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MA Thesis Philosophy 120 EC


The Master’s thesis

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed all components of the 120 EC programme and have completed their final thesis as a component of that programme. The master’s thesis is an independent academic contribution to philosophy in the field of the chosen specialisation. The thesis must be supervised by a staff member of the Leiden Institute for Philosophy. The student is required to write a master’s thesis in the second year of the MA programme in Philosophy 120 EC (normally in their last semester).

Attainment levels

The master’s thesis should clearly show that the student meets the attainment levels which have been set for this programme in terms of knowledge and skills. More specifically, the master’s thesis and the working method for the thesis should demonstrate that the student:

  • has acquired knowledge and understanding of the history, the foundations, the methodology and/or ethics of the specific discipline, that is founded upon and extends that associated with the level of the bachelor’s programme in the philosophy of a specific discipline;

  • has acquired knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural impact of philosophy in general and of the philosophy of the specific discipline in particular;

  • has acquired knowledge and understanding of the main parts of the philosophy of the specific discipline, of their problems, methods, and central concepts, that is founded upon and extends that associated with the bachelor’s level, and that provides a basis for originality in developing and applying original ideas and analyses;

  • knows the discussions in the forefront of their field, and is able to take part in them;

  • is able to contribute to current discussions on philosophy and in new and complex contexts related to philosophy;

  • is able to handle philosophical complexity and to formulate judgments based on information from diverse sources, even if this information is limited or incomplete;

  • has a realistic view of the tenability and reliability of his/her own conclusions;

  • is able to integrate or confront different approaches to philosophical questions;

  • in short, is able to write philosophical papers at an academic level.

Formal requirements and assessment criteria

The thesis for the Master’s programme in Philosophy 120 EC has a workload of 20 EC's, and the length of the thesis is approximately 20,000 words. Depending on the subject, the student and the supervisor may agree on a different length. Other formal requirements that the thesis must satisfy are listed in the Protocol Graduation Phase.

Agreements and supervision

There are only two times each academic year that students can start their thesis, in February and in September. At the end of May (for starting the thesis in September), or at the end of November (for starting the thesis in February) students choose three possible combinations of supervisor and topic out of a list and send their preferences to the instructor of the MA Thesis Seminar. In June or December you will be assigned to a supervisor so that you can start your thesis in time. You are encouraged to contact your appointed supervisor as soon as possible for an initial appointment in which you make further arrangements regarding the supervision.

The agreements relating to the planning and supervision of the writing of the MA thesis are set out in writing by the student and the supervisor in the Agreements relating to the MA thesis form. (See part 3 of the Protocol Graduation Phase MA in Philosophy.) The agreements include details on the choice of subject of the thesis, on the frequency of sessions with the thesis supervisor and the manner of supervision, and on the phasing of the research leading up to the thesis.

Final examination

The master’s thesis shall be defended as part of the final examination. The grade of the master’s thesis is determined by the examiners after the questioning (defence of the thesis) in the MA examination. The final examination cannot be scheduled before both the thesis supervisor and the second reader have assessed the thesis as sufficient for the exam. The second reader will be appointed by the Board of Examiners. The final examination may be held at any time during the academic year. However, graduation in the current academic year (i.e. not later than the last working day of August) is only possible if the final draft of the MA thesis has been approved by the thesis supervisor and sent to the Board of Examiners no later than 15 June.