Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

MA Philosophy and Scottish Literature

UCAS code: VQ55

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Philosophy and Scottish Literature

Philosophy

Philosophy has been at the core of Western intellectual life for at least 2,500 years. It is central to our understanding of the world and of our place in and interaction with it.

Philosophy provides the tools by which the presuppositions of all areas of intellectual and practical activity may be systematically and critically examined.

While there are different approaches that philosophers have taken, characteristic of philosophy is the emphasis on the use of:

  • argument
  • critical enquiry
  • rigour in reasoning
  • clarity of expression, including the making of pertinent distinctions

Philosophy at Edinburgh

The University has a strong historic connection to the subject, counting Adam Ferguson and Sir William Hamilton among its former students.

Edinburgh has one of the UK’s largest philosophy departments and the Philosophy Society attracts high-profile speakers.

Scottish Literature

Based in the first UNESCO World City of Literature, you will study in the oldest department of literature in the UK and one of the longest established in the world.

You will develop the critical, analytic, linguistic and creative skills needed for the close reading and discussion of poetry, drama and prose.

You'll engage with:

  • a broad range of texts
  • a variety of approaches to reading
  • the cultural contexts of all major periods of Scottish literature from the late Middle Ages to the present

At honours level, you will select courses on the basis of your own interests in specific topics, periods or literary genres.

Studying Philosophy and Scottish Literature together

This joint programme enables you to gain an in-depth knowledge in both subject areas, and the opportunity to specialise in the topics that interest you most.

Combining literature with philosophy shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own, an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Year 1

Philosophy

You will study:

  • Introduction to the History of Philosophy
  • Morality and Value
  • Logic 1

These courses introduce you to key topics in:

  • the history of philosophy
  • morality and ethics
  • the nature of argument

Scottish Literature

In Scottish Literature, you will take two ‘Literary Studies’ courses which will introduce you to the essential skills needed for the critical close reading of the core literary genres of:

  • poetry
  • drama
  • prose

You will read works of literature written in English from around the world, and encounter a range of ideas about the nature and purpose of literary study.

Option courses

You can also choose to take Philosophy of Science 1, which looks at philosophical problems and assumptions around science.

Year 2

Philosophy

In Philosophy, you will take two courses:

  • Mind, Matter and Language
  • Knowledge and Reality

Scottish Literature

You will be introduced to the study of Scottish literature in its cultural and historical contexts, focusing on a selection of major periods.

These courses will explore the relationship between literary texts and the construction of national, international and imperial cultures.

Option courses

You can also choose option courses in a wide range of subjects.

Year 3

Philosophy

You will start to specialise. You can choose from a range of courses related to our areas of expertise.

Scottish Literature

In Scottish Literature, you can choose courses that explore different periods, topics and approaches according to your area of interest.

These courses will help you prepare if you choose to do your dissertation in Scottish Literature in Year 4.

Year 4

You will choose further courses from a range linked to the major areas of the subjects.

You will also complete either:

  • an independent dissertation, consisting of a single extended essay on a topic of your choice in Philosophy or Scottish Literature, or
  • a coursework dissertation through two extended essays in Philosophy

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2022/23)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

The University holds many literary treasures in its extensive collections. These include:

  • the Corson Collection of works by and about Sir Walter Scott
  • the libraries of Lewis Grassic Gibbon, Hugh MacDiarmid and Norman MacCaig

We are home to the Scottish Writing in the 19th Century project and network, and to Scotland’s Early Literature for Children Initiative.

We are also the Scottish base of The Collected Letters of Thomas and Jane Welsh Carlyle, Duke-Edinburgh edition, one of the major editorial projects in Victorian studies of the last half-century.

In addition, we collaborate in the Edinburgh Environmental Humanities Network and have developing strengths in the Digital Humanities.

Philosophy has been taught at the University since its foundation in 1583. Our collections and library holdings in the subject are extensive.

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs. It also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

Founded in 1871, Edinburgh PhilSoc is the University's oldest continuously running student society and is the largest and most active philosophy society in the UK.

EUSA also supports LitPALS, the Peer-Assisted Learning Scheme for literature, where students across year groups help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

Across the University, there a lots of opportunities to get involved in:

  • reading and writers' groups
  • poetry slams
  • creative writing and publishing
  • student theatre

We also have a fantastic Writer-in-Residence who organises talks and workshops by visiting writers and runs our annual writing prizes. Their drop-in sessions give you the chance to:

  • share your work
  • get feedback
  • meet other student writers
  • get inspiration and prompts for new work

Annual student writing prizes include awards for prose and verse in Lowland Scots vernacular.

In the city

A UNESCO World City of Literature, Edinburgh is a remarkable place to study, write, publish, discuss and perform prose, poetry and drama.

In addition to a fantastic range of publishing houses, bookshops, theatres, and cinemas, you will study near the:

  • National Library of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Edinburgh Central Library
  • Scottish Poetry Library
  • Scottish Storytelling Centre
  • Writers’ Museum

We have strong links with the Edinburgh International Book Festival, which annually welcomes around 1,000 authors to our literary city.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through international exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Courses are taught through a combination of lectures and tutorials.

You will be expected to undertake substantial reading each week in preparation for Scottish Literature classes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed by a mixture of coursework and exams.

In Year 4, you will also complete either an independent dissertation on a topic of your choice, or a coursework dissertation through two extended essays.

Skills and experience

Studying literature and philosophy shows an openness to ideas and perspectives other than your own. This is an essential attribute in many careers and a global marketplace.

Beyond the literary, analytical and critical thinking skills you will gain on this programme, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.

As a graduate, you will be able to demonstrate to employers skills such as the:

  • ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts
  • capacity to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups

Opportunities across sectors

During your time with us, you will study a range of subjects, with the option to take courses in languages and other areas of the humanities and social sciences.

As you progress through your honours years (Years 3 and 4), you will specialise in literary and philosophical topics, periods or genres.

This breadth of education gives you the foundations to excel in a range of career sectors, especially those that value transferable humanities skills.

Our alumni have gone on to careers in the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, sometimes through graduate training schemes where the ability to communicate well is essential in securing a competitive place.

Typical sectors include:

  • business, finance and commerce
  • communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
  • creative writing, publishing, culture, heritage, and the arts
  • education, outreach, advocacy and training
  • journalism, broadcasting and media
  • leisure, tourism and travel
  • politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
  • research, development and venture acceleration

Further study

The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, we typically offer:

  • taught and research-led MSc degrees in literature and in philosophy
  • MSc degrees in Playwriting, Creative Writing and Mind, Language and Embodied Cognition
  • interdisciplinary MSc programmes in Comparative Literature and Intermediality

Careers advice

We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA - AAB.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 36 points with 665 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: English at B.
  • A Levels: English Literature or combined English at B.
  • IB: HL: English at 5.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

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.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • SQA Standard Grade at 3
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

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

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

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

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Philosophy and Scottish Literature

Additional costs

None.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding