Based in the Department of Politics & International Relations, Royal Holloway’s MA in Political Philosophy is well placed for training in key issues and thinkers in contemporary political thought, from both Anglo-American and Continental perspectives. Our political philosophers have research and teaching interests in applied analytical political theory (with issues including immigration, citizenship and the politics of recognition), post-Nietzschean theories of identity and post-identity politics, democratic theory and pragmatist philosophy.
At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to the subject that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or European tradition of philosophy to connect philosophy to other disciplines across the arts, humanities and social sciences. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative programme that brings together academic staff from departments across the university – including scholars of drama and theatre, literature and political philosophy. Not only dedicated teachers of the subject, our philosophy staff are also experts and published authorities in their field.
This distinctive approach means that whichever area of philosophy you choose to study at postgraduate level, you will be able to place it in a wider context, with the support of experts across the disciplines. Our departmental specialisms include a wide range of philosophical topics such as ancient and Hellenistic philosophy, 19th and 20th-century European philosophy and contemporary analytic philosophy and American pragmatism.
We host a variety of additional activities throughout the , including a visiting speaker series organized with our active student-run Philosophy Society, a number of workshops and conferences, and a reading group that meets weekly in central London.
Advanced Topics in Philosophy
Contemporary Continental Political Theory
In addition to these mandatory course units there are a number of optional course units available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course units that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new units may be offered or existing units may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
The European Philosophical Trajectory - From Kant to the Present
Twentieth Century French Thought
In this module you will develop an understanding of the key developments of the Twentieth Century French philosophical tradition. You will look at how the French tradition developed as an alternative approach to philosophical problems on the basis of the perceived failure of classical analytical approaches. You will engage with a number of theorists, studying key texts in depth, further developing your ability to express, question, and justify theories, both dialogically, and in writing. You will assess arguments presented by Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard and Gilles Deleuze.
Philosophy of Psychology
Cultivation of the Self
Identity, Power and Radical Theory
This module will introduce you to new conceptualisations of identity, difference, power, and politics that are associated most notably with what has been termed 'Post-Marxist' or the 'New Left'. You will see how recent changes in both political theory and practice – some of which are associated with changes linked to globalization and the emergence of new social movements – present compelling a paradigm shift in the way politics is understood. You will focus on four concepts – identity, power, resistance, and otherness – that have become salient in contemporary political philosophy and international relations theory and on four theorists – Althusser, Gramsci, Laclau and Mouffe, and Foucault – whose thought on these issues has underpinned a great deal of New Left political theory and practice. You will look at how these issues have become prominent in the theory and politics around feminism and lesbian politics, and at new problematics for thinking about political thought and practice, with particular focus on what has been called the 'micropolitical' realm.
Human Rights - From Theory to Practice
This module explores some of the key issues which arise in the moral evaluation of human rights, both in general and with respect to particular rights. You will consider the role of rights in political and moral discourse and develop an understanding of some of the key criticisms to which they’ve been subject. You will also look at the three major categories of rights which have attracted much debate: economic rights, minority rights, and group rights. Finally, you will gain an oversight of the three central rights in liberal societies, examining the ways in which they have been interpreted and defended in light of recent political debates.
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework and a dissertation.
UK Upper Second Class Honours degree (2:1); or equivalent. However applications will be considered on a case by case basis.
We will consider students from non-traditional backgrounds on the basis of the submission of a substantial essay on philosophy, or demonstrable research experience, and an interview.
Interviews may be held in cases where the entry requirements are not formally fulfilled, and essays may also be requested.
English language requirements:
IELTS score of 6.5 with 7.0 in writing and no sub-score below 5.5 for non-native English speaking applicants.
If you require Royal Holloway to sponsor your study in the UK, your IELTS must be a UK government-approved Secure English Language Test (SELT).
International and EU entry requirements
Please select your country from the drop-down list below
Students from overseas should visit the International pages for information on the entry requirements from their country and further information on English language requirements. Royal Holloway offers a Pre-Master’s Diploma for International Students and English language pre-sessional courses, allowing students the opportunity to develop their study skills and English language before starting their postgraduate degree.
Philosophy degrees are well-regarded by employers because they give you the capacity to think through issues and problems in a logical and consistent way and to develop critical and transferable skills which can be applied in almost any area of employment.
So, by choosing to study this intellectually demanding discipline you will develop a broad range of highly prized transferable skills, both practical and theoretical, such as:
- the ability to communicate views and present arguments clearly and coherently
- the ability to critically digest, analyse and summarise complex ideas
- time management and the discipline to meet deadlines
- organisation and research skills
- problem-solving skills and capability
An MA in Philosophy is ideal for preparing graduates not only for doctoral research in philosophy or related fields in the humanities and social sciences, but also for a wide range of careers in education, the arts, politics and public policy. With up to 90% of our most recent graduates now working or in further study, according to the Complete University Guide 2015, it’s true to say our graduates are highly employable. In recent years, PhD graduates have taken up academic positions at Oxford, Bristol and Roehampton Universities. Outside of academia, our graduates have embarked on teaching careers in the UK and overseas, undertaken archaeological and museum work and pursued careers in journalism, finance, politics and the arts.
Home and EU students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £8,500
International students tuition fee per year 2018/19*: £14,900
Other essential costs**: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course
How do I pay for it? Find out more about funding options, including loans, grants, scholarships and bursaries.
* These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying part-time are charged a pro-rata tuition fee, usually equivalent to approximately half the full-time fee. Please email email@example.com for further information on part-time fees. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees and our terms and conditions.
** These estimated costs relate to studying this particular degree programme at Royal Holloway. Costs, such as accommodation, food, books and other learning materials and printing, have not been included.