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Postgraduate Courses 2017/18

Reasoning - MA

Canterbury

Overview

Our MA in Reasoning offers an opportunity to study topics related to reasoning and inference as a specialised discipline within philosophy. 

Reasoning is the process of forming conclusions, inferences or judgements. This MA programme covers areas such as cognitive science and artificial intelligence (AI); scientific, mathematical, logical, causal and inductive reasoning; philosophy of mind, logic and language. Offered with the Department of Philosophy, the programme enables you to either focus exclusively on philosophical topics or study reasoning-related topics in psychology, computing, statistics, law, social policy, biosciences and history.

In the autumn and spring terms, you take a choice of four modules, including our graduate seminar, where staff offer sessions relating to their current research. You then undertake a 8,000-10,000 word dissertation over the summer with supervision from an expert within the department.

The programme is ideal for philosophy graduates who would like to widen their knowledge of reason-related topics (psychology, legal, machine, scientific reasoning), graduates with previous training in a reason-related topic who wishes to pursue an enquiry into its philosophical foundations, or those who wish to pursue these interests at postgraduate level for its own sake, as well as for those who wish to explore areas of specialisation in preparation for a PhD.

National ratings

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, philosophy was ranked 12th for research impact in the UK. We were also ranked 16th for research intensity and in the top 20 for research power.

An impressive 100% of our research-active staff submitted to the REF and 97% of our research was judged to be of international quality. The School’s environment was judged to be conducive to supporting the development of world-leading research.

Course structure

The MA in Reasoning comprises four 30-credit coursework modules (for a total of 120 credits) and a dissertation (60 credits). You take the coursework modules in conjunction with students on the MA in Philosophy, but focus on reasoning-related topics.

All MA students are expected to attend, and may choose to be assessed on the basis of essays on topics covered in, our Graduate Seminars. The seminars are divided into two streams: Theoretical Reasoning, and History of Philosophy and Practical Philosophy. Topics covered vary each year in line with current staff research. If you choose to be assessed in this way, you will be expected to write on reasoning-related topics.

In addition to attending the graduate seminars, MA students may, in consultation with the MA Programme Director, choose from a number of mixed undergraduate/graduate modules, typically assessed by a 4,000-word essay. The module offering varies from year to year, and you will be expected to focus on modules relating to reasoning. For a complete list of what is currently offered, please consult the Stage 2/3 module list.

You can also take a range of non-core modules which vary year on year. Please note that not all modules will run every year. The range of modules available for selection in any particular year depends on student demand, staff sabbatical arrangements and timetable constraints. If you would like further information, please contact us.

Upon successful completion of the four coursework essays, students proceed to the writing of the dissertation.

Modules

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This list is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  Most programmes will require you to study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also have the option to take modules from other programmes so that you may customise your programme and explore other subject areas that interest you.

PL805 - Special Topics I (30 credits)

This module may be ‘satisfied’ by a large number of mixed-level modules including, but not limited to: Greek Philosophy, Descartes-Kant, Hegel and Marx, Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mathematics, Advanced Topics in Mind and Language, Philosophy of Cognitive Science and AI, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Law, Aesthetics, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Normative Ethics, Metaethics, Philosophy of War, etc.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PL806 - Special Topics II (30 credits)

This module may be ‘satisfied’ by a large number of mixed-level modules including, but not limited to: Greek Philosophy, Descartes-Kant, Hegel and Marx, Wittgenstein, Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mathematics, Advanced Topics in Mind and Language, Philosophy of Cognitive Science and AI, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of Law, Aesthetics, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Normative Ethics, Metaethics, Philosophy of War, etc.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PL855 - Theoretical Philosophy (30 credits)

This module may be ‘satisfied’ by a large number of mixed-level modules including, but not limited to: Logic, Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Science, Philosophy of Mind, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Medicine, Descartes-Kant, Philosophy of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence, etc.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PL856 - Practical Philosophy (30 credits)

This module may be ‘satisfied’ by a large number of mixed-level lectures, seminars, and classes including, but not limited to: Aesthetics, Social Philosophy, Political Philosophy, Philosophy of Mind, Normative Ethics, Metaethics, Philosophy of War, etc.

Credits: 30 credits (15 ECTS credits).

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PL899 - Dissertation: Reasoning (60 credits)

This is an independent study module with no specified curriculum. The dissertation is designed to provide students with the opportunity to undertake a focused and extended research project of their own devising on any topic within the study of reasoning. The dissertation involves student-directed learning and research with the aim of producing a structured and persuasive argument, demonstrating (where appropriate) a command of the technical language of philosophy, as well as knowledge derived from cognate disciplines.

