MA curriculum in philosophy
The setup of the MA programme in Tartu is designed to allow students with different levels of expertise in philosophy to follow tailor-made, fulfilling and productive study plans. The curriculum structure enables flexible research-based programmes for those who have studied philosophy before and would like to focus on a specific area and get more involved in research. The curriculum is equally suitable for those who are just beginning to study philosophy and would like to attend more general philosophy classes.
The curriculum requires completing 120 ECTS across two academic years (four semesters).
General Subjects (15 ECTS) are compulsory for all students. The MA seminar (12 ECTS) runs through each of the four semesters, and is devoted first to sessions focussing on general and specifically philosophical skills (looking for research material, writing papers, writing applications etc.), then to presenting the student’s own work in progress, with feedback given by peers. The Philosophical Methodology course (3 ECTS) focuses on questions such as how to do philosophy, what philosophy is and should be, etc. through the lenses of a specific text or collection of texts.
The Specialisation Module (69 ECTS) includes three Specialisation Courses (54 ECTS in total), plus the Research Seminar (9 ECTS) and Practice (6 ECTS). Specialisation Courses are learning packages that can be filled in the student’s own preferred way, with the guidance and agreement of their supervisor. Typical Specialisation Courses will include a balanced mix of
- (a) ordinary courses relevant to the student’s research interests, chosen from the wide offer in our Department as well as from other Departments, and
- (b) individual work with one’s supervisor or other members of staff (focussed readings, tutorials, writing practice etc.), for an amount of ECTS as deemed feasible by the two parties.
Work done for Specialisation Courses should be for the most part contained within the first three semesters (hence the division in three courses of 18 ECTS each), since the fourth semester will be devoted almost entirely to writing your thesis. As shown in the graph, your specialization interests may fall within one of four areas (history of philosophy, practical philosophy, philosophy of science, theoretical philosophy). However, specializing in one area (for instance, practical philosophy) does not at all mean that you cannot take courses or individual work from other areas (such as theoretical philosophy). You can read more on what kind of courses we teach at the Master's level.
The Research Seminar is a compulsory seminar, whose topic depends on current research projects of our members of staff. Typically the student is able to choose from two research seminars offered each semester.
The Practice module is a unique aspect of the MA programme in Tartu which provides the student with an excellent opportunity to apply their skills in an actual working environment. Possible places for internships include: third sector organisations, policy think tanks, newspapers and journals (editing and translating), schools and other educational institutions (assistance with teaching and grading). Students are encouraged to approach potential employers and to actively look for opportunities to practice in institutions that would help them in their future career choices.
Optional Subjects (6 ECTS) can be chosen in complete freedom—no connection to specialisation interests is required here.
The MA thesis (30 ECTS) is an extended piece of philosophical writing where you need to defend a thesis, support it with arguments, and place it within a given philosophical debate. Writing the thesis should occupy the fourth semester. Preparation for the thesis begins already in the third semester, when you are required to present a Prospectus—an outline of your intended topic and relevant sources. Your supervisor will be your thesis advisor. See also titles of recent MA theses and their supervisors. And potential MA thesis topics.
To help you understand the structure of our curriculum, as well as the content of Specialisation courses, here are three curriculum samples. Sample 1 belongs to a student who had previously studied philosophy at Master’s level in their own country. Once in Tartu they specialized much further (in particular in ethics), as well as promoted their side interest in media. This student did individual work for 9 ECTS.
Sample 2 comes from a student who had finished their BA in philosophy in Tartu. They initially decided to connect philosophy with the neurosciences, and then preferred to turn to epistemology and the philosophy of language, with individual work totalling 12 ECTS.
Sample 3 comes from a student who had not previously studied philosophy. You can see how in the first and second semester they mostly chose introductory courses, and later specialized in the philosophy of language, with a substantial amount of individual work (18 ECTS). This student also spent the third semester abroad with the Erasmus programme.