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Studying the MA in Philosophy will hone your ability to think clearly, reason logically, and develop your essay writing, research and analytical skills. You will put forward and evaluate arguments while exploring current debates and issues in social and political philosophy – engaging with a wide range of fascinating philosophy texts and areas of contemporary philosophical enquiry. You'll begin by considering contemporary debates in philosophy on the theme of personhood, before examining issues such as citizenship, nationalism, and democracy. Finally, you'll undertake a substantial piece of independent enquiry with a dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Key features of the course
• Combines an in-depth study of philosophical texts and debates with a broad and diverse range of topics

• Examines texts by philosophers working at different times and from different perspectives

• Explores a variety of contemporary philosophical debates

• Develops valuable transferable skills that are highly prized in the workplace, including communication, problem-solving and self-management

• Excellent preparation for further study or research at doctoral level.

The learning outcomes of this qualification are described in four areas:
• Knowledge and understanding
• Cognitive skills
• Practical and professional skills
• Key skills

On completion
On successful completion of the required modules you can be awarded the Master of Arts in Philosophy, entitling you to use the letters MA (Phil) (Open) after your name. You will have the opportunity of being presented at a degree ceremony.

If you leave the programme before you qualify for a degree you can qualify for a Postgraduate Certificate in Humanities (C20) after successfully completing 60 credits including a postgraduate foundation module, or a Postgraduate Diploma in Humanities (D35) with 120 credits including a postgraduate foundation module and a subject module.

Recognition in your country
If you intend to use your Open University qualifications to seek work or undertake further study outside the UK, we recommend checking whether your intended qualification will meet local requirements for your chosen career. Read recognition in my country.

Credit transfer
If you've successfully completed some relevant postgraduate study elsewhere, you might be able to count it towards this qualification, reducing the number of modules you need to study. You should apply for credit transfer as soon as possible, before you register for your first module. For more details and an application form, visit our Credit Transfer website.

Entry requirements

You must hold a UK honours degree (or equivalent), in philosophy or a related subject. If you've got a degree conferred without honours, or that does not contain at least 20% philosophy related subjects, or with relevant experience in this field, you may still be eligible to study this qualification, subject to adjudication by the qualification team.

Although the foundation module, MA Philosophy part 1, will bring you up to date with the latest ideas and approaches, it assumes you'll have the knowledge and skills usually acquired by pursing the subject at undergraduate level. If you are in any doubt about whether you possess these skills or knowledge, you could study one of our undergraduate philosophy modules first, Exploring philosophy (A222) or Key questions in philosophy (A333), which are designed to introduce you to standard techniques of analysis and argument. You could also refer to the Preparatory reading indicated for MA Philosophy part 1.

To study successfully for this MA, you need to be able to:

•write clear, concise, accurate prose
•read large quantities of text quickly, accurately and critically
•classify evidence precisely and assess its value and reliability
•argue logically, consistently and sceptically
•marshal various sorts of evidence to support a logical argument.

If you're in any doubt about the suitability of your qualifications or previous experience, please contact us before you enrol.


2 years.

You will be able to complete this masters qualification within two years by studying one module each year.

Number of credits

180 credits

Careers or further progression

Career relevance
This qualification will provide you with a respected qualification and valuable transferable skills such as critical thinking, research skills, time management, and problem-solving that are in demand in many areas of business, government and the media. If you are considering an academic career, the MA in Philosophy is ideal preparation for further study or research at doctoral level.

Careers and Employability Services have more information on how OU study can improve your employability.

Further enquiries

Tel: (01) 678 5399
Fax: (01) 678 5442

Subjects taught


To gain the 180 credits you require for this qualification, you must study the modules in the order shown below and pass part 1 before progressing to part 2:

Compulsory modules Credits
MA Philosophy part 1 (A853) 60
MA Philosophy part 2 (A854) 120

Please note that MA Philosophy part 2 (A854) is worth 120 credits. Module fees for postgraduate modules are based on the number of credits you study. Therefore the fee for this 120-credit postgraduate module will be double that for the 60-credit postgraduate module MA Philosophy part 1 (A853).

You should note that the University's unique study rule applies to this qualification. This means that you must include at least 60 credits from OU modules that have not been counted in any other OU qualification that has previously been awarded to you.

We regularly review our curriculum; therefore, the qualification described on this page – including its availability, its structure, and available modules – may change over time.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!