Royal Holloway's MA in Modern Philosophy offers a unique approach to postgraduate study of philosophy by bringing into conversation Anglo-American ‘analytical’ philosophy on the one hand and ‘European’ or ‘Continental’ Philosophy on the other. The MA is designed for students to use both these traditions whilst exploring the future of philosophy as a means of understanding what is at stake in the social, political, and economic upheavals of today. As such, you will explore the key issues, thinkers and texts that are determining the future development of 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 it 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 year, 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
- The European Philosophical Trajectory: From Kant to the Present
- Legacies of Wittgenstein
- MA Philosophy Dissertaton
There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.
- Adorno and Critical Theory
- Contemporary Continental Political Theory
- Continental Aesthetics
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.
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 a particular focus on what has been called the 'micropolitical' realm.
- Political Concepts
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.
Teaching & assessment
Assessment is carried out by a variety of methods including coursework and a dissertation.
UK Honours degree or equivalent
Normally we require a UK 2:1 (Honours) or equivalent in relevant subjects but we will consider a high 2:2 or relevant work experience. Candidates with professional qualifications in an associated area may be considered. Where a ‘high 2:2’ is considered, we would normally define this as reflecting a profile of 57% or above.
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 entry requirements are not formally fulfilled, and essays may also be requested.
International & EU requirements
English language requirements
All teaching at Royal Holloway is in English. You will therefore need to have good enough written and spoken English to cope with your studies right from the start.
The scores we require
- IELTS: 6.5 overall. Writing 7.0. No other subscore lower than 5.5.
- Pearson Test of English: 61 overall. Writing 69. No other subscore lower than 51.
- Trinity College London Integrated Skills in English (ISE): ISE III.
- Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) grade C.
For more information about country-specific entry requirements for your country please see here.
Your future career
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.
Fees & funding
Home and EU students tuition fee per year*: £9,400
International students tuition fee per year**: £16,800
Other essential costs***: There are no single associated costs greater than £50 per item on this course
* and ** These tuition fees apply to students enrolled on a full-time basis. Students studying on the standard part-time course structure over two years are charged 50% of the full-time applicable fee for each study year. All postgraduate fees are subject to inflationary increases. This means that the overall cost of studying the programme via part-time mode is slightly higher than studying it full-time in one year. Royal Holloway's policy is that any increases in fees will not exceed 5% for continuing students. For further information see tuition fees see our terms and conditions.
Please note that for research programmes, we adopt the minimum fee level recommended by the UK Research Councils for the Home/EU tuition fee. Each year, the fee level is adjusted in line with inflation (currently, the measure used is the Treasury GDP deflator). Fees displayed here are therefore subject to change and are usually confirmed in the spring of the year of entry. For more information on the Research Council Indicative Fee please see the RCUK website.
*** 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.