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Philosophy - MSc/MA

Course Description

The goal of the Master’s Programme in Philosophy is to provide you with systematic knowledge of philosophy as an independent field of science and of its specialisation fields, as well as to enhance your skills of philosophical analysis and argumentation. In addition, the Master’s programme provides you with the skills necessary to conduct independent philosophical analyses through both spoken and written media.

Philosophy graduates have been employed in a wide range of positions. Most of them work as researchers and teachers at institutions of higher education, general upper secondary schools and other educational institutions. Others serve in very different positions, often in jobs focusing less on a narrow field of specialisation and more on understanding broader issues, such as in communications as well as administration and planning duties.

The University of Helsinki will introduce annual tuition fees to foreign-language Master’s programmes starting on August 1, 2017 or later. The fee ranges from 13 000-18 000 euros. Citizens of non-EU/EEA countries, who do not have a permanent residence status in the area, are liable to these fees. You can check this FAQ at the Studyinfo website whether or not you are required to pay tuition fees: https://studyinfo.fi/wp2/en/higher-education/higher-education-institutions-will-introduce-tuition-fees-in-autumn-2017/am-i-required-to-pay-tuition-fees/

Programme Contents

Philosophy deals with the most fundamental and universal questions about the world and people’s place in it. Central topics include knowledge, reality, the mind, meaning, truth, science, society, action, value, and right and wrong. In Finland, philosophy has traditionally been divided into theoretical philosophy, and practical philosophy. The contents of the degree follow this division. The study track of philosophy with Swedish as the language of instruction represents a tradition in which this division does not exist. The degree programme in philosophy covers all central areas of philosophy. In addition to the general studies shared by all, you can specialise in a specific field of philosophy.

If you are particularly interested in social phenomena and wish to complete a Master of Social Sciences degree, choose practical philosophy or the equivalent content in philosophy in Swedish. If you are interested in other areas of philosophy, it is recommended that you complete a Master of Arts degree. During the course of studies in practical philosophy, you will explore basic issues of human activity and society, as well as common philosophical dilemmas in the field of social sciences.

Theoretical philosophy focuses on the traditional core questions of philosophy, which pertain to the structure of reality, the nature and possibility of knowledge, the relationship of language and the mind to reality, and the rules of competent deduction. It encompasses logic, metaphysics, epistemology, the history of philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, and philosophy of the mind. Metaphysics studies the fundamental nature of existence. Epistemology examines the general criteria for the justification or rationality of knowledge or belief. The history of philosophy follows the development of the main fields of theoretical and practical philosophy from antiquity to the present day. The particular focus of the philosophy of science is scientific knowledge, deduction and explanation. Logic examines the rules of formally competent deduction, formal languages and the philosophical applications of logical conceptual analysis. Research in the philosophy of language focuses on the relationship between language and reality as well as the nature of linguistic meaning and language use, while the philosophy of mind investigates the nature of mental states and events as well as their relationship with the brain and reality.

Practical philosophy studies the conceptual foundations of morality and society. The studies concentrate on conceptual issues related to norms, values and ideologies as well as on how various normative claims can be justified. Applied ethics examines concrete moral problems in the light of theories of normative ethics.

The philosophy of social science studies the principles of concept and theory formation as well as their epistemological and logical foundations. It also explores the nature and development of the social sciences, the special methods of mathematics and logic they apply, social ontology, and the relationship of the social sciences to society at large.

In addition to examining the fields described above, the study track of philosophy with Swedish as the language of instruction analyses the problem of the Enlightenment, contemporary philosophical criticism and the tradition of Socratic philosophy in which fundamental issues of knowledge, existence and morality are viewed as conceptually inseparable.

The history of philosophy follows the development of the main fields of philosophy, from antiquity to the present day.

The studies consist of lectures, seminars, book examinations, end-of-course examinations, essays, theses and brief presentations. The discipline also has several active research seminars, which allow you to follow the latest trends in international research. You should contact potential supervisors when you are selecting your thesis topic.

Selection of the Major

Students admitted to the Master’s Programme in Philosophy graduate with a Master of Arts or Master of Social Sciences degree. The study tracks in theoretical philosophy (and philosophy with Swedish as the language of instruction) as well as practical philosophy correspond to the above degrees. In other words, the following three study tracks are offered:
-Theoretical philosophy
-Practical philosophy
-Philosophy with Swedish as the language of instruction

When applying for the programme, you must inform us which degree you wish to pursue and which study track you wish to select. You can freely change your study track within the Master’s programme, but to graduate you must complete all the studies required for a single study track.

Programme Structure

The scope of the Master’s degree is 120 credits, comprising:
-Advanced studies (60–110 credits), including a Master’s thesis (30 credits) and other studies in the discipline.
-Professional skills studies (5–15 credits), which can consist of a traineeship, a professional skills project or other studies that develop your professional skills.
-Elective studies (max. 55 credits).

Career Prospects

The Master’s programme trains researchers and subject teachers of philosophy for general upper secondary education. Studies in philosophy prepare you for all professions that require critical and exact thinking and the ability to write clearly and convincingly. The fundamental nature of the discipline and its capacity to provide both an all-round foundation and diverse opportunities for specialisation form an excellent basis for employment in a wide range of positions. Previous philosophy graduates have found employment in education, administration, communication and the commercial sector. According to a recent survey, 93% of American employers felt that the ability to think critically, communicate clearly, and solve complex problems is more important than a candidate’s major subject. A suitable combination of expertise in philosophy and other areas enables you to work in a wide range of intellectually challenging jobs.


Studying philosophy at the University of Helsinki provides excellent opportunities for gaining international experience:
-The most common option is to become an exchange student at one of the Faculty’s or University’s partner institutions abroad. You can complete part of your degree studies at a university outside of Finland. The philosophy disciplines have several Erasmus and Nordplus exchange agreements with European universities.
-Another option is to complete a traineeship abroad.
-You can help international students as a peer tutor.
-You can be involved in the international activities of the subject organisations or the University’s Student Union.
-You can also improve your language skills and cultural knowledge by participating in the language courses of the University of Helsinki Language Centre.
-A bilingual degree (in Finnish and Swedish) provides you with access to the Nordic job market.

Visit the Philosophy - MSc/MA page on the University of Helsinki website for more details!

Entry Requirements

For the latest admission requirements, see the website: View Website

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