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Philosophy 60 EC: Moral and Political Philosophy

Structure of the programme

The MA Philosophy 60 EC: Moral and Political Philosophy consists of the following components:

Core Seminar (10 EC)

Students complete one mandatory core seminar in practical philosophy.

Optional courses (in total 30 EC)

Students follow three optional courses (each 10 EC).

Please be informed that students can only take the optional courses selected for the specialisation to which they have been admitted. Students holding a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Leiden University may, however, also take optional courses selected for the specialisations Modern European Philosophy, or Philosophy of Knowledge, provided that the core seminar and at least one of the three optional courses of their programme belong to the specialisation Moral and Political Philosophy. Not more than two courses can have the same instructor. Course topics for electives are varying from year to year.

Master’s thesis, thesis seminar, and final exam (20 EC)

The MA programme will be concluded by a master’s thesis of 20 EC. The master’s thesis is an independent academic contribution to philosophy in the field of Moral and Political Philosophy. Students follow the mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written. Before graduation students sit for a final exam for which they defend their thesis.


Students follow three courses in their first semester. In their second semester they take the fourth course, follow the thesis seminar and write their master’s thesis. Students starting in February will take the core seminar in their second semester.

Further information

For additional information concerning objectives of the programme, the master’s thesis and requirements for graduation, see more info.


Vak EC Semester 1 Semester 2

Core Seminar

Practical Philosophy: Contemporary Debates 10

Optional courses Moral and Political Philosophy

Students select three optional courses.

Distributive Justice 10
Practical Judgement 10
Freedom or Equality? 10
Core Concepts in Political Philosophy 10
Philosophy of Law, Governance, and Politics: the Question of Law 10
Transparency, Secrecy and Privacy in Democratic Societies 10


Students may choose to replace one of the three optional courses by an internship.

Internship MA Philosophy 10

MA Thesis

Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Fall) 0
Thesis Seminar Philosophy (Spring) 0
MA Thesis Philosophy 60 EC 20


What's Next? First Steps in Crafting Your Career (MA) 2

More info

Objectives and achievement levels

Knowledge and understanding

  1. knowledge and understanding of systematic philosophy and its history, as well as developments in contemporary philosophy, surpassing the level of the bachelor's programme, that form the basis for independent development and application of original ideas, understanding and analyses;
  2. knowledge and understanding of recent developments in the field of their specialisation:
  • Global and Comparative Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of one or more non-Western philosophical traditions, their history, and their reception and its inter-cultural dimensions, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Global and Comparative Perspectives.

  • Modern European Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of the history of Western philosophy, in particular the German and French traditions of the 19th and 20th century, and their reception, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Filosofie van mens, techniek en cultuur [Philosophy of Mind, Culture and Technology].

  • Moral and Political Philosophy: knowledge and understanding of theoretical ethics, metaethics, methods of normative philosophy and the history of moral and political philosophy, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Ethiek en politieke filosofie [Ethics and Political Philosophy].

  • Philosophical Perspectives on Politics and the Economy: knowledge and understanding of the normative and systematic philosophical foundations of political and economic systems, theories and debates within applied philosophy and contemporary political philosophy.

  • Philosophy of Knowledge: knowledge and understanding of theoretical philosophy, in particular epistemology, metaphysics, logic, and the philosophy of science, their history, as well as contemporary developments in this field, surpassing that of the BA specialisation Theoretische Filosofie [Theoretical Philosophy].

Applying knowledge and understanding

  • the ability, on the basis of the knowledge and understanding of philosophy they have acquired, to contribute to current discussions in philosophy and related areas;

  • the ability to demonstrate specific and transferable skills in an academic and/or a professional environment;

  • the ability to develop a personal and professional profile for employability in a future career.


  • the ability, on the basis of the sound knowledge of philosophy acquired during the programme, to analyse complex philosophical problems;

  • the abilty to judge the reliability of different kinds of sources;

  • to forme judgements based on different kinds of sources;

  • a realistic view of the reliability of their conclusions;

  • the ability to integrate different approaches to philosophical questions and compare these with each other.


  • the ability to give a clear presentation of philosophical problems, ideas, theories, interpretations and arguments, for specialist audiences as well as for a general audience;

  • the ability to write philosophical papers at an academic level.

Learning skills

  • the possession of learning skills that allow graduates to continue their study of philosophy, and to formulate a research proposal for a PhD.



