Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Philosophy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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.

Dr Elanor Taylor MSc Philosophy, 2005 (currently Assistant Professor at John Hopkins University, USA)
Dr Elanor Taylor               MSc Philosophy, 2005 (currently Assistant Professor at John Hopkins University, USA)

Our flagship MSc Philosophy degree programme offers you an excellent opportunity to enhance your learning and join a large, vibrant and supportive postgraduate community.

This programme provides an intensive grounding in philosophy, its methodology and techniques of research. It is the ideal programme to lead on to further research and study in philosophy as part of a PhD programme.

We provide a broad, advanced education in philosophy, covering all the core areas of analytic philosophy:

  • Epistemology
  • Metaphysics
  • Logic and philosophy of language
  • Moral and political philosophy

Key research areas

The programme provides the ideal foundation for future research in philosophy and you have the option to keep your studies general or focus on a particular area.

Your MSc culminates in a research dissertation in a core research area: an original, publication-quality piece of research, undertaken in close collaboration with researchers in the relevant group.

The department has particular focus in the following areas:

  • Applied ethics
  • History of philosophy, including Ancient philosophy, Islamic philosophy, and Early modern and Enlightenment philosophy
  • Meta-ethics
  • Philosophy of mind, philosophy of cognitive science and neuroscience
  • Philosophy of race and gender
  • Philosophy of science

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).

What will I learn?

One of the main advantages of the MSc in Philosophy is its flexibility. There are no mandatory courses for the degree (beyond a study skills course for those without a strong background in philosophy), thus allowing you to develop a path that is tailored to your interests.

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.

Is this MSc for me?

This programme provides an understanding of particular philosophical areas, and you can customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.

It provides an excellent preparation for further research and knowledge of philosophy, whether you choose to pursue this in further in academic research or in a professional career.

Reputation, relevance and employability

Edinburgh has a proud and distinguished place in the history of philosophy and has long been associated with some of the field’s most important thinkers.

Our Philosophy department, one of the largest in the world, is now home to academics leading research into a wide range of contemporary topics.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, having the opportunity to select optional courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Our students’ research projects are often published in academic or professional journals.

Our programme has an excellent reputation among employers and further research opportunities. Many of our graduates have gone onto PhD training and we have a high academic job placement record.

Find out more about our community

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is home to a large, supportive and active student community, hosting events and activities throughout the year which you can join. As a postgraduate student you will have access to a range of research resources, state-of-the-art facilities research seminars and reading groups.

This programme contains two semesters of taught core courses and optional courses followed by a dissertation.

The taught courses and their assessments take place between September to December (Semester 1) and January to April (Semester 2). Planning for the dissertation will take place until April and the project is carried out between April and August.

Core courses

One of the main advantages of this programme is its flexibility and you are able to tailor the programme to your interests. The core courses are:

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

The MSc Proseminar will help students develop the research, writing, and other skills necessary to be successful in the Philosophy MSc. Part-time students are strongly encouraged to take the MSc Proseminar in their first year.

Optional courses

The optional courses can be selected to tailor the programme to your interests. Examples of optional courses are:

  • Logic, Computability and Incompleteness
  • Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science
  • Epistemology
  • Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
  • Freedom, Consent, and Political Obligation
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • The Philosophy of Wittgenstein
  • Philosophy of Virtual Worlds MSc
  • Philosophy of Information
  • Philosophy of Time Travel MSc

In addition to the courses offered in the department, you are able to take up to 40 credits of level 11 courses outside of philosophy, depending on availability and approval from the Programme Director. Recently, such courses have included:

  • Buddhist Thought
  • Contemporary Debates in Political Theory
  • Freedom and the State
  • Film and Existentialism


The dissertation involves writing a research project in close collaboration with an expert supervisor.

You will write an essay that is similar in length and structure to an academic journal article.

The work and writing takes place between April and August and will be due in August.

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught by a combination of live and pre-recorded lectures and seminars/tutorials. The number of contact hours and the teaching format will depend to some extent on the option courses chosen.

After classes finish in April, you will spend all your time working independently on coursework, exam revision and on your dissertation. When you carry out your supervised dissertation research, you will receive guidance from your supervisor through one-to-one meetings, comments on written work and email communication.

This programme provides you with a range of knowledge and skills to prepare you for a variety of career paths including, but not limited to, further study in a PhD programme in philosophy.

On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained:

  • an understanding of advanced topics, methodologies and issues in the areas of philosophy that are of most interest to you
  • development of general intellectual abilities
  • enhanced analytical, critical, interpretive skills
  • enhanced problem-solving skills
  • transferable skills in written and verbal communication, group and teamwork, time and project management
  • the ability to work independently and as part of a team

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. However, the course also teaches a broad range of transferable skills applicable to a wide range of modern jobs.

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

Your application and personal statement allow us to make sure that you and your chosen MSc are good matches for each other, and that you will have a productive and successful year at Edinburgh.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. You should avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred.

Personal statements

When applying you should include a personal statement detailing your academic abilities and your reasons for applying for the programme.

The personal statement helps us decide whether you are right for the MSc programme you have selected, but just as importantly, it helps us decide whether the MSc programme is right for you.

Your personal statement should include:

  • What makes this particular MSc programme interesting for you?
  • What are the most important things you want to gain from the MSc programme?
  • What are the key philosophy courses you have taken that are relevant for this specific programme and what are your academic abilities?
  • A short description of a philosophical question you would like to pursue during your time as an MSc student here and an explanation of why you find it philosophically interesting.
  • Any other information which you feel will help us ensure that you are a good match to your intended MSc programme.

A good personal statement can make a big difference to the admissions process as it may be the only opportunity to explain why you are an ideal candidate for the programme.

Work Samples

It is useful for the panel to receive a sample of your academic written work. Please provide a sample of work written in English on a relevant topic of your choice to demonstrate your suitability to the programme. If you don't have an existing piece of academic work that would be suitable, you should provide a short essay (of at least 2000 words), analysing a piece of philosophy you have found interesting. This could be an analysis of a book chapter or a philosophy paper.

(Revised 20 February 2024 to add in 'Work samples' information)


You will be asked to add contact details for your referees. We will email them with information on how to upload their reference directly to your online application. Alternatively, they can email their comments to:

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree or its international equivalent.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component. We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries (non-MESC).

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than five years old* at the beginning of your programme of study. (*Revised 05 March 2024 to extend degree validity to five years.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Tuition fees

There are a number of highly competitive scholarships and funding options available to MSc students.

Deadlines for funding applications vary for each funding source. Please make sure to check the specific deadlines for the funding opportunities you wish to apply for and make sure that you submit your application in good time.

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments.

The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on:

  • your programme
  • the duration of your studies
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Berislav Marušić
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

MSc Philosophy operates a gathered field approach to applications. You may submit your application at any time.

All complete applications that satisfy our minimum entry requirements will be placed on a shortlist and held until the next batch processing deadline, at which point applications will be ranked and offers made to the top candidates.

Applications are processed in batches:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 30 November 2023 01 February 2024
2 01 February 2024 02 April 2024
3 03 April 2024 29 May 2024

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

Supporting documentation and referees

Applications must be complete with all supporting documentation to be passed on for consideration, this includes references.

Please ensure that you inform referees of any deadline you wish to meet.

Please read through the ‘Important application information’ section on this page before applying.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Berislav Marušić
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD