The practice course will provide the student with practical skills that are relevant for future postgraduate research in philosophy but also transferable to research management, the life-long-learning sector, and any other area that requires project management skills or transferrable skills. The exact nature of the practice will be individually decided by student and supervisor, depending on the background and interests of the student. The credit points should be largely gained for practical work done in either higher education (plan and conduct a seminar, graduate conference or training workshop), research management (administrate a project, plan a budget, be involved in a project application), or editorial work.
Employers expect future employees to have the ability to apply in real life the theoretical knowledge and skills learned in the university – be it the organizing of events, preparation of materials, analysis, active participation in processes etc. No less important in terms of further study and work prospects are the experiences and contacts that the student acquires during practice.
Practice is a possibility to put yourself to a test through different activities - can I adapt and learn in another environment? How good am I at teamwork? Does that suit me? How to apply my analytic skills on texts and materials of wholly different nature from study materials? If and how does the critical and systematic thinking trained in philosophy seminars help me to solve particular interdisciplinary and “non-ideal” problems? Practice should help the student to complement his/her existing skills, support confidence and self-reliance, offer opportunities for self-reflection and development. It is important to learn from one’s experience and reflect upon that learning. Think of this as an opportunity and not a boring duty.
Thus the aim of practice is to enable students to apply their acquired disciplinary knowledge and skills in work environment or in completing a certain specific task. No less important is the practice of transferrable skills as these are crucial in any field or discipline. Examples of transferrable skills are as follows:
- Application of theoretical knowledge in practice
- Ability to work in teams
- Taking and sharing of responsibilities
- Information management skills
- Communication and management in a foreign language
- Time management skills
The practice course within the MA program is 6 credit points. But it is not necessary to fill it all with one type of activity or event. It may well be that a student receives 2 credit points for helping to organize a conference, 2 credit points of volunteering in a non-academic setting (for example, at an animal shelter for someone who does their thesis work on animal rights or environmental issues) and the last 2 credit points for writing an academic review of a book.
1 credit point (ECTS) corresponds to approximately 26 hours of work, thus the entire 6 credit point practice course means about 156 hours of work (about 22 days full time). Practice course is evaluated through non-differentiated grading (pass/fail).
There are various ways to do one’s practice in our department. Firstly, we very much encourage students to look for practice opportunities independently and in cooperation with their supervisor. Faculty of Arts and Humanities has a list of organisations that are open to interns (in Estonian). It is also possible to organize a traineeship abroad.
Below are some of the examples of practice activities undertaken by our MA students:
- Writing, editing and translating of texts for a booklet (about 60 pages) that introduced philosophy as a discipline to the high school students in Estonia. The booklet included short essays about some central problems in philosophy as well as exercises and thought-experiments for in-class use in high schools.
- Organising of a philosophy graduate conference in spring 2016.
- Assistance with the organization of an International Philosophy Olympiad (took place in Tartu in spring 2015)
- Organising of a Philosophical Film Club that regularly shows films and arranging for guests and discussions
- Participating in the radio show "Polylogue" which tackles different philosophical questions and is run both in English and Estonian by our students
- Being a communications „ambassador“ for the philosophy program and helping to answer questions and queries that potential MA applicants have about the program and about studying in Tartu, Estonia
- Providing teaching and grading assistance
- Working for think-tanks and NGOs
How to find a practice base?
The student is responsible for finding a place or the activity to satisfy their practice requirement. The practice coordinator can only help by consulting the student and providing ideas. Occasionally the Department will have very specific practice offers, the relevant student group (e.g., some things may be only suitable for undergraduate students) will be notified.
What kind of activities can count towards practice?
There is no fixed list of approved activities, but the general idea is that the activities should not be too similar to regular course work, that is reading and discussing texts, taking lectures, writing papers etc. In addition, activities that allow the student to apply their philosophical knowledge and skills or activities that contribute to the student's choice of future career are preferred. In general, doing original research (with or without student's supervisor) will not count towards practice requirements (the MA students have specialization courses for that, BA students would need prior authorization).
How to do practice?
The student should contact the practice coordinator before engaging in any activity they want to count towards their practice requirement. This is important because this is the only way to make sure that all the relevant parties are properly informed and everything proceeds as it should. Of course, activities done independently can count towards practice requirement if usual conditions are met. The practice does not need to be completed all at once, it can be split up into smaller parts, but not smaller than 1 ECTS. The practice does not need to be completed during term time.
What kind of papers are involved?
At the end of practice the student must submit their written report and timesheet to the practice coordinator who will, after reviewing the papers, authorize the credit points. If the student does their practice outside the department then also the contact of their practice supervisor must be provided so that feedback could be gathered about their performance. If the student does their practice outside the university then a three-way contract (student-university-practice base) may need to be signed as well as contact for feedback gathering must be provided. The instructions on how to fill in the papers and the relevant templates will be provided by the practice coordinator.
How are the credit points calculated?
According to university regulations, 1 credit point is worth 26 hours of work. Therefore, to get 1 credit point of practice the student must do 26 hours of work. In general, some estimate of hours and therefore credit points will be agreed with the student and practice coordinator before the student begins their practice. This is only meant as an estimate to help guide and plan the practice activities. The actual amount of credit points awarded will depend on the amount of work done by the student, unless otherwise specified beforehand. There might be some occasional practice assignments provided by the Department with fixed amount of credit points regardless of actual working hours.