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Philosophy of a Specific Discipline: Philosophy of Law

With effect from September 2012 the name of this master’s programme will be
MA Philosophy (120 EC): Philosophy of Law. description

Philosophy of Law is a specialisation of the MA programme in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. For information about the objectives and general structure of the programme, the MA thesis and the requirements for graduation, please see MA in Philosophy of Specific Discipline . For a brief description of this specialisation 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

  • 30 EC / 3 MA courses in Philosophy (to be chosen from the selected courses listed below)

  • 10 EC / Supervised literature study in the area of the master’s thesis

  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

The structure of the two-year programme is presented below. The subjects of the philosophy seminars are varying yearly. 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 / MA 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

  • 10 EC / MA course in Philosophy

  • 10 EC / Supervised literature study in the area of the MA thesis

  • 20 EC / MA thesis

Leidse Combinatie

Participants in the “Leidse Combinatie” who have completed the LL.M Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht are exempted from several components of the programme (see: Meer info).

First/Second Year

In 2011-2012 the following philosophy courses are on offer for the specialisation Philosophy of Law. (For courses on offer in the chosen discipline please see the programmes of the discipline concerned.)

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Law

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

Philosophy of Law: History and Philosophy of the Rule of Law 10

MA courses in Philosophy

In total, students take three MA courses in Philosophy, two courses in year 1 and one course in year 2.

Introduction to Kant: Metaphysics, Epistemology and the Problem of Freedom 10
Philosophy and Science of Free Will 10
Hobbesian Moral Psychology 10
Political Obligation 10
Kant & Kantian Ethics 10
Character, Situation and Behaviour 10
Philosophy of Social Sciences: Methodological Questions 10
Schelling over vrijheid 10

Supervised literature study in the area of the master's thesis

Literature Study (Philosophy) 10

MA Thesis

MA Thesis (Philosophy of a Specific Discipline) 20

Meer info


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.

Leidse combinatie

Voor studenten die de specialisatie Philosophy of Law willen volgen en in Leiden de MA-specialisatie Encyclopedie en Filosofie van het Recht hebben afgerond, bestaat een verkorte toegangsroute tot de MA Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. Daarnaast krijgen zij in de masterfase vrijstelling voor de volgende onderdelen: MA courses in Law (40 EC), een van de geselecteerde MA courses in Philosophy (10 EC), en de Supervised Literature Study (10 EC). Deze studenten schrijven een MA thesis van 20 EC inclusief literatuurstudie. Zie voor meer informatie: Recht en filosofie: de Leidse Combinatie

Specialisation co-ordinator

Dr. B.J.E. (Bruno) Verbeek