The MA (Hons) in Philosophy will familiarise you with the views put forward by the principal figures of the philosophical tradition. It will also provide you with the means of rationally and independently assessing arguments. Studying Philosophy is about acquiring skills of criticism and analysis, of clear thinking and principled debate.
During your studies, you will explore some of the oldest and most complex questions asked by human beings from Greek antiquity to the present day. For example: what differentiates truth from falsehood, and reality from appearance? Are we really free in our decisions and actions, or is freedom an illusion? Are moral values objective, and if so in what sense? What justifies some in exercising power over others?
More information for 2020 entry will be available in September 2019. For information on the current year of entry for this course see the 2019 page.
These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.
Standard entry grades: AAAB
Minimum entry grades: AABB
Gateway entry grades: BBBB
Standard entry grades: AAB
Minimum entry grades: ABB
Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)
We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.
For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject specific entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.
If English is not your first language you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English Language qualification.
No previous knowledge of this subject is required.
Faculty entry requirements
You must also meet the Faculty of Arts minimum qualifications. These vary depending on which qualifications you hold.
SQA National 5 (B) or equivalent in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
GCSE (B or 5) in English, English Language or English Literature, and one GCSE (B or 5) from the following:
Computing Science or equivalent
Passes in other examinations at equivalent levels and subjects may be accepted by the Dean of the Faculty. More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.
St Andrews students meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.
The University of St Andrews as a whole was voted top in the UK for student academic experience in The National Student Survey 2018 as 94% of St Andrews final year students gave the University top marks for the quality of the learning and teaching experience.
The University has secured a TEF Gold Award for the quality of teaching and the undergraduate experience.
Training in the sort of precise and effective reading, and clear thinking and writing, required for all philosophical study, makes a good preparation for many careers. The critical thinking developed by the study of philosophy is highly valued by many employers.
Recent Philosophy graduates have entered careers in:
non-profit organisations (including Oxfam and Charityworks)
retail area management
government organisations (including the NHS)
Some graduates have also decided to pursue academic careers, either in philosophy or in other fields.
Many Philosophy graduates go on to study in other areas, for example, law conversion courses, and teacher training.
A significant number have gone on to pursue academic careers by enrolling in Masters, and then Doctoral programmes around the world.
The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.
Philosophy students may participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the Study Abroad site.
From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.
Students of Philosophy may be interested in joining the Philosophy Society which hosts talks from distinguished guest speakers covering a wide range of areas in philosophy. The society also organises a number of social events including pub quizzes, holiday parties and movie evenings, and it publishes its own undergraduate philosophy journal, Aporia.
The Department of Philosophy is located in Edgecliffe, a Scottish Baronial house situated on a small cliff with views across St Andrews Bay. Edgecliffe is home to a departmental library with over 5,000 volumes. Most Philosophy seminars and tutorials will take place here, with larger lectures taking place in nearby buildings.
The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As the campus is located around town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings and areas of greenery and seaside which provide a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. If you want a change of scenery, St Andrews' position near surrounding towns and cities such as Anstruther, Dundee and Edinburgh make it ideal for getting to know more about Scotland.
"My diverse background (I was born in Korea and have lived in China) has always made me question my identity and this led to being interested in metaphysics. The size of the Department makes for a friendly and focused environment, and our lecturers and tutors are always ready to help students.”
Youngju (Seoul, South Korea)
Department of Philosophy University of St Andrews Edgecliffe The Scores St Andrews KY16 9AL
As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online. (PDF, 72 KB).