Postgraduate study

Philosophy MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Philosophy

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)

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

We provide a broad advanced education in philosophy, especially in our key areas:

  • ancient philosophy
  • early modern philosophy
  • epistemology
  • ethics
  • mind, language and embodied cognition
  • philosophy of science
  • gender and race
  • applied ethics
  • enlightenment philosophy

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.

This programme comprises two semesters of taught courses followed by a dissertation, which you will write at the end of Semester 2 and over the summer.

At the dissertation stage, you will be assigned a supervisor with whom you meet to plan your reading and discuss your work.

Compulsory courses:

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

Optional courses can include:

  • Self, Agency and the Will
  • Islamic Philosophy
  • The Philosophy of Jean-Paul Sartre
  • Hume's Philosophy of Religion
  • Ethics
  • Epistemology
  • Philosophy of Mind and Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy of Science
  • Philosophical Methods
  • Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

The programme provides you with very specific research training. For each specialisation you will take core courses which deal with relevant research.

You will also write a dissertation on a suitable research topic under the supervision of one of the members of staff in the appropriate research cluster.

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.

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

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

English language tests

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

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 or Trinity ISE, 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.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

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:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

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

Applications submitted after the deadline date will unfortunately not be considered.


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:

Personal statement

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should include a personal statement detailing the background of your interest and why you are attracted to the programme. We expect you to have a good understanding of the field you propose to study.

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

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD