In the sections below you will find information about the graduate courses offered by the Oxford Philosophy Faculty, including the Faculty's flagship two-year Master's course, the BPhil in Philosophy. For information about the application process, please visit the Admissions Procedure and Criteria webpage. The application cycle for October 2014 entry is now CLOSED (deadline for receipt of complete applications was midnight on Friday 10 January 2014). The application cycle for October 2015 entry will open in September 2014 with an application deadline in early January 2015 (deadline to be confirmed) and an Open Day for all October 2015 offer holders in early March 2015. This deadline applies to all the Faculty’s graduate courses, and no applications can be considered beyond it. For information about fees, please visit the Fees and Funding website.
Introduction to graduate study in Philosophy
The aim of the Faculty’s graduate programmes is to prepare students for an academic career in philosophy. The usual progression through the Oxford philosophy graduate programme is to take the BPhil or one of the specialist MSts and then to continue research on the DPhil, which is examined by a thesis of approximately 75,000 only. Students who progress from the specialist MSts must spend one year as a Probationary Research Student (‘PRS’) before applying for full DPhil status. Typically, a candidate’s thesis for the BPhil or the Ancient Philosophy MSt will provide a basis for his or her DPhil thesis. There is no thesis element to the Philosophy of Physics MSt, but candidates who progress to the DPhil from that course are required to write a 20,000 word thesis during their year as a PRS. For all these degrees the student must be a matriculated member of a college, and must normally reside in Oxford for at least two years.
It is also possible to study philosophy at Oxford without being enrolled for a degree. In order to do this, you must apply for entry as a Visiting Student or Recognised Student. Information is available on the Visiting Students website and the Recognised Students website respectively.
Each year, around 40 graduate students in philosophy are admitted to Oxford. About half are admitted for the Bachelor of Philosophy in Philosophy course, the ‘BPhil’ (note that, despite its name, the BPhil is a Master's level, postgraduate degree, equivalent to a two-year MPhil) and between 6 and 10 students are admitted for each of the Faculty’s specialised Master of Studies courses, in Ancient Philosophy and Philosophy of Physics. A small number of students are admitted each year directly to the Doctor of Philosophy course (the ‘DPhil’, the Faculty’s doctoral programme), initially as Probationary Research Students. These students will typically have already completed substantial graduate work in philosophy, at least equivalent to that required for the BPhil.
BPhil in Philosophy
The BPhil is an intellectually demanding course, presupposing an undergraduate and/or graduate background in philosophy (or equivalent). It is not suitable as a conversion course for students changing to philosophy from another subject and it cannot be studied part-time or externally. It is regarded both as training for the DPhil and a basis for teaching a range of philosophical subjects and requires sustained and focused work over two years.
For a full description of the BPhil in Philosophy, please visit the BPhil in Philosophy webpage
MSt in Ancient Philosophy
The MSt course in Ancient Philosophy aims to attract students of the highest calibre - with a background in philosophy or classics - and to provide a graduate education in ancient philosophy of the highest possible quality; one which will provide a foundation on which students can go on to pursue doctoral work in the area. The course consists of two subjects (examined by a total of three 5,000 word essays) and a thesis of up to 10,000 words.
Knowledge of ancient Greek language is not a prerequisite for admission to the course. However, students admitted will be expected to achieve Intermediate Level ancient Greek, for which specialist language training can be provided by the Faculty of Classics.
Students who pass the MSt in Ancient Philosophy will have the opportunity to apply to continue to the Faculty’s DPhil (doctoral) programme, via a year as a Probationary Research Student.
For a full description of the MSt in Ancient Philosophy, please visit the MSt in Ancient Philosophy webpage.
MSt in Philosophy of Physics
This course aims to attract students with a strong background in physics at undergraduate level or higher, who wish to learn about philosophy in general and philosophy of physics in particular. The course will offer a graduate education in Philosophy of Physics of the highest possible quality, providing a foundation on which candidates can go on to pursue doctoral work in the area.
The course consists of three subjects: Philosophy of Physics, Philosophy of Science, and an elective component (chosen from the following list: Metaphysics and Theory of Knowledge; Philosophy of Mind and Action; Philosophical Logic and the Philosophy of Language; and Philosophy of Mathematics).
Students who pass the MSt in Philosophy of Physics will have the opportunity to apply to continue to the Faculty’s DPhil (doctoral) programme, via a year as a Probationary Research Student.
For a full description of the MSt in Philosophy of Physics, please visit the MSt in Philosophy of Physics webpage.
Probationary Research Student Status
An alternative route to the DPhil, involving initial admission directly as a Probationary Research Student (PRS) and later transfer to DPhil status, is available to candidates who already have a substantial background in philosophy, equivalent to that acquired in taking the BPhil. A general condition for admission of any candidate to the DPhil course is that their proposed thesis constitutes a suitable philosophical project of the required length and that there is a member of the Faculty who is able to act as supervisor.
MSt in Philosophy and MLitt in Philosophy
In addition to the BPhil, the MSts in Ancient Philosophy and Philosophy of Physics, and the DPhil, there are two other graduate degrees. The Master of Studies (MSt) in Philosophy is a one-year taught course, and the Master of Letters (MLitt) in Philosophy is a thesis-only degree of a standard more modest than the DPhil. The entry requirements for the MSt and MLitt (for transfer from PRS) are the same as for the BPhil and DPhil (for transfer from PRS) respectively. However, the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee considers applications for the MSt or MLitt degrees only in exceptional circumstances and rarely admits students to these courses. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis by the Philosophy Graduate Studies Committee.
An Open Day for all applicants who are offered a place for October 2015 will be held in mid-March at the Philosophy Centre (Radcliffe Humanities, Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, Oxford OX2 6GG). Exact time and date will be notified nearer the time.
Please visit our Graduate Funding webpage to identify various sources of funding for the Philosophy Faculty’s graduate programmes.
For a detailed description of the admissions criteria, please check the respective Graduate Admissions Criteria document below.
If you have any queries regarding graduate courses or admissions in Philosophy, please contact:
Academic Administrator for Graduate Studies
Faculty of Philosophy
Oxford, OX2 6GG
Tel: + 44 1865 276933
Fax: + 44 1865 276932