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Because of its very nature, mental health care raises as many conceptual questions as empirical ones. The philosophy of mental health is a rapidly developing field developed by philosophers, clinicians, eg psychiatrists and mental health nurses and mental health service users. Based on the Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry co-authored by the course leader, the MA Philosophy and Mental Health course aims to develop a better understanding of psychiatry, and mental health care more broadly, through an analysis of some of its fundamental concepts.


The teaching materials are provided by the newly published Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, co-authored by the course leader. This textbook is aimed at developing analytic and argumentative skills through exercises and guided readings. Tutorial supervision will be provided in guided discussion over the web using UCLan’s e-learning resources. Access to a computer connected to the web is thus a necessary requirement.

Most modules are assessed by a 5,000 word essay. The Introduction to Postgraduate Philosophically-Based Research module is assessed by three shorter assessments and the Dissertation is 10,000 words. Formative assessment is provided for a first short 2,000 word practice essay which can then be developed into the first longer essay.



  • The concepts of illness, disease and disorder in mental health;
  • The history of psychopathology;
  • Empathy;
  • Validity of psychiatry diagnosis;
  • The codification of diagnosis and tacit knowledge;
  • The conceptual underpinnings of evidence based medicine;
  • Values based practice;
  • Psychiatric ethics;
  • Brain imaging and the mind body problem;
  • Reasons and causes;
  • Meaning in cognitivist psychiatry;
  • Meaning and social constructionism in discursive psychology;
  • Free will;
  • Autism and the problem of other minds.


  • Core concepts in philosophy and mental health
  • A philosophical history of psychopathology
  • The philosophy of science and mental health


  • Ethics, values and mental health
  • The philosophy of mind and mental health
  • Introduction to Postgraduate Philosophically-Based Research


The programme in Philosophy and Mental Health is part of a newly developing interdisciplinary field looking at conceptual and evaluative aspects of mental health care. More so than any other area of healthcare, mental health raises conceptual as well as empirical difficulties.

The role of values in diagnosis, the validity or objectivity of taxonomy, the central relationship of mind and brain are all key issues underpinning healthcare calling for conceptual as well as empirical clarification. The programme critically examines the assumptions that drive the agenda in mental health care. It aims to foster analytic and argumentative skills in its students in order for them to have a better understanding of practice and, in some cases, to carry out further and original research in this newly developing field. Students will be drawn from all areas of mental health care including service users as well as from a philosophy or psychology background. Based on the Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry, co-authored by the course leader, teaching will be by distance learning in a structure designed to fit with the busy working lives of those working in the field.

Visit the Philosophy and Mental Health - MA/PGDip/PGCert page on the University of Central Lancashire website for more details!




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