Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy

By Kevin Branigan - Last update


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Taking a postgraduate degree in philosophy will provide you with a firm understanding of the philosophical principle. Philosophy is primarily a subject studied by people who intend an academic career. However, there are a wide range of career paths for which a backgrounding philosophy could be a benefit.

Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy Trends

For statistical purposes, a postgraduate in philosophy falls under the larger umbrella title of historical and philosophical studies. In Ireland in 2015-2016, around 120 people enrolled in courses relating to historical and philosophical studies, including pure philosophy. This made historical and philosophical studies the 14th most popular subject for postgraduate study in Ireland in 2015-2016.

Research Subjects for Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy

The selection of research topic, and the eventual thesis it will lead to, will always be driven by those available within the specific curriculum. Typical research subjects for philosophy students could be:

  • Social and political theory – study of societies, and the long-term effects that law making has upon them.
  • History of philosophy and ethics – study of ethics, from a philosophical viewpoint, and the history of major philosophers upon current philosophy.
  • The philosophy of technology – the study of the philosophical aspects of technology such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML).

Specialisations in Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy

Many students who go into postgraduate education in philosophy specialise in a more focused course, applying to a single facet of philosophy. Typical areas of specialisation which would have relevant specialised courses are:

  • Ancient philosophy – study and analysis of classic philosophical works.
  • Epistemology – the study of knowledge, rationality, belief, and their interaction.
  • Ethics – the study of the many facets of right and wrong, how they interact and how they change.
  • History of philosophy – the study of ancient philosophical works and their effect upon modern academia and the human psyche.
  • Mind and cognition – a more direct approach to philosophy and how the mind works in understanding and creating thoughts.
  • Philosophy of science – a philosophical approach to studying the effects that science has on the world, including the ethics of science.

Studying Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy for Professional Reasons

Studying philosophy as a postgraduate is often undertaken without a specific career choice in mind. Many who do delve deeply into philosophy have a tendency to lean more towards academia. Philosophy is a great foundation for teachers and lecturers for example. There are also many job roles which can benefit from a background in philosophy. You will find these listed below.

Job Roles Which Completing Postgraduate Courses in Philosophy Will Open Up

As already mentioned, academic roles tend to be the forte of philosophy students such as:

  • Further education teacher – working with advanced students completing high- level studies.
  • Higher education lecturer – working with students who are just beginning their academic cycle, to master basic subjects.
  • Secondary school teacher – preparing students for entering their working life, or continuing with their studies.
    Furthermore, many additional job roles fit with the philosophical mindset, including:
  • Barrister – where a background in philosophy will help them prepare and argue their case.
  • Marketing executive – with certain aspects of philosophy imbuing knowledge on how the human thought process works.
  • Newspaper journalist – philosophy helps them to write a more compelling manner, and form more solid arguments.
  • Psychotherapist – where a background in philosophy helps them understand how the people they are treating think and feel.

This is just a short list of jobs that fit well with a philosophy background, there are many more.

In Conclusion

Philosophy is something of a difficult qualification to align with specific job roles outside of academia. However, that being said, the study of philosophy instills certain skills which can be utilized in every aspect of life. Meaning that philosophy is a valid background for a very wide range of occupations.


Kevin Branigan

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