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MA Philosophy

The Essex MA in Philosophy provides a rigorous grounding in modern European philosophy from Kant to the present, combining close attention to texts with a strong emphasis on analytic clarity and precision.

Our MA modules are intensive, taught in small groups by our expert academic staff, and provide a thorough preparation for undertaking independent research and PhD study. Students also complete a supervised dissertation for submission at the end of the course in September.

Read the full course description on our course finder:


A range of postgraduate scholarships are available including our School of Philosophy and Art History fee-waivers.

MA pathways

You can do the MA Philosophy and have a free choice of options or you may wish to specialize in a specific area of European philosophy. You can choose to follow one of three pathways that give you an advanced grounding in that area:

  • Continental Philosophy
  • Critical Social Theory
  • Philosophy and Art History

If you pass all the modules associated with your chosen pathway and write your dissertation in that research area, your pathway will appear on your degree certificate.


  • Continental Philosophy

    We are one of the leading centres for continental philosophy in the UK. Most of our academic staff work on continental philosophy, including classical German philosophy (Kant and German Idealism), nineteenth-century philosophy (Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche), phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty), and contemporary French philosophy.

    We offer a range of modules across these areas every year.

    For pathway recognition in continental philosophy you must take the following modules:

    1. Two modules (40 credits) from either:

      • Contemporary French Philosophy (PY947)
      • Hegel (PY933)
      • Heidegger (PY935)
      • Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (PY500)
      • Kierkegaard (PY946)
      • Nietzsche (PY934)
      • Phenomenology and Existentialism (PY949)
      • Topics in Continental Philosophy (PY950)

      (note: not all of these module options are offered every year)
    2. Three other philosophy modules or approved outside options (max 60 credits, maximally 40 credits of outside options)
    3. Dissertation in Continental Philosophy (PY981) (80 credits)

    See our module directory for information about individual modules.

  • Critical Social Theory

    We are the leading centre for critical social theory in the UK with five members of academic staff working on the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Habermas, Honneth), contemporary French thought (Derrida, Foucault, Rancière) and issues in critical social theory, such as activist political theory, deliberative democracy, and the moral limits of markets.

    For pathway recognition in critical social theory you must take the following modules:

    1. The Frankfurt School (PY952) (20 credits)
    2. Contemporary Critical Theory (PY948) (20 credits)
    3. Three other philosophy modules or approved outside options (60 credits, maximally 40 credits of outside options)
    4. Dissertation in Critical Social Theory (PY983) (80 credits)

    See our module directory for information about individual modules.

  • Philosophy and Art History

    Drawing on the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach of the school, our new philosophy and art history pathway enables students to get a thorough grounding in philosophical aesthetics and profit from the wide-ranging expertise of our staff in both disciplines.

    For pathway recognition in philosophy and art history you must take the following modules:

    1. Philosophy and Aesthetics (PY954) (20 credits)
    2. Two Art History Modules (40 credits)
    3. Two other philosophy modules (40 credits)
    4. Dissertation in Philosophy and Art History (PY985) (80 credits)

    See our module directory for information about individual modules.

For further details about the course structure please see the programme specification:

Your academic development

You can perfect your writing skills by taking our MA Writing Workshop , learn German on our dedicated language course and participate in the many seminars, colloquia, minicourses and other graduate events in our School. We encourage you to be part of our philosophy research community, and to take advantage of all the opportunities available during your time here.

Our academic staff

Wayne Martin

Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across a wide range of philosophical areas.


Mini courses

Every year we invite distinguished philosophers from around the world to give minicourses to our students at Essex.

PhD study

Postgraduate research study

By undertaking PhD study at Essex, you will become a member of an exciting and active research community, and benefit from the expert supervision of our internationally recognised staff.

AHRC funding

PhD student in library

Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).