MA/Diploma Philosophy of Religion and Ethics

Do you want to explore deeper the key issues in the field of philosophy of religion and ethics?  

Are you looking to develop your professional or academic career path? 

On the MA Philosophy of Religion and Ethics programme you will explore a variety of questions - for example: Are there shared human values? How do we negotiate different belief systems in pluralistic societies? Is there a conflict between science and religion? Do people with different religious views have the same morals? Is life without God meaningless? You will be taught by a vibrant community of philosophers, pursuing original research on a wide range of topics on which expert supervision is available. This programme can also be used as a route into PhD research.

We also offer this programme by distance learning - for more information, see Philosophy of Religion and Ethics MA (Distance Learning). The qualification you will gain is the same whichever mode of study you choose.

 

College of Arts and Law postgraduate scholarships available

The College of Arts and Law is offering a range of scholarships for our postgraduate taught and research programmes to ensure that the very best talent is nurtured and supported.

Learn more about our scholarships

You will study six taught modules in total, and complete a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

Core modules

You will study two core Philosophy modules:

  • God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life
  • Bioethics or Ethics and Global Ethics

You will also study a core module in theory and methods: Research Skills and Methods (for Philosophy) if you are writing a dissertation in Philosophy, or Research Methods in Theology and the Study of Religion if you are writing a dissertation in Theology and Religion.

Optional modules

Your remaining three modules are optional, and can be chosen from across the School of Philosophy, Theology and Religion, including at least one from each Department. Modules available typically include:

  • God in Christian Philosophy
  • Islamic Philosophy 
  • Philosophy of Health and Happiness
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Religion in Contemporary Global Politics I and II
  • Religious Nationalism

Further module information is available below.

Assessment

Modules are assessed by written assignment. MA students will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation, or a placement-based dissertation, with support from a supervisor.

Why study this course

  • Taught by experts – you will study alongside some of the finest minds in Philosophy. Times Higher Education ranked the Department of Philosophy second in the country for its performance in the latest Research Excellence Framework exercise.
  • Friendly and relaxed atmosphere – staff within the Department of Philosophy are very approachable and happy to offer additional advice on academic performance.
  • Small classes – teaching on the masters-level modules involve mainly small-group seminars allowing you to really get to grips with the learning material. 
  • Be a part of an active postgraduate community – you will join a lively and stimulating Department where you can contribute to on-going research activities, including research seminars and events such as our weekly speaker series and various workshops, reading groups and conferences throughout the year. 
  • Access to a wide range of services – as a postgraduate student you will have access to services such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work which will aid your transition from undergraduate to postgraduate level, or back into academia after a time away. 

Modules

Core modules

You will study three core modules:

God, Freedom and the Meaning of Life

This module is an introduction to a number of philosophical issues that have a relevance to the philosophy of religion, such as: freedom and determinism, the existence of god and the meaning of life. The treatment of the areas covered will often involve discussion of the writings of central figures in the history of philosophy.
Assessment: One or two written assignments totalling 4,000 words

Plus, one of:

Bioethics

Bioethics is the study of ethical issues surrounding life and death, especially those involved in biology, health care, research, and the beginning and end of life. This course introduces students to the key debates surrounding a number of theoretical and practical issues in bioethics, including but not limited to those that are transnational in nature. Possible topics covered include: abortion, euthanasia, intellectual property, enhancement, commodification, resource allocation and rationing, and infectious disease control.
Assessment: One or two written assignments totalling 4,000 words

Or

Ethics and Global Ethics

This module aims to introduce you to key concepts and debates in ethics, with some focus on the global dimension of current ethical problems. 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 ethics and global ethics.
Assessment: One or two written assignments totalling 4,000 words

And one of:

Research Skills and Methods

This module provides an introduction to the methods of contemporary philosophy. Topics addressed typically include: critical thinking in philosophy, reading in philosophy, research skills, dissertation planning, and presenting philosophical arguments in written work. You will also participate in online sessions focused on generic research skills.
Assessment: Two 2,000-word essays

Or

Research Methods in the Study of Religion

This module unpacks the core issues of researching in theology and religious studies.It addresses debates surrounding the design, conduct, ethics and evaluation of research in a multidisciplinary subject area. It prepares you to carry out independent research and to critically assess others’ research across a wide spectrum of approaches.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Optional modules

You will also choose three optional modules from within Philosophy, Theology and Religion, including at least one from the Department of Philosophy and one from the Department of Theology and Religion. Modules available typically include:

Philosophy

You can also choose Bioethics or Ethics and Global Ethics, if not taken as core.

Theology and Religion

Dissertation

In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a
supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.


Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2019/20 are as follows:

MA

  • UK/EU: £9,250 full-time; £4,625 part-time
  • Overseas: £17,910 full-time

Diploma

  • UK/EU: £6,167 full-time; £3,083 part-time
  • Overseas: £17,910 full-time

The above fees quoted are for one year only; for those studying over two or more years, tuition fees will also be payable in subsequent years of your programme.

Fee status

Eligibility for UK/EU or international fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students.

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2019/20 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2019/20 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition 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.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

Entry requirements

You will need an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, preferably in Philosophy, Theology or another relevant subject (e.g. Sociology, English).

If your undergraduate degree is in another subject, you are still very welcome to apply. We consider every application on its merits and we are happy to consider applicants with diverse academic backgrounds. Your level of academic achievement, letters of reference, and personal statement will all have strong influence on our decision. We may also require you to submit a writing sample. This should be around 3-4 pages long, and although it does not need to be a Philosophy essay, it should provide strong evidence of your potential for the type of discursive, analytical, writing that is required in Philosophy at postgraduate level.

We ask you to submit two academic references as part of your application, but if you have been out of academia for some time we will also accept a professional reference in addition to one academic reference.

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

Please review our Entry Requirements before making your application.

Application deadlines

International students requiring visas

Monday 1 July 2019 is the application deadline for international students who require a visa to study in the United Kingdom. We are not able to consider applications for 2019 made after this date - a new application should be made for September 2020. Applications will reopen for 2020 entry in early October 2019.

UK/EU students

Please apply by Friday 30 August 2019. However, we would encourage you to apply at the earliest opportunity, to allow adequate time to prepare for starting your studies once receiving a decision on your application.

Late applicants are encouraged to contact the Admissions Tutor for advice.

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

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

As well as the taught modules you take on this programme, you are encouraged to participate in our weekly Postgraduate Seminar and in the regular meetings of PhilSoc, so you'll be able to gain insight from a range of academics and peers from across the department. 

Course delivery

You will take six taught modules and MA students will write a 15,000-word dissertation. We have two 11-week teaching terms per year, the autumn term and spring term. Term dates can be found on our website. Modules run for one term, and each module involves a two-hour weekly seminar which you are required to attend. 

In addition to the weekly seminars, you will have to allow adequate study time for each of your modules. Each module represents a total of 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, homework and assignment preparation, and attending seminars.

Studying full-time

You will spread your module work over the two teaching terms, ideally studying three modules in each term. However, this depends on your module choices and it is also possible to study two in one term and four in another. Most of the work for the MA dissertation takes place in the summer term. 

Studying part-time

If you do a part-time programme, you spread your modules over four teaching terms (autumn and spring of year one, and autumn and spring of year two). The MA dissertation will be completed in year two; again, most of this work takes place in the summer term.

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: Philosophy

Birmingham's Philosophy postgraduates develop a range of skills that are highly desirable in the job market, including: articulacy; precise analytical thought; clarity; rigour in formulating complex problems; and the ability to analyse and construct sound arguments.

Over the past three years, over 91% of Philosophy postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Due to the transferable nature of their skills, Philosophy postgraduates traditionally enter a wide range of employment areas, from teaching and lecturing to social work. Employers that graduates have gone on to work for include: BBC; Friends of the Earth; Birmingham Children?s Hospital; Highways England; Ministry of Justice; and University of Birmingham.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.