Master of Philosophy (MPhil) (Leuven)

Master of Arts

The Institute of Philosophy offers a comprehensive range of BA, MA, MPhil and PhD degrees. Viewed collectively, our undergraduate and postgraduate degrees aim to familiarise students with the historical traditions of philosophy as well as with contemporary movements in English-speaking and continental philosophy so that they are able to tackle the fundamental areas of philosophical research. All its programmes are taught in English. Courses are taught by means of lectures and seminars.

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) programme is situated in the curriculum of the Institute of Philosophy after the BA and MA. The MPhil programme is primarily research-oriented and functions as a first step towards the doctoral programme. The MPhil allows each student to concentrate on a particular field of study, supplemented by courses, seminars, and the oral defence of a research-based master's thesis. This is an advanced master's programme and can be followed on a full-time or part-time basis.
Prospective students should already have acquired a broad and somewhat specialised knowledge of philosophy and possess the skills needed to conduct independent research. Students should be able to demonstrate a high level of academic achievement in previous studies, for instance, by having graduated at the top of their class at the MA level. Students should have proven research abilities. Their motivation and interest should be clearly stated in the application file, the evaluation of which will play an important role in the admission decision.

Students should have an MA in Philosophy degree from KU Leuven or another recognised university or an academic background in philosophy equivalent to the MA in Philosophy degree (comprising a total of 5 years of full-time university-level study). The Admissions Board of the Institute of Philosophy makes all decisions regarding equivalencies.

Students must also have a good knowledge of English (either native or TOEFL standards: minimum 90-100 on internet-based test, or an IELTS score of 6.5-7.5 pt. Other English language proficiency certificates or proofs of fluency are also accepted upon prior permission of the Admissions Board).

All candidates for admission to the MPhil Programme in English have to meet both our general and specific admission requirements.
The programme is oriented towards specialised research in philosophy. It aims to deepen a student's advanced knowledge of a topic in philosophy closely connected with the on-going research of one of the Institute's research centres. The accent is placed firmly on the development of independent research. Each student's study programme is tailored to this goal. Hence there is a strong concentration on a number of fundamental research seminars during which specialised skills are developed. The programme is envisioned as a bridge or transitional programme to the doctoral programme and functions as a qualification for formal acceptance to doctoral studies at the Institute. The MPhil thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to conduct original research.

At the end of the MPhil programme, the student should:

1. Specialised philosophical knowledge in context
a) Have a profound knowledge of the recent, "state of the art" research work in her/his chosen field of research
b) Be able to engage at the highest level with the key texts in her/his chosen subdomain
c) Have genuine insight into the ongoing research of other philosophical domains
d) Be able to situate her/his own research within a much larger philosophical framework and be able to explain its significance within this framework

2. Research skills
a) Be able to formulate independently a well-defined and original research question
b) Be able to independently develop a well-defined research approach appropriate to the topic of study
c) Be able to independently conduct the research necessary for adequately addressing the research question through close reading of primary sources (preferably in the original language) and critical use of a wide range of secondary sources

3. Philosophical skills
a) On the basis of independent research in the student's philosophical subdomain be able to develop a personal philosophical standpoint and defend it in debate

4. Writing skills
a) Be able to clearly present the results of the student's research in written form in both shorter papers and a more extensive thesis, all displaying signs of professional philosophical standards

5. Presentation skills
a) Be able to clearly present and defend orally the results of the student's research

6. Intellectual maturity
a) Possess sufficient intellectual maturity to proceed to doctoral studies
b) Be able to take initiative and use creativity in the pursue of high level research
c) Be able to efficiently organise her/his research work

7. Professional skills
a) Be able to present a paper at a professional philosophical meeting, be able to write an article that meets professional standards, be able to compose a grant application in a professional manner, be able to write an application to PhD programmes, be familiar with the publication process
b) Be able to communicate effectively both in research and more general professional contexts
Prospective students are encouraged to contact the Institute of Philosophy to arrange a campus visit. (See contact information)

KU Leuven organises a Graduate Fair each spring. In addition, faculties also organise information sessions for many of their bridging and graduate programmes. Click here for the schedule of upcoming information sessions (website mainly in Dutch).
Philosophy has been taught at KU Leuven since its founding in 1425. Throughout the centuries, the university has remained an important and influential centre of philosophical thought, with a strong commitment to the international dimension of education. In more recent times, the Institute of Philosophy, established in 1889, has continued this august tradition and is now an internationally recognised centre of philosophical research.

The Institute of Philosophy has its roots in the eminent tradition of European continental philosophy. In recent years, however, the Institute has embraced other philosophical traditions ranging from Anglo-American thought to non-Western philosophy. The Institute of Philosophy is committed to philosophical pluralism and aspires to the highest possible standards in education and research. Its teaching staff offers a wide variety of challenging courses and research seminars at undergraduate and graduate levels.

With more than 700 students from some 60 different nations, the Institute is a vibrant and cosmopolitan intellectual community that celebrates the subject of philosophy in its many forms. Furthermore, with 5 research centres, some 30 full-time staff and nearly 130 adjunct faculty members, post-docs and doctoral students, the Institute of Philosophy is among the largest research groups in philosophy on the continent.

The Institute's library is one of the finest philosophical libraries in the world. It contains more than 90,000 volumes and maintains subscriptions to more than 300 journals. It is user-friendly, with open stacks, a liberal lending policy and an online catalogue.
Institute of Philosophy
Kardinaal Mercierplein 2
3000 LEUVEN, Belgium
tel. + 32 16 32 63 02
fax + 32 16 32 63 52

This programme is organised in Leuven.

Study Advice Service
Naamsestraat 80 box 5415
3000 LEUVEN, Belgium
To contact us please complete the contact form on our website.

Career paths

Students of philosophy deepen their skills of analysis and synthesis and are thus uniquely prepared to take on a variety of different careers. Most of our graduates aspire to an academic career and go on to obtain PhDs in Philosophy, eventually working as professors or researchers.

Other graduates in philosophy go on to careers in many different sectors, including: business, civil service, politics, education, publishing, media, the socio-cultural sector, journalism, academia and elsewhere. Many employers seek candidates who are not only well grounded in a specific field, but also able to handle the diverse challenges arising in a fast-paced workplace. Graduates in philosophy are well positioned to think clearly and respond effectively in the workplace.

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