  • Core seminar, mandatory for the chosen specialisation (10 EC)

  • Three optional courses (each 10 EC)

  • MA thesis, Thesis seminar, and MA exam/thesis defence (20 EC)

The subject of the thesis must belong to the field of the chosen specialisation. Students follow the mandatory thesis seminar during the semester in which the thesis is being written.

One of the optional courses (i.e. max. 10 EC) can be replaced by an internship. Any extra credits that have been obtained for the internship will be recorded as extra-curricular components on the diploma supplement.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed all components of the MA Philosophy 60 EC programme and have completed their final thesis of max. 20,000 words as a component of that programme. The master’s thesis is an independent academic contribution to philosophy in the field of the chosen specialisation.

See further course description MA Thesis Philosophy 60 EC


The MA Philosophy 60 EC consists of the following specialisations:

Follow-on programmes

In addition to their MA programme in Philosophy 60 EC students who have obtained a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy as well are qualified to follow the teacher-training in Philosophy: a preparation for a career in high school education or in MBO (intermediate vocational) education. On completion of this MA programme students obtain a second master’s degree and a high-school teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid) in philosophy. Please note that students who have completed an Educational Minor as their optional subject, are allowed to follow a fast-track Educational Master’s Programme (30 EC instead of 60 EC). For more information, see ICLON

Students awarded a master’s degree are eligible to pursue a doctorate. Information about the PhD programme is available on the institute’s website.

Career Preparation

Career preparation in the MA Philosophy 60 EC

The programme

The MA Philosophy 60 EC at Leiden is a one-year master’s programme that integrates historical and systematic approaches in philosophy. The MA Philosophy 60 EC consists of five specialisations. In each specialisation, the programme offers a sophisticated knowledge of the field’s traditional and recent philosophical developments, as well as an advanced training in philosophical methodologies and skills.

The intellectual skills students will develop in the MA Philosophy 60 EC are transferable to most non-philosophical professions. The programme will train students to become a critical thinker, capable of analysing complex ideas and evaluating the principles of various positions. Students will study, analyse and discuss primary philosophical texts, and learn to develop and communicate their ideas both orally and in writing.

How can you use this knowledge and the skills that you acquire? Which specialisation should you choose within your study programme and why? What skills do you already have, and what further skills do you still want to learn? How do you translate the courses that you choose into something that you would like to do after graduation?

These questions and more will be discussed at various times during your study programme. You may already have spoken about them with your study coordinator, the Humanities Career Service or other students, or made use of the Leiden University Career Zone. Many different activities are organised to help you reflect on your own wishes and options, and give you the chance to explore the job market. All these activities are focused on the questions: ‘What can I do?’, ‘What do I want?’ and ‘How do I achieve my goals?’.


You will be notified via the Faculty website, your study programme website and email about further activities in the area of job market preparation. The following activities will help you to thoroughly explore your options, so we advise you to take careful note of them:

Transferable skills

Future employers are interested not only in the subject-related knowledge that you acquired during your study programme, but also in the ‘transferable skills’. These include cognitive skills, such as critical thinking, reasoning and argumentation and innovation; intrapersonal skills, such as flexibility, initiative, appreciating diversity and metacognition; and interpersonal skills, such as communication, accountability and conflict resolution. In short, they are skills that all professionals need in order to perform well.

It is therefore important that during your study programme you not only acquire as much knowledge as possible about your subject, but also are aware of the skills you have gained and the further skills you still want to learn. The course descriptions in the e-Prospectus of the MA Philosophy 60 EC include, in addition to the courses’ learning objectives, a list of the skills that they aim to develop.

The skills you may encounter in the various courses are:

  • Collaboration

  • Persuasion

  • Research

  • Self-directed learning

  • Creative thinking

Courses of the MA Philosophy 60 EC

Courses of the study programme obviously help to prepare you for the job market. As a study programme, we aim to cover this topic either directly or less directly in each semester. Within the MA Philosophy, this takes place within, for example, the following courses:

In addition students may follow an extra-curriculair module that will be offerewd by the Honours Acamedy:


If you have any questions about career choices, whether in your studies or on the job market, you are welcome to make an appointment with the career adviser of the Humanities Career Service 071-5272235, or with your Coordinator of Studies, Patsy Casse.