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Philosophy (120 EC): Philosophy of Law

Philosophy of Law is one of the six specialisations of the the MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC), formerly called MA Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. This two-year master’s programme is intended for students in a particular academic discipline who are interested in the philosophical foundations and methodological aspects of that discipline. For a brief description of the specialisation Philosophy of Law, and information about the objectives and general structure of the programme, the MA thesis and the requirements for graduation, click on ‘Meer info/More Info’ below.

Structure of the programme

The programme consists of five components:

  • 40 EC / MA courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (Law)
  • 20 EC / 2 Specialist MA courses in Philosophy of Law
  • 40 EC / 4 MA courses in Philosophy (to be chosen from the selected courses listed below)
  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

The structure of the two-year programme is presented below. The subjects of the philosophy seminars are varying yearly; the titles of the courses on offer in the next academic year will be available around May. Please note that the sequence of the various components of individual programmes may deviate from the structure proposed due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or to the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has already been completed. However, the two specialist courses are compulsory, and students must take one specialist course each year. The master’s thesis will be the final part of the programme. Students are requested to discuss their programme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

First Year

  • 30 EC / Courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (Law)
  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Law
  • 20 EC / 2 MA courses in Philosophy

Second Year

  • 10 EC / MA courses in chosen discipline outside philosophy (Law)
  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Law
  • 20 EC / 2 MA courses in Philosophy
  • 20 EC / MA thesis

Leidse combinatie: recht en filosofie

Participants in the Leidse combinatie who have completed the LL.M Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht are exempted from several components of the specialisation Philosophy of Law (see: Meer info). These students follow a programme of study that consists of 60 EC.

First year / Second year

In 2013-2014 the following philosophy courses are on offer for the specialisation Philosophy of Law.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

MA courses in Law

For courses on offer in the chosen discipline please see the programmes of the discipline concerned.

Specialist MA courses in Philosophy of Law

In total, students take two specialist courses, one course in year 1 and one course in year 2

Political Obligation 10
Philosophy of Law 10

MA courses in Philosophy

In total, students choose four MA courses in Philosophy selected for their specialisation, spread over two years.

Political Judgement 10
The Politics of Modernity 10
Metaethics 10
Plato's Timaeus: Science, Politics and Morality 10
Freedom/Liberty as Essentially Contested Concept 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis (Philosophy 120 EC) 20

Leidse combinatie: September intake

Students in the Leidse combinatie starting with the MA specialisation Philosophy of Law in September 2013 follow the programme below. All components are compulsory.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialist Course Philosophy of Law

Political Obligation 10
Philosophy of Law 10

MA Courses in Philosophy

Political Judgement 10
The Politics of Modernity 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis (Philosophy 120 EC) 20

Leidse combinatie: February intake

Students in the Leidse combinatie starting with the MA specialisation Philosophy of Law in February 2014 follow the programme below. All components are compulsory. In the first semester of 2014-2015 they follow a second specialist course in Philosophy of Law and write their MA thesis.

Course EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialist Course Philosophy of Law

Philosophy of Law 10

MA Courses in Philosophy

Metaethics 10
Freedom/Liberty as Essentially Contested Concept 10

More info

Description of the specialisation
De Leidse combinatie
Objectives and Achievement Levels
Programme
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
Additional programmes
Contact information

Description of the specialisation

Law is a peculiar institution in modern societies. It permeates all areas of life and guides our everyday interactions in all sorts of ways. But what is law actually? What makes certain rules law and others not? And what makes something into a rule anyway? Should we identify law as codified law or can we find law in other places as well? What is the proper method for finding law? What sorts of reasoning do legal practitioners use when they seek to apply the law to a case?

In addition to these analytical questions there are the big normative questions about good law. What is the rule of law? Why is it so desirable? Are there limits as to what the law can demand from us? Do we have a (moral) duty to obey the law? What does justice require from the law? These and other questions come up in one form or other in the specialisation Philosophy of Law.

De Leidse combinatie

Voor studenten die de specialisatie Philosophy of Law willen volgen en aan de Universiteit Leiden de MA-specialisatie Encyclopedie en Filosofie van het Recht hebben afgerond, bestaat een verkorte toegangsroute tot de MA Philosophy (120 EC). Bovendien krijgen zij in de masterfase vrijstelling voor de volgende onderdelen: MA courses in Law (40 EC) en twee van de vier geselecteerde MA courses in Philosophy (elk 10 EC). Zie voor meer informatie: Recht en filosofie: de Leidse Combinatie

Objectives and Achievement Levels

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) has the following objectives:

  1. with respect to knowledge, understanding and their applications
    a. to impart scholarly knowledge, insight, methods, and skills in the field of philosophy, building on the foundations laid in the BA-programme in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline, or the pre-master Philosophy);
    b. to impart a scholarly attitude, which is characterized by the student’s capacity to:
  • engage in individual and independent academic thought and action;
  • analyse complex problems;
  • write academic reports;
  • apply specialist skills in an intellectual and social context.
  1. with respect to a career
  • to prepare students for a profession in the field of the specific discipline for which philosophical knowledge, insight and skills have added value;
  • to prepare students for other professions in which philosophical knowledge, insight and skills have added value;
  • to prepare students to some extent for an academic career and for postgraduate education, in particular for a PhD project;
  • to prepare students for any non-academic career for which general academic skills such as abstraction skills, heuristic capability and creativity are required.

