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Philosophy (MPhil / PhD)

Applications for this course will open in October

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 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.


  • 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 most recent 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 most recent REF, Philosophy at Birkbeck was ranked 15th in the UK, with a research environment judged conducive to producing internationally excellent research. 100% of our research was deemed to be of international significance.
  • In the Philosophical Gourmet Report 2017-2018, Philosophy at Birkbeck was ranked highly in a number of philosophical subject areas.
  • 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.

    english language 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 and foundation programmes 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 UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

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

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant requirements by country.

  • Fees


    To be confirmed

    Fees and finance

    PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 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.

    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 contemporary analytic philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, logic, philosophy of mathematics, philosophy of science, philosophy of language, ethics, aesthetics and political philosophy); the history of philosophical questions in many of these areas (we have specialists in ancient philosophy, and seventeenth-, eighteenth- and nineteenth-century philosophy, including Nietzsche); and feminist philosophy.

      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.

      The department provides a series of training sessions tailored to the needs of research students in philosophy, which are usually held once a term during Reading Week. The department also regularly hosts a series of talks called ‘Approaches to Philosophy’, where philosophers from different universities present their way of approaching the subject.

      Research students are also encouraged to attend the generic training courses organised by the Birkbeck Graduate Research School.

      Read more about our vibrant research culture.

    • How to apply

      How to apply

      Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

      1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.

      2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information.

      3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.

      4. Draft a research proposal of up to 1000 words. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal

      5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. You will also need to submit a writing sample of up to 5000 words and two references (these do not need to be from a philosophy academic - they can be from somebody who knows you and knows your work). All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress. 

      Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe

      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.

      To find out more about the research interests of our academic staff, please see our staff pages, or on the Experts' Database.