Credits: 60 credits (30 ECTS credits).

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Teaching and Assessment

Assessment is by coursework essays of 4,000 words and the dissertation of 8-10,000 words.

Programme aims

The programme aims to:

  • provide you with the knowledge and skills to prepare you for academic philosophical study at MPhil/PhD level
  • attract outstanding students, irrespective of race, background, gender, or physical disability from within the UK
  • further the University’s International Strategy by attracting students, as above, from abroad as well
  • enable you to deepen your knowledge of work in the key areas of theoretical and practical philosophy
  • enable you to begin to specialise in your areas of interest
  • provide you, consistent with point one above, with a transition from undergraduate study to independent research in philosophy
  • provide you with a training that will culminate, if followed through to PhD level, in the ability to submit articles to refereed journals in academic philosophy.

Learning outcomes

Knowledge and understanding

You gain knowledge and understanding in:

Several specific areas of the discipline based on a critical study of the relevant literature:

  • the ideas and arguments of some of the major philosophers in the history of the subject, encountered in their own writings
  • central theories and arguments in the fields of logic and the philosophies of probability, causality, science and mathematics
  • central theories and arguments related to the study of reasoning in the fields of psychology, statistics, computing and law
  • the relevance of philosophical ideas to other disciplines and areas of enquiry such as psychology, statistics, computing and law
  • the applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry in philosophy and other disciplines that study reasoning, as well as the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement the final project (dissertation) and to adjust it in the light of unforeseen problems.

Intellectual skills

You develop intellectual skills in:

  • listening attentively to complex presentations, using powers of analysis and imagination
  • reading carefully a variety of technical and non-technical material
  • using libraries effectively
  • reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources
  • marshalling a complex body of information
  • remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
  • constructing cogent arguments in the evaluation of this material
  • formulating independent ideas and defending them with cogent arguments.

Subject-specific skills

You gain subject-specific skills in:

  • the ability to conduct arguments about matters of the highest moment without recourse to insult or susceptibility to take offence
  • the willingness to evaluate opposing arguments, to formulate and consider the best arguments for different views and to identify the weakest elements of the most persuasive view
  • honesty in recognising the force of the conclusions warranted by a careful assessment of pertinent arguments
  • articulacy in identifying underlying issues in all kinds of debate
  • precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation of complex and controversial problems
  • sensitivity in the interpretation of texts drawn from a variety of ages and/or traditions
  • clarity and rigour in the critical assessment of arguments presented in such texts
  • the ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology
  • the ability to abstract, analyse and construct sound arguments and to identify logical fallacies
  • the ability to recognise methodological errors, rhetorical devices, unexamined conventional wisdom, unnoticed assumptions, vagueness and superficiality
  • the ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, inventing or discovering examples to support or challenge a position, and distinguishing relevant and irrelevant considerations
  • the ability to consider unfamiliar ideas and ways of thinking, and to examine critically pre-suppositions and methods within the discipline itself. 

Transferable skills

You gain the following transferable skills:

  • working with others: participating in seminar discussions, responding to the views of others and to criticisms of your own views without giving or taking offence, engaging in independent group work, including the running of the graduate seminar
  • using information technology: using online information sources, word processing essays, using email for receiving and responding to communications
  • communication: producing focused and cogent written presentations summarising information and assessing arguments, giving oral presentations, using visual aids where appropriate
  • problem-solving: identifying problems, assessing the strengths and weaknesses of different solutions, defending your own solutions with cogent arguments
  • improving your learning: identifying your strengths and weaknesses, assessing the quality of your own work, managing your time and meeting deadlines, learning to work independently.

Careers

A postgraduate degree in philosophy is a valuable and flexible qualification, which allows you to develop skills in logical thinking, critical evaluation, persuasion, writing and independent thought.

Graduates have gone on to positions in journalism, administration in the civil service, education, advertising and a range of managerial positions. Some go on to pursue research in the area, many continuing with PhDs at Kent or other higher education institutions.

Study support

About the Department of Philosophy

Philosophy at Kent prides itself on the flexibility of its programmes. Students are able to negotiate their own paths of study through a full range of mixed-level modules and specialist seminars that reflect the research interests of members of staff.

We offer a wide variety of topics and modules, in all areas of philosophy. Our department is a place of academic brilliance, friendly exchange, intellectual excitement and diversity. In our weekly departmental research seminar, colleagues and philosophers from other universities present their current work, and in our thriving student-run graduate seminar, students discuss their ideas with peers and members of staff. We host a Centre for Reasoning and are connected to the Aesthetics Research Centre, both offering their own weekly research seminars.

