Philosophy (MPhil / PhD)

An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.

The MPhil/PhD in Philosophy is an opportunity to undertake a major piece of research under the supervision of someone with academic expertise in your field. We offer supervision in a wide range of philosophical subjects and foster our students' professional development. A number of our recent PhD graduates have permanent academic posts in leading universities.

Most students who plan to do a PhD begin with the MRes. The MRes offers research-based training in philosophy at post-Master's level and serves as a foundation for starting an individual PhD project. Students who pass the MRes can apply directly for the PhD, which ordinarily then takes one year less than for students without an MRes.

Students who are ready to start writing a PhD thesis of up to 75,000 words may apply directly for the MPhil/PhD. Students admitted to the MPhil/PhD are initially enrolled on the MPhil and upgraded to the PhD once they have made sufficient progress.

Find out more about studying Philosophy at Birkbeck.


  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • The Department of Philosophy enjoys an international reputation for research. The Department has a flourishing community of research students, and is committed to providing them with a first-rate philosophical training.
  • Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.
  • In the 2014 REF, Philosophy at Birkbeck was ranked 15th in the UK, with a research environment judged conducive to producing internationally excellent research.
  • In the Philosophical Gourmet Report 2014-2015, Philosophy at Birkbeck was ranked among the strongest in the UK, and was highly ranked in philosophy of action, philosophy of art, seventeenth-century philosophy and feminist philosophy.
  • The Department has been highly ranked for the standard of its research across a broad range, and especially our research and teaching in the area of feminist philosophy.
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    An appropriate Master's-level qualification.

    International entry requirements

    If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

    If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

    Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

  • Fees


    Part-time home/EU students: £2260 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £4260 pa
    Part-time international students: £6225 pa
    Full-time international students: £12325 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

    Fees and finance

    From 2018-19, PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of up to £25,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

    Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

    Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

    The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us. We offer a limited number of fully funded research opportunities.

  • Our Research Culture

    Our Research Culture

    The Department of Philosophy is internationally renowned for research excellence, encompassing a range of areas within the discipline, namely ancient philosophy, history of early modern philosophy, Kant, Nietzsche, history of analytic philosophy, logic, language, metaphysics, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of action, philosophy of psychology, ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy, social and feminist philosophy, epistemology, and philosophy of science.

      Library resources include the Birkbeck Library, the University of London Library and the British Library, and the Department has its own small Ruby Meager Library.

      Each year, the Department provides a number of teaching opportunities for research students. We strongly encourage students who are considering a career in philosophy, and who are sufficiently well prepared, to take advantage of the opportunity to teach undergraduates.

      Read more about our vibrant research culture.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      All applications for the MPhil/PhD must be made online and we recommend that you follow the pre-application procedure before you apply.

      MPhil/PhD applicants should submit a written research proposal of a maximum of 1000 words and a writing sample of no more than 5000 words, along with their application.

      These work samples should be uploaded to the application form along with the completed application form, the two references, and any relevant certificates.

      The College's application form asks you to supply one reference from a member of the Department of Philosophy. This condition need not apply. Please feel free to send two references from people who already know you and your work. If in doubt please consult the Admissions Tutor for Research Students, Susan James.

      Application deadlines and interviews

      You can apply at any time during the year. Entry for the programme is October of each year, however we advise that applications are submitted by 1 June as it can be harder to arrange interviews during the long summer vacation for those received later.

      If you wish to apply for funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

    • Finding a supervisor

      Finding a supervisor

      A critical factor when applying for postgraduate study in philosophy is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the Department.

      Find out more about the research interests of our academic staff:

      For further details of our academic staff and their research interests, please see our staff pages.