What Our Students Say

What Our Students Say

Jim Scott, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2010-11

Being converted
Having entered the course from a business school background (a degree in leisure management), I was apprehensive about how successful the conversion between disciplines would be. A number of key differences quickly became clear. The focus of essays shifted from attempting to show a broad understanding of the existing literature, to narrowing in on a single issue to be discussed in depth. One’s own point of view, supported by a valid and sound argument, became more important than summarising the work of a multitude of academics. This change, while initially disconcerting, allowed me to engage with and develop my own thoughts and ideas, rather than simply hide behind those of others. As a result of this change, I feel that my academic ability has evolved and progressed. While I am sure that if I were to return to my original discipline I would be able to apply the skills learnt within the conversion course at Glasgow, it has instead fostered a desire or need to continue studying philosophy. Furthermore, having completed the course, I feel that I would prove to be an asset to an employer as a result of my improved ability to understand, analyse and respond to information as it is presented to me.

Option classes
The option classes, which constituted a large part of the program, demonstrate where the separations between different philosophical disciplines are drawn. Attending the lectures allowed me to become aware of where my specific interests lay. The courses I took were universally taught in a way which was clear and engaging. The possibility of auditing (rather than officially enrolling on) a course is encouraged and this provided an excellent opportunity to widen the breadth of my education while at Glasgow. It should be noted that a certain amount of knowledge is assumed in lectures, due to the fact that the majority of students in attendance have already studied philosophy for at least two years at an undergraduate level. This can be unnerving at first, but once past the initial shock it is possible to develop an understanding from the context.  It is through writing two papers for each of these courses that I came to develop the analytical skills required of a philosopher. While students are welcome to choose any subject within the field (under advisement) as the focus of these essays, I found completing a set question for the first, and then my own for the second, to be the way forward. In this way I was able to find my feet within the specific area, before focusing on the question which was of greatest interest to me. The standard required was high, but the feedback provided was invaluable and enabled me to achieve a clear improvement between the beginning and end of the course.

The Graduate Community
As a member of the conversion course I felt welcomed into the graduate philosophical community at Glasgow. Among the benefits was the opportunity to attend two weekly seminars. During the seminars, papers are given by professional philosophers and postgraduate students respectively. It is from these seminars that I developed an understanding of what it was to ‘be a philosopher.’ The question sessions demonstrate the level of critical scrutiny which your work will be placed under. From these seminars I realised the importance of closely examining my own work for weaknesses in the arguments I was delineating. It should be noted that I often found the seminars to be mentally overwhelming, as I was experiencing a culture and language with which I was not familiar. However, the old adage about immersion being the best way to learn a foreign language holds true in this case. It was immensely satisfying to note a tangible week-on-week improvement in my ability to follow the arguments and subsequent debate.

The education I received during the year was not only formal. A huge amount of my understanding was derived from conversations with other postgraduate students and lecturers outside lectures, tutorials or seminars. There is no sense in which conversion students are treated differently to those who have already studied philosophy. I found that any position I offered was placed under the same level of scrutiny as anyone else’s!

The conversion course was one of the most challenging experiences of my life. However I found it to be equally rewarding. I have noticed a tangible positive difference in the way in which I think, as a result of having studied at Glasgow. I would wholeheartedly recommend the MLitt Conversion Course in Philosophy to anyone who has a serious interest in the subject, but lacks prior formal philosophical training.

John Donaldson, PhD, 2007 - 2011:

Glasgow really has it all: a friendly and accessible atmosphere in the department which is fostered by the healthy size of the post-graduate community (not too big, not too small), consisting of a diverse body of high-quality students; an excellent faculty, who are keen to interact with students both professionally and socially, a process aided by the regular high-quality senior and post-graduate seminars and their attendant social events. The Department also boasts a location in the centre of Glasgow's West-End, the beating heart of one of Europe's best places for cultural life and bohemian city living. What more could a person ask for?

Stuart Crutchfield, MSc in Philosophy, 2005-2006; PhD 2006-2010:

As well as the various talks and other colloquia that take place, at which graduate students are always made to feel very welcome, the department's being home to the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience means that graduate students have chance to be involved in genuinely cutting-edge work that is done on the subject of the philosophy of perception. Working as part of the Centre has allowed me to participate in this cutting-edge work, and to meet some of the top philosophers in my field, as well as gain invaluable experience in the organising of talks and conferences. The Centre has also run two graduate conferences ('The Varieties of Experience' in July 2009 and the 'Interdisciplinary Graduate Conference on Perception' in October 2005), which have been organised and run by graduate students, giving students a chance to meet and work with other graduate students working in the area of philosophy of perception.

Andrew MacGregor, MSc in Philosophy, 2007-2008; PhD 2008 - 2013:

Studying for the Specialist MLitt at Glasgow was truly a mind-altering experience. Although my mind will never seem the same again, the after-effects have been overwhelmingly positive. Notable characteristics of the experience were an urge to socialise and engage in intense conversation, leading to periods of confusion interspersed with moments of illumination. Friendly and insightful staff were on hand to guide one through the process without undue discomfort. One caveat - given I am now working on a PhD, it appears that the experience may be habit-forming.

Neil McDonnell, MSc in Philosophy, 2008-2009; PhD 2010 - 2014:

I enjoyed my specialist MLitt immensely. Between the departmental and postgraduate seminars a considerable breadth of philosophical terrain was covered and in the MLitt seminars the focus was so tight, and the teaching so individual, that topics could be thoroughly, deeply, studied. A lively social scene, and an entirely approachable faculty, ensured that this year was what university should be: stimulating, enlightening and fun. I feel thoroughly prepared and motivated for a PhD after this course.

