Is MA Philosophy the right course for you?

by | Jan 11, 2022 | Politics, Philosophy and Economics, Postgraduate | 0 comments

You might have already made up your mind regarding the postgraduate path you wish to follow, but if you haven’t and are considering a Master’s in Philosophy at Manchester, it might be worth giving this blog a quick read!

The MA Philosophy course here has a wide range of modules available, and as opposed to undergraduate courses, you get to choose most of your modules. Honestly, this is such a big plus! It allows you to explore the main branches of Philosophy (if you haven’t done much before), extend your philosophical knowledge (perhaps if your undergraduate degree is in Philosophy and you’re already acquainted with most introductory modules), or further explore the areas you already have an interest in.

You can also choose a 15-credit module from another department, which can be helpful especially if your dissertation topic is researched from different but interconnected perspectives across departments. Take me for example: I will be writing my MA dissertation in Philosophy of Language, analysing how some slurs function, so I decided to do a formal Linguistics module on the study of meaning, where I explored central topics in semantics and pragmatics.

Similarly, if there’s an undergraduate module you’re particularly interested in and relevant to your dissertation, you can always audit it (you attend the lectures and/or seminars, but you’re not assessed on it). That’s what I’ll do next semester: I will audit the third-year module Language and Oppression.

Speaking of dissertation, it’s often intimidating to think about perhaps one of the biggest research projects you’d ever do. Sadly, there’s no recipe for how to write a perfect dissertation, but you do get a lot of guidance and support on how to approach it. There’s a compulsory 2-semester MA Philosophy Research Skills module, which is tailored to your cohort, and where you receive continuous advice on how to read Philosophy, as well as feedback on your writing style. This is also where you can discuss difficult papers or not-so-straightforward arguments with your course mates.

Now, if you’re not quite sure where your philosophical interests lie (which is not uncommon), then look out for modules like Landmark Papers in Analytic Philosophy, where every week a different lecturer leads a seminar on a different topic. Here you explore diverse philosophical questions, such as:

  • Is time-travelling possible?
  • Is pornography speech?
  • Why are slurs offensive?
  • Is there any such thing as moral progress?
  • Can unorganised collectives be morally responsible?

If you’re particularly interested in more formal topics or you just want to get a taste of it, this kind of module usually incorporates some seminars on formal logic, generics, modalities and intentional language.

To be honest, here’s where I firstly considered writing on slurs: I had decided to write my 4,000-word assessed essay on this topic, only to then talk to my dissertation supervisor about it, who, after lengthy chats about potential avenues of critical engagement, suggested I wrote my dissertation on slurs instead. So, here I am, one semester in, writing on slurs!

One thing I know for sure: it’s not easy to choose the postgraduate path that best suits you, but I do think the flexibility here at Manchester and the staff in the Philosophy department will help you find your own path!