Philosophy MA (Honours) 2023 entry

The MA (Hons) in Philosophy will familiarise you with many of the views and arguments that are discussed in the philosophical tradition, including both historical and contemporary work. 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 most fundamental questions that human beings have asked about their own existence and the world they inhabit. For example: what differentiates truth from falsehood, and reality from appearance? How can we acquire knowledge of the world, and what can prevent us from doing so? Are we really free in our decisions and actions, or is freedom an illusion? How should we behave toward others, and what could settle that question? What kind of structure would an ideal society have? You may also encounter more specific philosophical issues that arise in the world today, relating to matters as varied as climate change, artificial intelligence, social media ethics, and bioethics. 

UCAS code
V500
Start date
September 2023
End date
September 2027
Duration
Four years full time
School
School of Philosophical, Anthropological and Film Studies
“I appreciate and value the combination of lectures, small tutorials and workshops. If we have any questions, we are actively encouraged to stop by our lecturer’s office to discuss these further. I have cherished every single moment of learning and interacting with the vibrant international community around me and hanging out with my friends.”
Sophia
- Hong Kong

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. 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.

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 entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    AAAB
    Minimum entry grades:
    AABB
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    AAB
    Minimum entry grades:
    ABB
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

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.

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No previous knowledge of philosophy is required.

Alternative study options

Students interested in this course may also be interested in the following:

Study abroad

Philosophy students can apply to 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 website.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need to provide an English language test score to evidence your English language ability. Find out more about approved English language tests and scores for this course.

Course details

The MA (Hons) in Philosophy is a four-year course run by the Department of Philosophy. During your degree, you will be trained in precise and effective reading, as well as clear thinking and writing required for philosophical study.

In the first two years, as a sub-honours student, you will study some of the great texts in philosophy and be introduced to the fundamental questions discussed by philosophers from ancient Greece to the present day, exploring both theoretical and practical questions. This will lay the foundations required for an Honours degree.

Alongside Philosophy, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study at least one additional subject, sometimes two. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

During your final two years, as an Honours student, you will focus your studies on your particular philosophical interests and will be able to choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including:

  • aesthetics 
  • artificial intelligence and philosophy 
  • critical theory and critical race theory 
  • epistemology (the study of knowledge) 
  • ethical and political theory 
  • formal logic 
  • metaphysics 
  • philosophies of logic, mind and language 
  • philosophies of film, creativity, law, economics and religion 
  • philosophy of the climate crisis 
  • feminist philosophy 
  • texts in the history of philosophy. 

Final-year students may also choose to write a dissertation on a philosophical topic chosen in consultation with teaching staff. Students can work on the dissertation for either one semester or the whole year. 

Graduates in Philosophy from St Andrews can expect to have acquired a highly developed sense of independent critical thinking and judgement and to be able to communicate ideas and arguments clearly and effectively. 

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.

Modules

In the first two years of your degree, as a sub-honours student, you will take philosophy modules alongside modules in at least one other subject.

Typically, you will take one philosophy module per semester during your first two years (though you may take more), and two modules per semester during your third and fourth year. 

Students must take the following compulsory first-year module alongside other philosophy modules: 

  • Reasoning: introduces the essential concepts and techniques of critical reasoning, formal propositional logic, and basic predicate logic. 

Students interested in Philosophy can also choose from a number of other philosophical modules which cover topics including metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, ethics, history of philosophy, and political philosophy. Find a full list of first-year Philosophy modules in the module catalogue. 

Students must take at least two philosophy modules in their second year. The following second-year modules are available for students to choose from: 

  • Intermediate Logic: further develops students’ understanding of formal logic by the study of a broad array of systems of logic. 
  • Foundations of Western Philosophy: introduces students to the foundational philosophical thought of Ancient Greece, from the pre-Socratics to the Hellenistic period. 
  • Meaning and Knowing: provides a comprehensive foundation in both epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and the philosophy of language. 
  • Moral and Aesthetic Value: provides an introduction to the philosophy of value, exploring what it is to make aesthetic or moral judgements or statements, and the status of these. 

If you decide to take philosophy in your third and fourth years, you choose from a wide variety of advanced options, including modules in applied ethics, logic, and the history of philosophy. 
Philosophy Honours modules which have been offered in previous years include: 

  • Advanced Logic 
  • Advanced Metaethics 
  • Animals, Minds and Language 
  • Classical Philosophy 
  • Conceptual Engineering and its Role in Philosophy 
  • Contemporary Epistemology 
  • Contemporary Philosophy of Language 
  • Continental European Philosophy from Descartes to Leibniz 
  • Core Works in Continental Philosophy 
  • Kant’s Critical Philosophy 
  • Paradoxes 
  • Philosophy and Literature 
  • Philosophy and Public Affairs: Global Justice 
  • Philosophy, Feminism and Gender 
  • Philosophy of Law 
  • Philosophy of Perception 
  • Philosophy of Religion 
  • Responsibility, Praise, and Blame 
  • The Philosophy of Human Rights 
  • Timely Topics in Political Philosophy 
  • Work, Entitlement, and Welfare. 

In fourth year, students may also undertake a 7,500-word dissertation on a topic of their choice. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees. 

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.

Teaching

Philosophy sub-honours modules are primarily delivered through formal lectures (40 to 220 students) complimented by small group tutorials (fewer than 10 students whenever possible). Tutorials allow students to discuss their ideas, questions and problems with a tutor and with fellow students.

At Honours level, students attend smaller lectures (10 to 50 students) along with seminars (10 students), where you may often be asked to present and discuss your own work.

When not attending lectures and tutorials you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects 
  • undertaking research in the library 
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations 
  • preparing for examinations.

At both sub-honours and Honours level, most modules are assessed entirely by coursework, while some include written examinations.

Coursework includes essays, research projects, logic exercises and in-class presentations.

Written examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand.

The Department aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments. 

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by an experienced teaching team with expertise and knowledge of philosophy. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of classes and seminars under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all Philosophy staff on the Department of Philosophy website.   

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.

Fees

Scotland
Tuition fees have yet to be set.

England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland
£9250

Channel Islands, Isle of Man
£9250

EU and overseas
£28190

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Philosophy as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

Course name UCAS code
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Biology and PhilosophyCV16
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Computer Science and PhilosophyGV46
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Mathematics and PhilosophyGV14
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Philosophy and PhysicsFV30
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Philosophy and StatisticsGVH6
Bachelor of Science (Honours) Philosophy and Sustainable DevelopmentRV48
Master of Arts (Honours) Ancient History and PhilosophyVV15
Master of Arts (Honours) Arabic and PhilosophyTV65
Master of Arts (Honours) Art History and PhilosophyVV35
Master of Arts (Honours) Biblical Studies and PhilosophyVVM6
Master of Arts (Honours) Classical Studies and PhilosophyQV85
Master of Arts (Honours) Classics and PhilosophyQ8V5
Master of Arts (Honours) Comparative Literature and PhilosophyQV25
Master of Arts (Honours) Economics and PhilosophyLV15
Master of Arts (Honours) English and PhilosophyQV35
Master of Arts (Honours) Film Studies and PhilosophyPV35
Master of Arts (Honours) French and PhilosophyRV15
Master of Arts (Honours) Geography and PhilosophyLV75
Master of Arts (Honours) German and PhilosophyRV25
Master of Arts (Honours) Greek and PhilosophyQV75
Master of Arts (Honours) International Relations and PhilosophyLV25
Master of Arts (Honours) Italian and PhilosophyRV35
Master of Arts (Honours) Latin and PhilosophyQV65
Master of Arts (Honours) Management and PhilosophyVN52
Master of Arts (Honours) Mathematics and PhilosophyGV15
Master of Arts (Honours) Medieval History and PhilosophyVVC5
Master of Arts (Honours) Modern History and PhilosophyVVD5
Master of Arts (Honours) Persian and PhilosophyTV25
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and Psychology(BPS Recognition Route)CV85
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and RussianRV75
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and Scottish HistoryVV52
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and Social AnthropologyLV65
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and SpanishRV45
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and StatisticsGV35
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and Sustainable DevelopmentRV47
Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy and Theological StudiesVV56

Joint degrees taken with Arabic, French, German, Italian, Russian, Spanish are also available 'With Integrated Year Abroad'.

"With" degrees

You can take Philosophy as part of a "with" Honours degree in which the majority of the course deals with the first name subject. St Andrews offers the following "with" degrees in Philosophy:

  • Master of Arts (Honours) Philosophy with Bible and Culture - UCAS code PB01

Careers

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 MA graduates have entered careers in:

  • non-profit organisations (including Oxfam and Charityworks) 
  • banking 
  • management consultancy 
  • retail area management 
  • local government 
  • government organisations (including the NHS) 
  • television production 
  • publishing 
  • teaching.

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.

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

Phone
+44 (0)1334 46 2486
Email
philosophy@st-andrews.ac.uk
Address
Department of Philosophy
Edgecliffe
5 The Scores
St Andrews
KY16 9AL

Department of Philosophy website

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