Sheena McAnulla, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2007-2009, part-time:

I've thoroughly enjoyed my two years doing an MLitt 1, the conversion course for non-philosophers, part-time (essay deadlines excepted).  For anyone with an interest in philosophy, it's a great way to broaden and deepen your knowledge and understanding. The staff are very approachable and very helpful, and the post-graduate students are a very friendly bunch.  It's great to be surrounded by people who are also interested in philosophy and to get the chance to talk and argue about philosophical issues.  The seminars were a great opportunity to hear current ideas being discussed. I'd recommend the course and the University to anyone who is interested in Philosophy.

Andrea Giananti, MSc in Philosophy, 2008-2009:

As an international student, I was very curious about the way of doing philosophy in the UK, and what I found in Glasgow was satisfying and challenging. The staff are competent, friendly, and committed to their work. The supervision I’ve been receiving both for my taught courses and during the drafting of the dissertation was helpful and stimulating. Also, through the seminars organized by the Department, I got the opportunity of being confronted with the work of many other students and visiting speakers. Above all, I feel I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve made my way of doing philosophy much more accurate than it was before.

Srdjan Grbic, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2007-2008, PhD 2008 - present:

I am happy to have taken the MLitt 1 course. The subjects were very interesting, the staff more than helpful, and I find myself enthusiastic about studying philosophy here.

David Macknet, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2007-2008:

I find that doing the M-Litt has changed the way I look at things, has caused me to sharpen my skills at reading and writing, has introduced a certain rigour into my study, and continues to serve me well as I go on to pursue a PhD.

Alex Feldt, MSc in Philosophy, 2006-2007:

Not knowing exactly what to expect from the program at Glasgow, I have to say that my year there turned out to be exactly what I was looking for. My tutorials were challenging and pushed my to greatly improve my philosophical abilities during the course of the year. Being able to gear my tutorials and my work to my interests was a definite draw to the program and something that I came to greatly appreciate. I also don’t think I could have had better supervisors to work with. The other postgraduates and the faculty truly make the department a community that is both intellectually challenging and still extremely supportive. I simply don’t think that I could have asked for any more from my time in the department, and it was the perfect lead in to starting my PhD back in the States.

Akiko Frischhut, MSc in Philosophy, 2006-2007; PhD student (joint at the University of Geneva) 2008 - present:

The supervisors for the MLitt courses are very helpful and committed. The atmosphere in the department is great, and the postgraduate seminars are especially good at building a strong sense of community among students and lecturers.

Ross Heatherington, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2006-2007; PhD student 2007 - present:

Having come from a background outside philosophy, I doubt that I could ask much more of a conversion course than the MLitt1 at Glasgow. The well pitched balance between core and option courses, individual tuition and seminars speaks volumes of experience that the department has at running the degree. The work load is high but not overwhelming, and individuals with different goals entering the course will be pleased to discover they have ample opportunity to tailor their study to suit their personal goals. Given my goal is to pursue further research in the area, I have found the intergrated and supportive community formed by the postgraduates and staff to be both friendly, bereft of snobbery, and intellectually stimulating and encouraging.

Torsten Mueller, MSc in Philosophy, 2006-2007:

I don’t know what I like better about Glasgow: the philosophy they do or the way they do it. If you’re coming to Glasgow, expect highly challenging and demanding academic standards but also a very supportive environment. You will be taught in close supervision and the personal tuition is second to none. You’re likely to meet some of the brightest minds and, due to a thriving intellectual exchange with faculties all over the world, expect nothing short of meeting philosophical celebrities in the department every week. The department is very sociable too, ranging from a variety of extra-curricular activities such as mountain-climbing and philosophical rock bands, and you will find yourself embedded in the department in no time.

Christopher Reid, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2006-2007:

Philosophy at Glasgow University is an intellectual feast of stimulating thought and discussion. As a former professional manager, I was amazed at the practical skills one gains within a single term of study. The fundamentals of problem-solving are acquired through continuous analysis, synthesis, and sustained argumentation of contemporary and historic philosophic problems. A valuable course for managers, leaders, and other professionals interested in enhancing critical thinking skills.

David Ross, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), Part-Time, 2005-2007:

I found the philosophy department at Glasgow Uni a friendly and welcoming place to return to study.  The staff are really impressive in their knowledge and verbal skills, making lectures and seminars lively and engaging affairs.  I also liked the friendly relationship between staff and students which engenders a nice atmosphere of community in the department. You are encouraged to make friends with your fellow students and pretty soon you find your conversations with them are equally as useful as several hours of private study. It is through this combination of debating, lecturing, conversation and solo study that you discover you're learning and acquiring a very useful set of skills.

Gerd Watzenig, MLitt in Philosophy (Conversion Programme), 2006-2007:

Studying at the Universtity of Glasgow in general, and the Department of Philosophy in particular, has been very exciting and challenging so far, and keeps getting better. The encouragement we get, not only to understand the thoughts and ideas of other philosophers, but also to have our own ideas and find our own solutions for problems requires a lot of 'out of the box' thinking which I greatly appreciate and enjoy. Critical thinking is central to the study of philosophy and we are being fully immersed in it. The lecturers are always available to help you and they give excellent comments on presentations and on written work. In tutorials we have had many fruitful discussions. I have not regretted choosing the Department of Philosophy at Glasgow for my studies and can honestly recommend it in every way.


photograph of interior: a group of four young white students huddled together, smiling at the camera. background is evening outside

Some of our graduate students at a recent conference held by the Centre for the Study of Perceptual Experience.