility (new): This module focuses on the theme of responsibility to engage fundamental issues in ethics and the philosophy of law, combining real-world examples with ethics and jurisprudence scholarship.

4. PHL70XX Global Histories of Philosophy (new): This module shows how historical texts within specific philosophical traditions (such as African or Indian philosophical traditions) or in comparison across diverse traditions (e.g. African, Caribbean, and Latin American philosophy, or Post-Kantian European and African philosophy) help us to engage with contemporary issues in social epistemology, social metaphysics, ethics, and politics.

5. PHL70XX Knowledge and Ignorance (new): This module explores the ways questions of knowledge and ignorance shape our social world, for better and worse. Likely topics include, but are not limited to: legal epistemology, statistical evidence use, how predictive policing algorithms can be judged to be biased, how epistemic injustice wrongs knowers, and other topics in social epistemology.

6. PHL70XX Philosophies of Habit and Addiction: This module addresses habit as an issue in the philosophy of mind, psychology and the neurosciences. It takes a historical approach by examining different philosophies of habit in 18th-century Scottish philosophy (principally in the work of Hume and Reid) and 19th-century French philosophy (principally in the work of Ravaisson and Bergson). Students will then engage with accounts of habit in the contemporary neurosciences and with phenomenological approaches (principally in the work of Merleau-Ponty and Ricoeur). The module will show how conceptions of habit involve different conceptions of what it is to be embodied and, ultimately, different philosophies of nature in general. The module will also address the impact of different conceptions of habit for our understanding of the nature of the particular form of habit that is addiction, which is a pressing contemporary social problem.

7. PHL70XX Individually Negotiated Topic (new): Like the existing History MA Individually Negotiated Topic module, this module enables students to further personalize their MA experience by working individually with a researcher or in a small study group of up to 3 students to develop knowledge and expertise in a very focused area of philosophy research. Students can thus explore topics not covered by existing modules, as a complement to, or preparation for, dissertation work.

Entry requirements

Normally a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in a Social Sciences, Humanities or Arts subject, or a 2.1 Honours degree or above, or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University in any subject with relevant professional experience.

The University's Recognition of Prior Learning Policy provides guidance on the assessment of experiential learning (RPEL). For more information, please visit

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 11th August 2023 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

International Students
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.0, with not less than 5.5 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required. *Taken within the last 2 years.

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
• Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level

• Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

Application dates

Applicants are advised to apply as early as possible and ideally no later than 31st July 2023 for courses which commence in late September. In the event that any programme receives a high number of applications, the University reserves the right to close the application portal. Notifications to this effect will appear on the Direct Application Portal against the programme application page.

How to Apply
Applications should be submitted online via the Postgraduate Applications Portal for admission to the vast majority of postgraduate programmes.

New applicants will need to register via the Portal to create an application account. If you are already a Queen’s student with an active Qsis account, you can log in using your student number and Qsis password. Guidance on how to complete an application is provided within the Portal and it is possible to save application data and return to complete it at a later date, if you wish. After core details about yourself and your academic background have been provided, you can submit an application, or multiple applications, if required.

If you applied in a previous cycle through the Portal and are re-applying, you should use your previous log in details. Please review and update your personal and contact details, academic and professional qualifications before submitting a new application.

Important – please ensure that the email address you provide is correct and active, as this will be used by us to communicate the progress of your application to you.

Applications for this course received after 12th August 2023 may not be accepted. In addition, a deposit will be required to secure a place.


1 year (Full Time).

Teaching Times
Teaching times will fall Monday-Friday, between 9am and 5pm.

Enrolment dates

Entry Year: 2023

Post Course Info

Career Prospects
We anticipate that the MA programme is a perfect one-year course to prepare students for PhD entry. The applied and engaged philosophy emphasis is attractive to students with interests in social justice and policy careers, as well as those interested in academic and academic-related careers.

The programme will assist students in gaining wider skills which will be vital in their future careers, including:

• Excellent training in critical thinking, critical reading, critical writing

• Research and publication skills

• Understanding and responding to equality, diversity, and inclusion issues in applied contexts

• Project management: planning and executing components of a long-term project

Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award for extra-curricular skills
In addition to your degree programme, at Queen's you can have the opportunity to gain wider life, academic and employability skills. For example, placements, voluntary work, clubs, societies, sports and lots more. So not only do you graduate with a degree recognised from a world leading university, you'll have practical national and international experience plus a wider exposure to life overall. We call this Graduate Plus/Future Ready Award. It's what makes studying at Queen's University Belfast special.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters at UK Level 7

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider