MSc Philosophy

An ideal foundation for future research

With one of the largest philosophy departments in the world, we offer you a wide choice of subject areas to study and a diverse, supportive learning environment.

You can keep your studies general or focus on one of the areas of philosophy where we have particular strength.

Philosophy at Edinburgh is well-known for its research strength in Epistemology, Ethics and Meta-Ethics, Philosophy of Science, and Mind and Cognition, but we have recently developed new areas of specialisation, in Gender and Race, Applied Ethics, and Enlightenment Philosophy.

You can also take advantage of the highly interdisciplinary nature of research within Philosophy and draw on teaching and research both elsewhere in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences and within other relevant Schools.

We also offer the following related programmes in philosophy:

Video: Philosophy-What questions are we asking-animation
Philosophy-What questions are we asking-animation Open Day 2020

Why study Philosophy at Edinburgh?

  • Philosophy is rated 4th in the UK by Times Higher Education for the quality and breadth of the research using the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).
  • We're ranked 6th in the UK and 19th in the world for philosophy (QS World University Rankings by subject 2022).
  • An opportunity to follow a broad programme in philosophy or focus on one of our key areas of specialisation.

Programme structure

The MSc Philosophy is the flagship taught postgraduate degree in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. The programme can be taken full time (over one year) or part-time (over two years). The degree consists of 180 credits, with a standard load for a full-time student consisting of three 20-credit courses in semesters one and two, and then the completion of a 8,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choosing over the summer (due for completion in August).

As a student on the MSc Philosophy, you will be able to take advantage of the world-leading research culture here at Edinburgh, with a wide range of research talks and events. We are committed to providing innovative and engaging social events throughout the year on a variety of topics.

Course options

Compulsory courses:

  • Phil Skills (a 0 credit study skills course for students without a background in philosophy)
  • Philosophy Dissertation

Optional courses vary year to year; recent courses include:

  • Applied Ethics
  • The Computational Mind
  • Epistemology and Evidence Law
  • Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
  • Freedom, Consent, and Political Obligation
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Indian Philosophies of Mind and Language
  • Philosophy of Information
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Self, Agency and the Will

When to apply

If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa, then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Application deadline:

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis with a final deadline of 30th June 2022.

News & reflections from our Philosophy community

Recent news

Philosophy Professor Shannon Vallor leads new centre that bridges gap between tech and morality.

The Centre for Technomoral Futures, which launched in August 2020, aims to bring together technical and moral expertise to help design more sustainable and just models of innovation.

Its initial focus will be on the ethical implications of data-driven innovation in Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning and other emerging technologies.

"I am thrilled to lead this effort to develop new models of education for the 21st century that meet the needs of our present reality. Amid climate change, a global pandemic, rising social inequality and injustice, diminished trust in scientific experts and eroding public confidence in technological solutions for the complexities of democratic governance, one thing is clear: the human family cannot navigate the road ahead without learning how to re-integrate our technical and moral capabilities." - Professor Shannon Vallor

Read full article

Forward Thinking blog

Second year Philosophy PhD student Liv Coombes explores the grandfather paradox in this Panpsycast podcast episode.

The grandfather paradox is a paradox in time travel which asks: can time travellers change the past?

The name comes from a common description where we go back in time and kill our own grandfather before the conception of our mother or father. Many people say no, it is logically impossible.

Listen to Philosophy PhD student Liv Coombes discuss her research on time travel and free will in this two-part episode by the Panpsycast:

Listen now

Elanor Taylor

Dr Elanor Taylor (2005)

Currently Assistant Professor at John Hopkins University, USA

"There are a number of really wonderful things about this programme. It was a thriving, bright, welcoming intellectual community which made studying philosophy really exciting. I was surrounded by people who made me feel welcomed, who were encouraging me to push myself but in a very supportive environment. Being around this lively scholarly community was also really good fun."

Read Elanor’s full profile

Career paths

This is the ideal programme for deepening your involvement in philosophy, giving you a grounding in postgraduate work or developing an academic career in philosophy.

The study of philosophy helps develop general intellectual abilities and enhance analytical, critical, interpretive and problem-solving abilities.

As well as further postgraduate study, new graduates from this programme have gone on to roles across a variety of sectors. These roles include:  

  • Lead Psychologist
  • Assistant Psychologist
  • Research Assistant
  • Healthcare Research Assistant
  • PhD Psychology
  • MSc Cognitive Science

Connect with us

If you have any programme-specific enquiries please get in touch with the programme director:

Dr Patrick Todd (Programme Director)

Feel free to get in touch with our friendly Postgraduate Office with any questions you might have about academic or English language requirements, course information, enquiries about your application and information on arriving at the University.

Postgraduate Office enquiries:


Visit the MSc Philosophy webpage:

MSc Philosophy

How to apply and fees & funding information:

Degree Finder for MSc Philosophy

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