The following achievement levels apply with regard to the programme:

  1. Knowledge and understanding and their applications
    Students who have completed the programme
  • have 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;
  • have acquired knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural impact of philosophy in general and of the philosophy of the specific discipline in particular;
  • have 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;
  • know the discussions in the forefront of their field, and are able to take part in them;
  • are able to contribute to current discussions in philosophy and in new and complex contexts related to philosophy;
  • are able to contribute to the philosophical-social debate on the basis of their philosophical knowledge and understanding.
  1. Making judgements
    Students who have completed the programme
  • are able to handle philosophical complexity and to formulate judgments based on information from diverse sources, even if this information is limited or incomplete;
  • have a realistic view of the tenability and reliability of their own conclusions;
  • are able to integrate or confront different approaches to philosophical questions.
  1. Communication skills
    Students who have completed the programme
  • have been trained in giving clear expositions of philosophical problems, ideas, theories, interpretations and argumentations, to specialist and non-specialist audiences, in English, and, in case of students who are Dutch native speakers, in Dutch as well;
  • are able to write philosophical papers whose quality shows the potential to come close to that of articles in refereed journals in the field.
  1. Learning skills
    Students who have completed the programme have developed the learning skills to allow them to continue their study in a research context in a manner that may be largely self-directed, and to conceive and design a PhD project.

Programme

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) offers six specialisations, in which students are able to combine the study of philosophy with a non-philosophical discipline, varying from natural sciences to humanities and political science. The programme offers both full-time and part-time tuition.

Specialisations

The two-year MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC) offers six specialisations:

  • Philosophy of Humanities
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Medical Sciences
  • Philosophy of Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy of Political Science
  • Philosophy of Psychology

Full-time and part-time

The programme offers both full-time and part-time tuition. The part-time programme is offered as a daytime course. The full-time programme spans two years (including the non-philosophical component), the part-time programme spans three years. The only difference between the two programmes is in the length of time required for their completion; in content they are identical.

Structure

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) consists of five components:

  • 40 EC / MA/MSc courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy
  • 20 EC / Specialist MA courses in philosophy of the chosen discipline
  • 40 EC / MA courses in philosophy
  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

Students are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in the discipline of their specialisation, which enables them to follow the non-philosophical part of their master’s programme at the faculty or department of the chosen discipline. Students who have already obtained a master’s degree in the chosen discipline are normally exempted from this part of the programme.

Full-time programme

First year

  • Students follow 500-level courses for a total of 30 EC in the chosen specific discipline outside philosophy.
  • Further, students follow two courses in philosophy, with a workload of 10 EC each. The choice may be made from a cluster of seminars selected from the courses on offer in the one-year MA programme in Philosophy.
  • Finally, students follow one specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC). Depending on the number of enrolments these specialist courses will be offered either as a full seminar or as a series of individual tutorial sessions.

Second year

  • Students take 500-level courses for a total of 10 EC in the chosen discipline outside philosophy.
  • Students follow two courses in philosophy, with a workload of 10 EC each. The choice may be made from a cluster of seminars selected from the courses on offer in the one-year MA programme in Philosophy.
  • Further. students follow a second specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).
  • Finally, students complete a master’s thesis of 20 EC.

Please note that the structure and sequence of components of individual MA programmes in Philosophy (120 EC) may deviate from the structure above due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has been completed.
Students are requested to discuss their progamme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

Part-time programme

In the part-time programme the various components will be spread over three years:

First year

  • MA/MSc courses for a total of 40 EC in chosen discipline outside philosophy.

Second year

  • MA courses in philosophy for a total of 30 EC.
  • Specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).

Third year

  • MA course in philosophy (10 EC).
  • Specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).
  • Master’s thesis of 20 EC.

Please note that the structure and sequence of components of individual MA programmes in Philosophy (120 EC) may deviate from the structure above due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has been completed.
Students are requested to discuss their progamme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

Internship

Students are allowed to include an internship of no more than 10 EC in their MA programme on condition that its job description has a clear relationship to philosophy. The internship will replace one of the four MA courses in philosophy.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed 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 student is required to write a master’s thesis in the second year of the MA Philosophy (120 EC) – normally in the 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 of systematic philosophy and its history, and of recent developments in contemporary philosophy, 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 whose quality shows the potential to come close to that of articles in refereed journals in the field.

Formal requirements and assessment criteria

The thesis for the MA Philosophy (120 EC) has a workload of 20 ECs, and the length of the thesis is normally 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 MA Philosophy 120 EC

Agreements and 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. 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 may be held at any time during the academic year. However, graduation within the current academic year is only guaranteed when the final draft of the thesis has been approved of by the supervisor on July 1st at the latest. The grade of the master’s thesis is determined by the examiners after the questioning (defence of the thesis) in the MA examination.

Additional programmes

In addition to their MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC), students are – on certain conditions – qualified to follow the teacher-training in Philosophy: a preparation for a career in high school education or in MBO (intermediate vocational) education in the Netherlands. On completion of this MA programme students obtain a second master’s degree and a high-school teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid) in philosophy. Generally, students who completed the MA Philosophy (120 EC) need to follow some additional courses in philosophy on BA level before they are permissable to this teacher-training. For more information about admission requirements please contact the Coordinator of Studies. More information about the programme of the teacher-training is available on the website of ICLON

Students awarded a master’s degree are eligible to pursue a doctorate. Information about the PhD programme is available on the institute’s website.

Contact information

Specialisation coordinator

Dr. B.J.E. (Bruno) Verbeek
b.verbeek@phil.leidenuniv.nl

Coordinator of Studies

Contact details of the Coordinator of Studies of the Leiden Philosophy Department.