Philosophy is part of the School of European Culture and Languages (SECL), which embraces eight other disciplines: Classical & Archaeological Studies; Comparative Literature; English Language and Linguistics; French; German; Hispanic Studies; Italian; and Religious Studies. This means that students enrolled on a postgraduate programme in Philosophy can draw on the excellent resources of a diverse team of teachers with expertise in many key areas of European culture.

Postgraduate resources

SECL has extensive facilities to support research, and the Templeman Library has excellent holdings in all of our areas of research interest. The University of Kent’s location is the best in Britain for students who need to visit not only the British Library in London, but also the major libraries and research centres on the continent. The School also provides excellent IT facilities.
We hold a general postgraduate seminar in philosophy once a week in term-time. Active collaboration between departments within the School also ensures that we have a vigorous and lively research culture, with numerous research seminars and lectures, plus conferences organised around the research interests of our staff.

Training

All postgraduate students in SECL receive support and guidance within their departments and from the Graduate School. Within SECL, in addition to the research culture of your department, our research centres combine overlapping interests to foster interdisciplinary support and dialogue, while the Graduate School provides a Researcher Development Programme to equip you with a full range of skills that will improve your effectiveness as a researcher. Research students gain further academic experience by giving research talks, and attending national and international conferences.

Dynamic publishing culture

Staff publish regularly and widely in journals, conference proceedings and books. Among others, they have recently contributed to: The Journal of Philosophy; Philosophical Studies; Philosophers’ Imprint; Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society; and Journal of Applied Philosophy.

The Department of Philosophy’s Centre for Reasoning publishes a monthly gazette, The Reasoner, which features exciting new research on reasoning, inference and method. This gazette, available at www.thereasoner.org, acts as a forum for the global community of researchers in this area. A typical issue will contain an interview with a leading figure in the field, several short peer-reviewed features, news items, monthly columns and announcements of conferences, jobs and studentships.

Global Skills Award

All students registered for a taught Master's programme are eligible to apply for a place on our Global Skills Award Programme. The programme is designed to broaden your understanding of global issues and current affairs as well as to develop personal skills which will enhance your employability.  

Entry requirements

A first or upper-second class honours degree in a relevant subject (or equivalent).

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

English language entry requirements

For detailed information see our English language requirements web pages. 

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of pre-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes through Kent International Pathways.

Research areas

The main research interests of the staff are in moral and political philosophy, philosophy of language and logic, causality and probability, the philosophy of mathematics, the philosophy of Wittgenstein, epistemology (including social and formal epistemology), ancient philosophy, modern European philosophy and the philosophy of mind.

Staff research interests

Full details of staff research interests can be found on the School's website.

Dr Simon Kirchin: Reader in Philosophy

Moral philosophy; aesthetics; particularism; moral realism; medical ethics. 

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Dr Kristoffer Ahlstrom-Vij: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Epistemic normativity and social epistemology, including its intersection with political philosophy and empirical psychology.

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Dr David Corfield: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Philosophy of mathematics; philosophy of science; philosophy of psychology.

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Dr Graeme A Forbes: Lecturer in Philosophy

Metaphysics (especially philosophy of time), epistemology and pragmatism.

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Professor Peter Hacker: Professor of Philosophy

Philosophy of mind and language; Wittgenstein.

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Dr Edward Kanterian: Senior Lecturer in Philosophy

Kant; Frege; Wittgenstein; metaphysics; philosophy of language; history of philosophy since Descartes; the Enlightenment; political philosophy; ethics of memory.

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Dr Lubomira Radoilska: Lecturer in Philosophy

Metaethics, philosophy of mind, ethics and political philosophy.

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Professor Jon Williamson: Professor of Reasoning, Inference and Scientific Method

Philosophy of causality; philosophy of probability; logics and reasoning.

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Enquire or order a prospectus

Resources

Contacts

Admissions enquiries

T: +44 (0)1227 827272

E:information@kent.ac.uk

Subject enquiries

Dr Edward Kanterian
T: +44 (0)1227 827915
E: e.kanterian@kent.ac.uk

School website

Fees

The 2017/18 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

Reasoning - MA at Canterbury:
UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £6500 £14670
Part-time £3250 £7340

For students continuing on this programme fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* If you are uncertain about your fee status please contact information@kent.ac.uk

The University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that the information contained in its publicity materials is fair and accurate and to provide educational services as described. However, the courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Full details of our terms and conditions can be found at: www.kent.ac.uk/termsandconditions.

*Where fees are regulated (such as by the Department of Business Innovation and Skills or Research Council UK) they will be increased up to the allowable level.

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The University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NZ, T: +44 (0)1227 764000