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 of systematic philosophy and its history, as well as developments in contemporary philosophy, surpassing the level of the bachelor's programme, that form the basis for independent development and application of original ideas, understanding and analyses;
- knowledge and understanding of recent developments in the field of their specialisation:
Global and Comparative Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of one or more non-Western philosophical traditions, their history, and their reception and its inter-cultural dimensions, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Global and Comparative Perspectives.
Modern European Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of the history of Western philosophy, in particular the German and French traditions of the 19th and 20th century, and their reception, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Filosofie van mens, techniek en cultuur [Philosophy of Mind, Culture and Technology].
Moral and Political Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of theoretical ethics, metaethics, methods of normative philosophy and the history of moral and political philosophy, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Ethiek en politieke filosofie [Ethics and Political Philosophy].
Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy: knowledge and understanding of the normative and systematic philosophical foundations of political and economic systems, theories and debates within applied philosophy and contemporary political philosophy.
Philosophy of Knowledge: knowledge and understanding of theoretical philosophy, in particular epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and the philosophy of science, their history, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Theoretische Filosofie [Theoretical Philosophy].
Applying knowledge and 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.
Core seminar, mandatory for the chosen specialisation (10 EC)
Three optional courses (each 10 EC)
MA thesis, Thesis seminar, and MA exam/thesis defence (20 EC)
The subject of the thesis must belong to the field of the chosen specialisation. Students follow the mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.
One of the optional courses (i.e. max. 10 EC) can be replaced by an internship. Any extra credits that have been obtained for the internship will be recorded as extra-curricular components on the diploma supplement.
Ending of part-time tuition
As of 1 September 2020 the programme offers full-time tuition only and starting the MA programme with part-time tuition is no longer possible. The part-time programme of the MA Philosophy 60 EC is being phased out. Students who have started one of the specialisations of the MA Philosophy 60 EC as a part-time programme before 1 September 2020 will be allowed to complete the part-time programme up until August 2022.
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.
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 approximately 20,000 words.
The following assessment criteria will apply:
Knowledge and insight
Application knowledge and insight
Communication (langiage, annotation)
Programme specific requirements (knockout criteria) are: philosophical relevance, convincing argumentation, and the ability to arrive independently at considered judgements on a philosophical debate.
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 MA Philosophy 60 EC consists of the following specialisations:
Global and Comparative Philosophy
Modern European Philosophy
Moral and Political Philosophy
Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy
Philosophy of Knowledge
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 five 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 Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies, Patsy Casse.