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Philosophy 120 EC: Philosophy of Law

Philosophy of Law is a specialisation of the MA Philosophy 120 EC.

Generally, students will be enrolled in two master’s programmes: the MA Philosophy 120 EC, and an LLM programme in Law.

Structure of the programme

The two-year programme consists of the following components:

MA courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (for a total of 40 EC)

Students complete 500-level LLM courses in Law for a total of 40 EC. In principle, these courses should form a coherent combination of subjects. These non-philosophical courses will be included in both master’s programmes.

Specialist courses (for a total of 20 EC)

Students complete two mandatory specialist courses, which are selected for the specialisation Philosophy of Law (10 EC each). Please be informed that there will be one specialist course on offer each year.

Core seminar (10 EC)

Students complete one mandatory core seminar that is specified for their programme.

Mandatory course in philosophy (10 EC)

Students complete one mandatory course in philosophy that is specified for their programme. Course topics are varying from year to year.

Optional courses in philosophy (for a total of 20 EC)

Students select two optional courses in philosophy (each 10 EC), which can be spread over two years. Course topics are varying from year to year.

Master’s thesis, thesis seminar, and exam (20 EC)

The MA programme will be concluded by a master’s thesis of 20 EC. The master’s thesis is an independent academic contribution to philosophy of law. Students follow the compulsory Thesis Seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written. Before graduation students sit for a final exam for which they defend their thesis.

Programme change as from 2019-2020

The mandatory philosophical component of the programme has been subject to a small change: while in former years this component consisted of two specialist courses (indicated as Philosophy of Law) and two mandatory courses selected for the specialisation, from the academic year 2019-2020 onwards one of the two mandatory courses has been replaced by the core seminar in practical philosophy. So during their two-year programme students follow two specialist courses, the core seminar and one mandatory course selected for their specialisation. In 2019-2020 this mandatory course is not on offer. From 2020-2021 onwards, there will be one mandatory course on offer each year (the topic of which may vary from year to year).

Students who started their MA programme before September 2019, and who still have to complete one or two mandatory courses apart from the specialist courses indicated as Philosophy of Law, have to take the core seminar in 2019-2020. For students who already completed the two mandatory philosophy courses the former programme structure will apply; they don’t have to take the core seminar.

Please contact the Coordinator of Studies if you have any questions about the effect of the programme change in your particular situation.

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 More info). These students follow a programme that consists of 60 EC.

Planning

As students will generally be enrolled in two master’s programmes the MA Philosophy 120 EC requires a careful planning. Please see More info (below) for additional information about the planning. Students are strongly advised to set up their studyplan in consultation with the Coordinator of Studies before the start of the programme.

Programme changes as from 2020-2021

As from September 2020 the MA specialisation Philosophy of Law will be ended as it currently exist and will be replaced by the specialisation Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics. The pre-master's programme that prepares for the specialisation will remain unchanged.

Further information

For additional information concerning the objectives of the programme, the master’s thesis and requirements for graduation, see More info.

First Year / Second Year

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Specialist course

Philosophy of Law: Hart and His Critics 10

Core seminar

Practical Philosophy: Contemporary Debates 10

Mandatory course in Philosophy

Not on offer in 2019-2020

Optional courses in Philosophy

Practical Judgement 10
Nietzsche contra Kant as Thinkers in Conflict 10
Realism and Idealism in Political Philosophy 10
Agonal Perspectives on Nietzsche's Philosophy 10

LLM courses in Law

Please see the master’s programme of the chosen discipline outside philosophy.

Internship

Students may choose to replace a maximum of 10 EC of the non-philosophical component of the programme by an internship.

Internship (MA Philosophy) 10

MA Thesis

Students follow the mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.

Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Fall) 0
Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Spring) 0
MA Thesis Philosophy 120 EC 20

Leidse combinatie

Programme

Participants in the Leidse combinatie who have completed the LL.M Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht, are exempted from the non-philosophical part of the programme (40 EC) and two of the MA courses in philosophy (20 EC). These students follow a programme that consists of 60 EC in total, consisting of three mandatory courses, one optional course, the Thesis Seminar and the MA Thesis (see below).

Deficiency

Generally, graduates of the Leiden Master's programme Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht have been admitted to the MA Philosophy of Law with a deficiency of 15 EC. During their MA programme these students still have to complete the following courses of the pre-master's programme: Ethiek, Politieke filosofie, and History of Political Philosophy. Please take into account the workload of these three extra courses while planning your study programme.

Programme change as from 2020-2021

As from September 2020 graduates of the Leiden Master's programme Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht can be admitted to the MA Philosophy Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics with a deficiency of no more than 15 EC, i.e. there will be no change in the admissions procedure. The requirements for the philosophical component of their MA programme in Philosophy 120 EC, however, will be the same as they are for students whithout a degree in Encyclopedie en filosofie van het recht, i.e. 80 EC's in total.

Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Mandatory courses

Practical Philosophy: Contemporary Debates 10
Practical Judgement 10
Philosophy of Law: Hart and His Critics 10

Optional courses

Select one course

Nietzsche contra Kant as Thinkers in Conflict 10
Agonal Perspectives on Nietzsche's Philosophy 10
Realism and Idealism in Political Philosophy 10

MA Thesis

Students follow the mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.

Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Fall) 0
Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Spring) 0
MA Thesis Philosophy 120 EC 20

More info

Description of the specialisation

Philosophy of Law

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.

Objectives and achievement levels

Objectives

The MA Philospophy 120 EC programme has the following objectives:

  1. to enable students to acquire academic knowledge, understanding and skills, and train them in the use of scientific methods in the field of the philosophy of a discipline;
  2. 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;

  1. to prepare students for an academic career and further education;
  2. to prepare students for a career outside academia.

Learning outcomes

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 the history, foundations, methodology and/or ethics of the specific disciplines;

  • knowledge and understanding with regard to the social and cultural meaning of philosophy in general and the philosophy of the specific disciplines in particular;

  • knowledge and understanding of the main philosophical elements of the discipline as well as knowledge and understanding of the problems, methods and key terms of these elements.

Applying knowledge and understanding

  • the ability, based on the acquired knowledge and understanding, to contribute to discussions in philosophy of the specific discipline, and in related areas.

Judgement

  • 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.

Communication

  • 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.

Learning skills

  • the possession of learning skills that allow graduates to continue their study of philosophy of the specific discipline, and to formulate a research proposal for a PhD.

Programme

Specialisations

The two-year MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC) offers five specialisations, in which students are able to combine the study of philosophy with a non-philosophical discipline:

  • Philosophy of Humanities

  • Philosophy of Law

  • Philosophy of Natural Sciences

  • Philosophy of Political Science

  • Philosophy of Psychology

Combining two master’s programmes

Students are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in the discipline of the chosen specialisation, which enables them to follow the non-philosophical component 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 (non-philosophical) discipline are normally exempted from this part of the programme.

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 the following components:

  • 40 EC / MA or MSc courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy

  • 20 EC / Two mandatory specialist courses in philosophy of the (chosen) specific discipline

  • 10 EC / One mandatory core seminar

  • 10 EC / One mandatory course in philosophy

  • 20 EC / Two optional courses in philosophy

  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis and Thesis Seminar

It is required that students choose their optional courses in philosophy from the courses that are selected for their specialisation, and that the subject of their master’s thesis belongs to the field of their specialisation. Furthermore, the 500-level courses outside philosophy (for a total of 40 EC) must be completed in the academic discipline specified in the name of their specialisation.

Internship

A maximum of 10 EC of the non-philosophical component of the MA programme in Philosophy 120 EC 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.

Planning

A possible planning of the two-year programme is presented below. Please note that the sequence of the various components of individual programmes may deviate from the scheme 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. Keep in mind that there will be one specialist course on offer each year, therefore one of these mandatory specialist courses (indicated as: Philosophy of [name of the specific discipline]) must be completed in the first year and the other one in the second year.

As students will generally be enrolled in two master’s programmes the MA Philosophy 120 EC requires a careful planning. Students are strongly advised yo discuss their programme with the Coordinator of Studies before the start of their first semester.

First Year

  • 30 EC / LLM courses in Law

  • 10 EC / Specialist course Philosophy of Law

  • 10 EC / Core seminar

  • 10 EC / One optional course in philosophy

Second Year

  • 10 EC / LLM courses in Law

  • 10 EC / Specialist course Philosophy of Law

  • 10 EC / One mandatory course in philosophy

  • 10 EC / One optional course in philosophy

  • 20 EC / MA thesis and Thesis Seminar

Depending on the number of enrolments the specialist courses will be offered either as a full seminar or as a series of tutorial sessions.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

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 of the specific discipline. 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 and understanding in the field of the history, foundations, methodology and/or ethics of the specific discipline, 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 of the specific discipline 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 MA Philosophy 120 EC has a workload of 20 EC's 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

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..

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. Graduation is possible at any time during the academic year, except for July. However, graduation within the current academic year is only guaranteed when the final draft of the thesis has been approved of by the supervisor and sent to the Board of Examiners not later on June 15th.

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 20 EC van de cursorische onderdelen van de filosofische component (uitgezonderd de twee specialisatiecursussen en het core seminar).

Contact data

Specialisation coordinator

Dr. B.J.E. (Bruno) Verbeek
For questions relating to the contents of the programme.

Coordinator of Studies

Coordinator of Studies of the MA Philosophy 120 EC.
For questions relating to programme requirements, planning, regulations, graduation, etc.

Career Preparation

Career preparation in the MA Philosophy 120 EC

The programme

The MA Philosophy 120 EC at Leiden is a demanding two-year master’s programme that investigates the philosophical foundations and methodological approaches of various non-philosophical disciplines. As students generally combine a master’s in a non-philosophical discipline with the MA Philosophy 120 EC, their career perspectives obviously exceed those of students who complete an MA in Philosophy only. The comments below concern the philosophy component of their education.

The MA Philosophy 120 EC consists of five specialisations. In each specialisation, the progamme aims to enhance knowledge of a particular discipline with complementary understanding of its philosophical foundations, and 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 120 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?’.

Activities

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:

Transferable skills

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 120 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:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of the MA Philosophy 120 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:

Contact

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.