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Course overview
(MA) Master of Arts
University of Essex
University of Essex
Colchester Campus
Full-time or part-time
MA V50024


Professional accreditation


Admission criteria

A Degree with an overall 2.2 in Philosophy or a related subject such as: Archaeology, Anthropology, Art History, History, Law, Literature, Politics, Sociology or foreign languages with literature components.

Your degree should contain modules in philosophy


IELTS (International English Language Testing System) code

IELTS 7.0 overall with a minimum component score of 5.5

If you do not meet our IELTS requirements then you may be able to complete a pre-sessional English pathway that enables you to start your course without retaking IELTS.

Additional Notes

The University uses academic selection criteria to determine an applicant’s ability to successfully complete a course at the University of Essex. Where appropriate, we may ask for specific information relating to previous modules studied or work experience.

Course qualifiers


Rules of assessment

Rules of assessment are the rules, principles and frameworks which the University uses to calculate your course progression and final results.

Additional notes

Please refer to the full time version of this course for information on Core and Compulsory modules.

External examiners

Staff photo
Dr Alexander Golob

Senior Lecturer

King's College London

External Examiners provide an independent overview of our courses, offering their expertise and help towards our continual improvement of course content, teaching, learning, and assessment. External Examiners are normally academics from other higher education institutions, but may be from the industry, business or the profession as appropriate for the course. They comment on how well courses align with national standards, and on how well the teaching, learning and assessment methods allow students to develop and demonstrate the relevant knowledge and skills needed to achieve their awards. External Examiners who are responsible for awards are key members of Boards of Examiners. These boards make decisions about student progression within their course and about whether students can receive their final award.

eNROL, the module enrolment system, is now open until Monday 25 October 2021 8:59AM, for students wishing to make changes to their module options.


Core You must take this module.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Core with Options You can choose which module to study.
You must pass this module. No failure can be permitted.
Compulsory You must take this module.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Compulsory with Options You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.
Optional You can choose which module to study.
There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the degree if you fail.

Year 1 - 2021/22

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 Philosophy option(s) year 1 Optional 60 Optional Optional

Year 2 - 2022/23

Exit Award Status
Component Number Module Code Module Title Status Credits PG Diploma PG Certificate
01 PY981-7-FY / PY983-7-FY / PY984-7-FY / PY985-7-FY Core with Options 80 Core with Options
02 Philosophy option year 2 Optional 20 Optional Optional
03 Option from list Optional 30 Optional Optional

Exit awards

A module is given one of the following statuses: 'core' – meaning it must be taken and passed; 'compulsory' – meaning it must be taken; or 'optional' – meaning that students can choose the module from a designated list. The rules of assessment may allow for limited condonement of fails in 'compulsory' or 'optional' modules, but 'core' modules cannot be failed. The status of the module may be different in any exit awards which are available for the course. Exam Boards will consider students' eligibility for an exit award if they fail the main award or do not complete their studies.

Programme aims

1. To provide students with a background in philosophy, as well as those with a variety of other backgrounds in humanities and social sciences, with a rigorous grounding in some of the principal thinkers and currents in European philosophy, from Kant to the present.
2. To offer the opportunity, for students who wish to do so, to study developments in critical social theory.
3. To offer the opportunity, for students who wish to do so, to explore the dialogue between philosophy and psychoanalysis, which has been a prominent feature of European philosophy over the last century.
4. To develop students capacities for independent thought and critical reflection.
5. To develop in students the research skills appropriate to the advanced study of philosophy, in particular through the writing of the MA Dissertation, thus providing them with the basis for further progression to a doctoral degree (subject to a pass at a minimum of 60 on the dissertation).

Learning outcomes and learning, teaching and assessment methods

On successful completion of the programme a graduate should demonstrate knowledge and skills as follows:

A: Knowledge and understanding

A1: Knowledge of some of the principal thinkers and themes in European philosophy since Kant.

A2: Knowledge of some of the principal methods employed by European philosophers since Kant (e.g., transcendental deduction, phenomenological description, genealogy, hermeneutics, moral constructivism, linguistic and conceptual analysis).

A3: Ability to engage critically with the main texts and the secondary literature pertaining to them.

A4: Ability to form and present original views on, and interpretations of, issues arising within the various currents of philosophy.

Learning methods

Outcomes A1-A4 are acquired through attendance and participation in the chosen modules.

Reading is carefully selected in advance for each session, and students are expected to have assimilated the appropriate passages prior to coming to class.

