MA Philosophy of Health and Happiness (Distance learning)

This distance learning programme focuses on the growing field of happiness and its overlap with health and wellbeing asking questions such as: What is happiness? What is health? How does illness affect our understating of what matters? Do our views about death and mortality affect how happy we are and how meaningful our lives are?

You will explore these questions at the intersection of philosophy, ethics, psychology and medicine. Our answers to them have important implications for policy and health care. This programme is aimed at graduates who have a background in philosophy, psychology, theology, health sciences, medicine or social sciences.

We also offer an on-campus programme over one or two years – for more information, see Philosophy of Health and Happiness MA.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Continuing professional development, distance learning

Study Options: Distance learning, full time, part time

Duration: 12 months full-time, up to 36 months part-time

Start date: September

Details

You will study six modules in total, three of which are core Philosophy modules (see Modules tab for descriptions):

  • Research Skills and Methods
  • Philosophy of Health and Happiness
  • God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life

Your remaining three modules are optional. The following philosophy modules are available as distance learning modules:

  • Global Ethics I
  • Global Bioethics
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science

You can also choose to do one module outside your main discipline as one of your optional modules. The following modules are available by distance learning:

  • Heritage and Memory
  • Valuing and Representing Cultural Heritage

Please note: You do have the option to take your optional module on campus, which will give you access to further modules in the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion.

You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Why study this course

The University of Birmingham has a vibrant community of philosophers, pursuing original research on a wide range of topics on which expert supervision is available. The main advantage of studying this programme by distance learning is the flexibility. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with work or family commitments.

Career changing

A qualification from the University of Birmingham can be the springboard to promotion with your current employer, the platform from which to launch a new career or simply a way to become more effective in your current role.

Studying by distance learning has the benefit of allowing you to develop your career without having to leave employment. It also means that you can apply new knowledge and insights to your working life while you are still studying; many students choose to tackle work-related topics in their dissertations.

Studying at the University of Birmingham is a rewarding and enriching experience that brings about significant personal development.

Support

Although self-study is central to doing a programme distance learning support is always available from tutors at the University. Our programmes are designed to keep you in touch with fellow students and tutors. The 'virtual learning environment' provides a focal point and helps provide a structure for your learning.

Materials

Our study materials are produced by academic staff in the specialist areas and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment'. They contain aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with a handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need including email addresses so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Personal tutors

You will be assigned a personal tutor. Personal tutors are available to answer questions regarding the content of your programme, and also to give advice and provide clarification if you don't understand something, for example what an assignment question demands.

Modules

You will study three core Philosophy modules: 

Research Skills and Methods

This module consists of ten sessions of core skills, which will include generic research skills as well as looking at discipline-specific topics.  

Philosophy of Health and Happiness

The module will examine debates at the forefront of current research in the philosophy of health and happiness. You will explore conceptual problems (e.g. what ‘health’ and ‘disease’ are) and question contemporary lifestyle issues (for instance, regarding how health, happiness and meaning relate, as well as whether there is a correlation between income and life satisfaction). You will also be asked to consider how technological advances (such as those in genetics) are changing these understandings.  

God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life

The module provides an introduction to a number of philosophical issues that have a relevance to the philosophy of religion, such as: Are there sound arguments for/against the existence of God? Is freedom compatible with God's foreknowledge? Why is there something rather than nothing? Is life meaningless without God? Can there be morality without God?

Your remaining three modules are optional. The following philosophy modules are available as distance learning modules:

Global Ethics I

This module aims to introduce you to key concepts and debates in global ethics. First, we will explore several prominent traditions in ethical theory; next we will apply these normative ethical theories to concrete ethical questions. In investigating these theories and applications, you will be encouraged to question your presumptions about the nature of ethics and moral values. The module also develops critical reasoning and argumentative skills through philosophical discussion and writing. The theoretical tools of analysis and argument can be applied in all aspects of global ethics.

Global Bioethics

This module introduces you to the increasing number of dilemmas in bioethics that cross national boundaries and transcend domestic regulation. Bioethical dilemmas, whether arising from scientific and technological developments or from the research practices of pharmaceutical companies, raise issues which cannot be effectively addressed at national or regional levels. Bioethics clearly calls for global solutions to what are global dilemmas and you will be introduced to some of the key bioethical issues which arise in the contemporary global context.

Philosophy of Cognitive Science

This module covers a range of advanced topics in empirically-informed philosophy of mind. In any given year, some of the following topics will be addressed in detail: theories of intentionality; differences between human and animal cognition; pathologies of belief such as delusions and self-deception; theories of emotion; accounts of cognitive rationality; the relationship between ownership and authorship of thoughts; the narrative view of the self; the psychology of wisdom and expertise.  

You can also choose to do one module outside your main discipline as one of your optional modules:

Heritage and Memory

Valuing and Representing Cultural Heritage

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2014/15 are as follows:

  •  Home/EU: £5,940 full-time, £2,970 part-time 
  •  Overseas: £13,665 full-time, £6,832.50 part-time

Please note: The part-time programme can be completed over up to three years, but fees are payable over two years; in each of years 1 and 2, the fee payable will be half the full-time rate.  

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

Entry requirements

The programme allows for multi-disciplinary entry. You need an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in Philosophy or other relevant subjects (Medicine, Politics, Psychology, English, etc.) or a Joint Honours degree of which Philosophy or another relevant subject is a component.

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Learning and teaching


Transcript

Although much of the course is delivered through our ‘virtual learning environment,’ support is always available. You will have a personal tutor and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you have access to a wide range of online resources too.

You also have the opportunity to meet other students and academic staff through online chats and discussion forums.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).

Employability

The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Our Philosophy graduates develop a range of skills including, good articulation, precise analytical thought, and the ability to analyse and construct sounds arguments, which can be used in a variety of occupations. A snapshot of graduate destinations over a five-year period has identified a variety of career paths, from the civil service to finance. Historically, over 96% of our Philosophy students have been in employment or further study within six months of graduating.