Philosophy (Conversion Programme) MLitt

University of Glasgow main building

This degree will enable you, if you don’t already have a degree in analytic philosophy, to gain in-depth knowledge of the core areas of the subject and to acquire the key research skills for pursuing and developing your own philosophical interests.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • The study of philosophy at Glasgow builds on a prestigious history that includes the achievements of great thinkers such as Francis Hutcheson, Adam Smith and Thomas Reid.
  • Today, we continue their tradition of free enquiry and intellectual innovation through our teaching and research, including the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience and the Forum for Philosophy and Religion.
  • There is a host of regular research seminars, workshops, conferences and reading groups on a wide variety of philosophical topics that you will also be able to attend.
  • There are many opportunities to participate in our flourishing philosophical community. There is a weekly postgraduate seminar and an annual reading party where you will present papers and receive personalized feedback from staff and fellow students.
  • You will receive tuition and close support from our welcoming and supportive staff, enabling you to draw upon their internationally recognised expertise in the subject.

Dr. Ben Colburn: Moral and Political Philosophy

Dr. Ben Colburn: Moral and Political Philosophy

Professor Fiona Macpherson: Philosophy of Perception

Professor Fiona Macpherson: Philosophy of Perception

Dr. David Bain: Philosophy of Mind

Dr. David Bain: Philosophy of Mind

Professor Fraser MacBride: Metaphysics

Professor Fraser MacBride: Metaphysics

Programme structure

The programme has three components:

1. Introduction to Analytic Philosophy (40 credits)
2. Four optional courses drawn from the following range of subjects (20 credits each):

  • moral philosophy
  • epistemology
  • political philosophy
  • metaphysics
  • philosophy of language
  • philosophy of logic and mathematics
  • origins of analytic philosophy
  • philosophy of religion
  • philosophy of Scottish enlightenment.

3. a dissertation guided by individual support from an expert supervisor (60 credits).

Core and Optional courses

The course is driven by a core introductory course in Analytic Philosophy, complemented by optional courses drawn from the following range of subjects.

Moral Philosophy

We all have moral beliefs: we shake our heads disapprovingly when we see someone damaging public property or we hear of an acquaintance who has been disloyal or dishonest; we are outraged when we read on the internet of mass murder or wartime atrocities; and so on.  But are these beliefs rational, justified?  What could justify them?  Do they concern matters of fact or are they mere opinions?  Is there to be found a small number of general principles -- like the ten commandments -- which underlie all our particular moral judgements and reactions?  These important and difficult questions are at the heart of ethics.  Studying ethics will help you to think more clearly and systematically about your moral commitments.


Epistemology, in essence, is the study of what we ought to believe.  Sometimes, epistemologists take an interest in quite specific questions about this, such as 'Given present evidence, should we believe that global warming is the result of human activity?', 'If I have an intense religious experience, should I believe in the existence of God?', 'Should we believe that a defendant is guilty of a criminal offence on the testimony of a single eye-witness?'  Other times, epistemologists deal with things at a greater level of abstraction, seeking general conditions under which a subject might be justified in believing a given claim.  Epistemology has sometimes been portrayed as the foundation of all philosophy - as 'first philosophy' as it's sometimes put.  Whatever one makes of this, it's clear that epistemology is something that touches upon virtually every other area of philosophy.  And, as the above questions suggest, it also impacts upon a number of fields beyond philosophy and on a number of aspects of our daily lives.

Political Philosophy

Have you ever wondered why you ought to obey the commands of the state? One reason is that if you don't the police will come and take you away. But do you have other reasons, reasons that go beyond self-interest, to obey the state? Do your reasons change depending on the character of the state. For example, do you only have reason to obey the state if it is just? And, then, what makes a state just anyway? These questions, questions about our reasons for obeying the state and what makes political arrangements good, bad, just or unjust, are the questions that political philosophy addresses.


Metaphysics – traditionally called “first philosophy” – aims to give a comprehensive account of the basic categories of things. Do we need to recognize abstract objects in addition to the more familiar concrete ones? Additionally, it tries to illuminate a number of highly general and yet philosophically puzzling phenomena. What is the relationship between an object and its properties? Is time fundamentally analagous to space? How can we understand the relationship between a cause and its effect? What does it mean to say that some things must be the way they are, while others might have been different?

Philosophy of Language

Some people have thought that the philosophy of language is fundamental to all philosophy.  Some reasons for this: (1) As philosophers we can ask ‘What is Justice?’, or ‘What the nature of Justice?’; but we can also ask “What is the meaning of the word ‘Justice’?”.  Questions about the essence of a thing can seemingly be transformed into questions of conceptual analysis, the meaning of words.  (2) Language expresses thought.  The study of language is one way to study thought—its character, its structure, and its relation to the world. Some philosophers even think that thought presupposes language. (3) Language represents the world.  The study of the more general or abstract features of language might be thought to reveal the more general or abstract features of the world.  (4) The analysis of language enables us to understand what clarity is.  Since one of the defining features of philosophy is its struggle to clarify difficult, contentious, or otherwise problematic ideas, the enterprise assists philosophy in its task.

Philosophy of Logic & Mathematics

One reason for looking at mathematics from a philosophical standpoint arises from the naturalistic framework so widespread in contemporary intellectual life. Naturalism, roughly speaking, takes the methods of natural science as the only route to knowledge and understanding and acknowledges as constituents of reality only that which is confirmed by science. Mathematics poses a difficult problem for naturalists: on the one hand, science is thoroughly saturated with mathematics, not just the hard sciences but also the social sciences. On the other, the methods of mathematics, in particular the key role played by supposedly self-evident axioms “intuited” as true (compare divine revelations) look very different from the empirical sciences; and the results of science seem to confirm the existence of very weird entities: abstract objects outside space and time.

Our philosophical investigations of mathematics, with a view to seeing whether it can be reconciled with naturalism and other problems, do not presuppose much more than high school science. A little logical knowledge also helps, and of course the philosophy of logic is a related and very important area. What could be more important, indeed, for philosophers for whom rational inquiry is supposed to be at the heart of our enterprise, than rational inquiry into the nature of rational inquiry itself.? This is one way to view the business of philosophy of logic.

Origins of Analytic Philosophy

It was towards the end of 1898 that Moore and Russell rebelled against idealism-the prevailing world-view that denies us the privilege of approaching reality unadorned by our embellishments upon it because the world-in-itself is an inscrutable 'something' hidden behind the phantasmagoria of our representations. But Moore and Russell wanted an account of how thinking subjects are situated in the world that maximized, rather than minimized, our exposure to what's really out there. They designed their revolutionary new philosophy to fit this brief, a form of realism according to which our minds engage directly with what exists irrespective of us, where there is no risk of our contaminating what we cognize with our own subjectivity. According to the resulting world-view that replaced idealism, what exists is a plurality of mutually independent things configured by a plethora of ultimate and irreducible relations. Wittgenstein's Tractatus-Logico-Philosophicus was the distillation of Moore and Russell’s programme.

Philosophy of Religion

Philosophers of religion use the tools of analytic philosophy to examine the core claims of the world’s major religious traditions, both Eastern and Western. Does God exist? How might God be related to the material world? If God exists, how could we know it? These are just some of the questions that interest philosophers of religion. Other questions, rather than focusing on God, concern the nature of the self: Is our idea of the self merely a convenient fiction, as many Buddhists hold? Does our experience of ourselves as physical beings with particular spatial and temporal properties disguise our real nature, which lacks these features, as many Hindus claim? In considering possible answers to such questions, philosophers of religion draw from other core areas of philosophy, particularly epistemology and metaphysics.

Philosophy of Scottish Enlightenment

Anyone wishing to understand how the modern world developed should look to the Enlightenment: as science as we now recognise it was emerging through the works of Boyle, Newton and the like, philosophers were grappling with the implications of this for the study of the human mind.  Nowhere was this more apparent than in Scotland, where two of the most influential philosophers of the period, David Hume and Thomas Reid, were engaged in the systematic study of human nature. Despite both taking the new scientific methodology as a starting point, Hume and Reid disagree fundamentally on issues such as: the nature and functioning of the mind; where the limits of human knowledge lie; what it means to act freely in a law-governed world, and what kinds of causation should feature in our ultimate explanation of reality.  Understanding the grounds of these disputes can serve to shed light on current disputes in the subject, many of which have origins in the writings of these two influential Scots.

What our students say

"Reading, reasoning, analyzing, and judging are at the heart of most work in the 21st century. The MLitt conversion degree helped me strengthen these intellectual skills. And as a result I have become a much clearer thinker and a much better professional writer."

Christopher Reid, writer

“The MLitt Conversion Masters and PhD at Glasgow equipped me with the knowledge and skills required for pursuing a career in Philosophy. The teaching, supervision, and research are excellent. And the social life is really quite special. You will be a member of a thriving and supportive intellectual community. I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Dr. Robert Cowen, Department of Philosophy, University of Warwick

"As an academic psychologist and practitioner consultant organizational psychologist, I found the MLitt conversion philosophy degree an extremely valuable experience. I consider it has provided me with a greatly improved ability to critically evaluate the theoretical models in psychology as well as the broader frameworks of the alternative paradigms in my field. I cannot recommend the course strongly enough. The philosophers at Glasgow University deliver an exceptional educational experience."

Dr. Renée Bleau, Chartered Psychologist


Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject unless otherwise specified.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training):

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.5
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 22 with Speaking no less than 23
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 176
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 64; minimum 62 in writing

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses
The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

Philosophy students at Glasgow receive rigorous and personalised training in problem solving skills, writing skills, presentation and research skills.

All these skills are widely applicable and recognised to be exceptionally valuable in a wide range of careers, including journalism, teaching, the Civil Service, local government, business, publishing, law, and the arts.

You will also be well equipped to carry onto a further degree in philosophy such as the PhD.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now