M.A. Philosophy

University of Birmingham

Application deadline: None, but early application advised
Tuition fee: Not specified
Start date: September  2015
Duration full-time: 12 months
Languages:
  • English
Location:
Disciplines:
Delivery mode: On Campus
Educational variant: Part-time, Full-time

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Description

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You will take a core research skills module and then select five modules from a range of options offered by Philosophy (including the Centre for the Study of Global Ethics) and other departments.

Available modules within Philosophy include:

* Epistemology
* God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life
* Metaphysics
* Philosophy of Cognitive Science
* Philosophy of Health and Happiness
* Philosophy of Language
* Philosophy of Mind
* Value of Life
* Research Seminar

You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

On this programme you will study a wide range of topics including ethics, metaethics and global ethics;epistemology and metaphysics; mind, language and action; and the philosophy of health and happiness.You will be taught by a vibrant community of philosophers, pursuing original research on a wide range of topics on which expert supervision is available.

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Contents

You will study one core module:
Research Skills and Methods

This module is an introduction to the methods of contemporary philosophy. It identifies key philosophical reasoning tools and styles of argument, providing opportunity to apply these to classical philosophical debates. It also highlights the great variety of philosophical theorising on offer by contrasting so-called 'armchair' and empirically-informed philosophy, as well as theoretical and applied philosophy. Throughout there will be an emphasis on honing essential practical skills, namely reading and writing philosophy at postgraduate level. This module will also be useful as a basic refresher course for those who have studied some philosophy already. The sessions are taught by a member of the Department of Philosophy, focusing on discipline-specific topics.

You will also choose five optional modules from a range which includes:
Epistemology

Epistemology is the philosophical study of knowledge. In this module you will examine a number of fundamental issues which have been especially prominent in recent debates on the subject, including: a priori knowledge (is there any, and if so, what is distinctive about it?); internalism vs. externalism (to know something, does a subject have to be aware of its justification?); and epistemic contextualism.

God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life

The module provides an introduction to a number of philosophical issues that have a relevance to the philosophy of religion, such as: Are there sound arguments for/against the existence of God? Is freedom compatible with God's foreknowledge? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is life meaningless without God? Can there be morality without God?

Metaphysics

In this module you will investigate a range of advanced topics in contemporary metaphysics. We will begin by looking at metaphysical issues relating to ourselves: personal identity and free will. Well then move to a more fundamental metaphysical debate, realism versus anti-realism, before looking at two specific topics which have become very popular in recent years: the metaphysics of possibility and the metaphysics of persistence through time.

Philosophy of Cognitive Science

This module covers a range of advanced topics in empirically-informed philosophy of mind. In any given year, some of the following topics will be addressed in detail: theories of intentionality; differences between human and animal cognition; pathologies of belief such as delusions and self-deception; theories of emotion; accounts of cognitive rationality; the relationship between ownership and authorship of thoughts; the narrative view of the self; the psychology of wisdom and expertise.

Philosophy of Health and Happiness

The module will examine debates at the forefront of current research in the philosophy of health and happiness. You will explore conceptual problems (e.g. what health and disease are) and question contemporary lifestyle issues (for instance, regarding how health, happiness and meaning relate, as well as whether there is a correlation between income and life satisfaction). You will also be asked to consider how technological advances (such as those in genetics) are changing these understandings.

Philosophy of Language

This module covers a range of advanced topics in analytic philosophy of language and its overlap with the realism/antirealism debate in metaphysics. In any given year, some of the following topics will be addressed in detail: Frege's distinction between sense and reference; Russell's theory of definite descriptions; logical positivism and the verification principle; Quine on analyticity and translation; Kripke's Wittgenstein on rule-following; Grice's theory of meaning; Davidson's programme; Dummett's attack on realism.

Philosophy of Mind

What is the place of consciousness in nature? Will we ever understand it in a scientific way? What about thinking in general? Are human minds, essentially, grey wet computers, or do we need altogether distinctive conceptual resources to understand them? These kinds of questions have concerned philosophers of mind for centuries, and in this module well address a range that are central to contemporary debates. We begin with the metaphysical question of whether consciousness can be accommodated in a physicalist world view, examining the difficulties faced by various different attempts to analyse it in physical (scientific) terms. We then move to some fundamental questions about mental states in general: Are they located inside peoples heads? Can they be understood in purely descriptive terms, or are they (like moral and other evaluative properties are often held to be) in some sense essentially normative?

Value of Life

This module is intended to provide scope for an assessment of that brand of extreme philosophical pessimism according to which life not only has no positive value but is something we should be better off without that, to echo the title of a recent book by David Benatar, it is better never to have been. The initial focus will be on the arguments for this view put forward recently by Benatar himself and before him by Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860). The focus will then shift to the more affirmative approaches of thinkers like Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and William James (1842-1910). An important subsidiary theme will be the nature of pleasure, pain, happiness and suffering.

Research Seminar

This is an innovative module which replicates the experience of being a professional academic. You will attend the PhilSoc and choose a topic from those discussed at the seminar. You will then write your own paper on that topic, which is assessed by members of staff as if it was going through the 'peer-review' process for acceptance to an academic journal. You will then present your paper in the Postgraduate Seminar and rewrite it according the comments. This module provides a unique and invaluable experience for students considering continuing in academia.

Global Ethics I

This module aims to introduce you to key concepts and debates in global ethics. First, we will explore several prominent traditions in ethical theory; next we will apply these normative ethical theories to concrete ethical questions. In investigating these theories and applications, you will be encouraged to question your presumptions about the nature of ethics and moral values. The module also develops critical reasoning and argumentative skills through philosophical discussion and writing. The theoretical tools of analysis and argument can be applied in all aspects of global ethics.
Global Ethics IIThis module develops your understanding of key global ethical issues, in particular human rights, poverty, distributive justice, cosmopolitan democracy, governance and humanitarian intervention.

Human RightsThis module introduces you to the contemporary philosophical debates about human rights. It focuses more on human rights understood as moral rights, rather than as legal rights written in international law. We will begin from the very basic question of what human rights are. We will also consider questions such as What kind of human rights are there?, Which beings can have human rights?, 'Are human rights inalienable?', and What happens when human rights conflict?. The first half of the module focuses on exploring different philosophical justifications for human rights; we will cover justifications based on the dignity of human agency, international politics, and human flourishing. The second half of the module will focus on philosophical debates about the nature of specific human rights - looking first at some general rights, for autonomy, liberty and wellbeing, and then at more concrete rights to life and privacy. We will also consider objections to human rights based on relativist and utilitarian views in ethics.

Global Bioethics

This module introduces you to the increasing number of dilemmas in bioethics that cross national boundaries and transcend domestic regulation. Bioethical dilemmas, whether arising from scientific and technological developments or from the research practices of pharmaceutical companies, raise issues which cannot be effectively addressed at national or regional levels. Bioethics clearly calls for global solutions to what are global dilemmas and you will be introduced to some of the key bioethical issues which arise in the contemporary global context.

Requirements

The programme allows for multi-disciplinary entry. You need an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in Philosophy or other relevant subjects (Theology, Politics, Psychology, English, etc.) or a Joint Honours degree of which Philosophy or another relevant subject is a component.

· IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.0 in any band.

· TOEFL IBT 93 with no less than 20 in any band

English Language Requirements

CAE score: (read more)

Cambridge English: Advanced (CAE) is part of the Cambridge English suite and is targeted at a high level (IETLS 6.5-8.0). It is an international English language exam set at the right level for academic and professional success. Developed by Cambridge English Language Assessment - part of the University of Cambridge - it helps you stand out from the crowd as a high achiever.

80 (Grade A)

Funding

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database, which can be found here:

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