Objectives and achievement levels
The MA Philosophy 60 EC has the following objectives:
- to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of philosophy;
- to enable students to develop the following academic and professional skills:
independent academic reasoning and conduct,
the ability to analyse complex problems,
the ability to clearly report academic results, both in writing and orally;
- to prepare students for an academic career and further education;
- to prepare students for a career outside academia.
Graduates of the programme have attained the following learning outcomes, listed according to the Dublin descriptors:
Knowledge and understanding
knowledge and understanding in the field of systematic philosophy and its history, as well as of developments in contemporary philosophy, that are based on the bachelor's programme, surpass the level of the latter, and form the basis of the independent development and application of original ideas, understanding and analyses;
knowledge and understanding of recent discussions in the field of their specialisation.
Applying knowledge ad understanding
- the ability, on the basis of the knowledge and understanding of philosophy they have acquired, to contribute to current discussions in philosophy and related areas.
the ability, on the basis of the sound knowledge of philosophy acquired during the programme, to analyse complex philosophical problems;
the abilty to judge the reliability of different kinds of sources;
to forme judgements based on different kinds of sources;
a realistic view of the reliability of their conclusions;
the ability to integrate different approaches to philosophical questions and compare these with each other.
the ability to give a clear presentation of philosophical problems, ideas, theories, interpretations and arguments, for specialist audiences as well as for a general audience;
the ability to write philosophical papers at an academic level.
- the possession of learning skills that allow graduates to continue their study of philosophy, and to formulate a research proposal for a PhD.
The MA Philosophy 60 EC consists of the following specialisations:
Ethics and Politics
History and Philosophy of the Sciences
Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Culture
Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy
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 one year, the part-time programme a year and a half. The only difference between the two programmes is in the length of time required for their completion; in content they are identical.
Specialisation Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy
Students enrolled in the specialisation Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy follow one mandatory core seminar (10 EC) and three optional courses (each 10 EC). The programme will be concluded by a master’s thesis of 20 EC, the subject of which must belong to the field of Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy. Students follow a mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.
Specialisations Ethics and Politics, History and Philosophy of the Sciences, and Philosophical Anthropology & Philosophy of Culture
Students enrolled in the specialisations Ethics and Politics, History and Philosophy of the Sciences, and Philosophical Anthropology & Philosophy of Culture, follow one mandatory core seminar (10 EC) and three optional courses (each 10 EC), which have been selected for their specialisation. Topics of the optional courses are varying each year. The programme will be concluded by a master’s thesis of 20 EC in the field of the specialisation. Students follow a mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.
Students can only take the optional courses selected for the specialisation to which they have been admitted. Students holding a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Leiden University may, however, also take optional courses selected for one of the two other specialisations, on condition that the core seminar, at least one of the three optional courses, and the subject of the master’s thesis belong to the chosen specialisation. Not more than two of the four courses can have the same instructor.
Students may include an internship their MA programme in Philosophy 60 EC. A maximum of 10 EC of optional courses can be replaced by an internship. If more than 10 EC have been obtained for the internship the extra credits will be recorded as extra-curricular components on the diploma supplement.
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
Requirements for graduation
In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 60 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 semester of their MA programme in Philosophy 60 EC. (For students starting their MA programme in February, the second semester will be the Fall semester.)
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 his/her field;
is able to contribute to current discussions in philosophy and related areas;
is able to analyse complex philosophical problems and to forme judgements based on different kinds of sources;
has a realistic view of the tenability and reliability of his/her 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 60 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 in Philosophy
Agreements and supervision
The thesis must be supervised by a staff member of the Leiden Institute for Philosophy. 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.
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, students who graduate on the last working day of August need to hand in the graduation form no later than July 1st and the final draft of the thesis need to be approved by the supervisor and sent to the Board of Examiners no later than June 15th.
In addition to their MA programme in Philosophy 60 EC students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy as well are qualified to follow the teacher-training in Philosophy: a preparation for a career in high school education or in MBO (intermediate vocational) education. On completion of this MA programme students obtain a second master’s degree and a high-school teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid) in philosophy. Please note that students who have completed an Educational Minor as their optional subject, are allowed to follow a fast-track Educational Master’s Programme (30 EC instead of 60 EC). For more information, see 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.
Career preparation in the MA Philosophy 60 EC
The MA Philosophy 60 EC at Leiden is a one-year master’s programme that integrates historical and systematic approaches in philosophy. The MA Philosophy 60 EC consists of four specialisations. In each specialisation, the programme offers a sophisticated knowledge of the field’s traditional and recent philosophical developments, as well as an advanced training in philosophical methodologies and skills.
The intellectual skills students will develop in the MA Philosophy 60 EC are transferable to most non-philosophical professions. The programme will train students to become a critical thinker, capable of analysing complex ideas and evaluating the principles of various positions. Students will study, analyse and discuss primary philosophical texts, and learn to develop and communicate their ideas both orally and in writing.
How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you would like to do after graduation?
These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.
You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:
Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.
It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of the MA Philosophy 60 EC include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.
The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:
Courses of the MA Philosophy 60 EC
Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within the MA Philosophy, this takes place within, for example, the following courses:
If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies, Patsy Casse.