The lecture is followed by a one hour discussion, during which students are given the opportunity to ask and answer questions, voice theoretical concerns, raise additional issues.

Students are asked to give short non-assessed presentations, followed by discussions.

This provides the opportunity for an informal assessment of their oral and argumentative skills.

Outcomes A1-A4 are also fostered by means of the Departmental seminars, during which speakers - sometime world-known specialists - give presentations followed by open discussions.

The Department also organises a yearly mini-course, during which a specialist of international renown is asked to teach a series of classes on a specific topic.

Students also prepare a dissertation on a topic of their choice which is individually supervised.

Assessment methods

Outcomes A1-A4 are formally assessed by means of written coursework. Formal assessment is also carried out through the marking of the final dissertation, independently marked by two examiners.

B: Intellectual and cognitive skills

B1: Ability to identify and evaluate complex arguments and to present one's own evaluation of them.

B2: Ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology.

B3: Ability to identify underlying issues in philosophical texts, debates and arguments, and to highlight deficiencies such as unquestioned assumptions, superficial analogies and unsubstantiated claims.

B4: Ability to summarise complex and demanding texts, often written at historical distance, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose.

B5: Ability to demonstrate self direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and in commenting on complex information.

B6: Ability to plan and conduct (under the guidance of a supervisor) a piece of independent research, and to present it in a clear, coherent and argumentative manner.

Learning methods

Skills B1-B3 are developed in all modules by means of teaching, discussion and assigned oral presentations on topics chosen by the students.

These skills are also developed during the classes and seminar, where students receive feedback on their presentations and are strongly encouraged to partake in discussion.

Skills B4-B6 are developed through essay writing, and mostly through the exercise of selecting and pursuing a dissertation topic.

These skills are also fostered by supervisory sessions during the preparation of dissertations.

Assessment methods

Skills B1-B3 are assessed by means of coursework written during the year by the students.

Skills B4-B6 are formally assessed through the marking of coursework and of the dissertation.

C: Practical skills

C1: Ability for students to express themselves in a clear, argumentative and rigorous way.

C2: Ability to abstract and synthesize relevant information from a range of sources, using books, journal articles and library and internet resources.

C3: Ability to select their own topic and structure a substantial piece of independent study (the dissertation).

Learning methods

Skills C1 and C2 are developed by means of active participation in the seminars.

Personal supervision is also available to students in order to develop their own topic for each of the essays they have to write.

Considerable autonomy is encouraged in researching essays, the staff member aiming to assist in the formulation of research questions and in developing a strategy for answering them.

All students are encouraged to attend the departmental seminars, and to participate in debate on the topic presented.

Re: skill C3, during the spring term students select their prospective dissertation topic and meet regularly with their chosen supervisor.

Additionally, there are detailed guidelines on the writing of MA dissertations in the departmental handbook to supplement guidance given by the supervisor.

All three skills are informally assessed through class based work and discussion.

Assessment methods

Skills C1 and C2 are assessed by means of coursework marking.

Skill C3 is assessed by the dissertation, which is double-marked.

D: Key skills

D1: Ability to write clearly and to communicate one's ideas to an audience.

D2: Use of relevant information technology to research and present written work (including searchable databases such as library catalogues, internet sources, the Philosopher's Index, etc.).

D3: Not applicable.

D4: At the end of the module, students should have become able to: -identify the problems to be solved; -articulate critically the assumptions underlying or connected with the problem; -compare and contrast differing and often contradictory solutions to the problem; -provide arguments in evidence and defence of one's solution to the problem.

D5: Not applicable.

D6: Students should have become able to: -organise their work within deadlines; -select and organise their reading in relation to specific topics; -reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback; -learn independently.

Learning methods

Skills D1 and D4: all modules require students to participate actively in discussion.

They also require students to work independently on essays as well as on their dissertation.

These have to be structured in an argumentative manner, and the arguments have to be supported by appropriate quotes or examples.

Students also learn to express their views concisely and clearly when discussing the topics of their choice with their lecturers, and during supervisory sessions for the structuring and writing of the dissertation.

Skill D2 is developed by students themselves while they do the preparatory work for their essays and dissertation.

They are encouraged to use library searches and internet philosophy resources.

Skills D6 are developed by students during the course, by means of the research they do for the writing of their essays and dissertation.
Special emphasis is placed on feedback in the detailed comment sheets that accompany each marked essay

Assessment methods

All skills are assessed through continuous coursework, and by the marking of the dissertation by two independent examiners, neither of whom is the student's supervisor.


The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.


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