The Department of Philosophy has outstanding research strength in the fields of philosophy of biology, philosophy of psychology and philosophy of cognitive sciences.
We are ranked by the Philosophical Gourmet Report as the strongest department in the UK for the philosophy of biology. The department is also home to a European Research Council project on Darwinism and the Theory of Rational Choice, which explores connections between biological and cognitive science research.
This MA builds on these outstanding research strengths. It is intended for graduates of philosophy, psychology and biology who wish to study philosophy of science with an emphasis on the biological and cognitive sciences. The programme focuses on philosophical issues arising from these scientific disciplines. The history of science is studied in terms of the philosophical debate about the nature of scientific method and knowledge.
You will be an active member of the department's flourishing research culture. All students are encouraged to participate in both the weekly departmental research seminar and in the weekly Philosophy and History of Science research seminar, which often features well-known scholars in the field, from Bristol and beyond. The department has strong links with both the School of Experimental Psychology and the School of Biological Sciences, with whom joint workshops and reading groups are organised.
The MA consists of taught components, examined by essay, and a dissertation. You will take six taught units, normally three in each semester.
- Scientific Epistemology and Methodology
Core topics in scientific epistemology and metaphysics. This unit is examined on the basis of an essay of 5,000-6,000 words.
- Philosophical Writing and Research Seminar
A mandatory, two-hour, weekly seminar developing ideas and bibliographical and writing skills necessary for philosophical research. The unit is assessed by seminar contributions and presentations.
- Philosophy of Biology
Topics studied include: altruism and cooperation; biological individuality; and genes and reductionism.
Optional units can vary each year but may include:
- History of Science
- Philosophy and History of Mathematics
- Philosophy and History of Medicine
- Philosophy of Physics
- Individual, supervised research project
Satisfactory completion of semesters one and two will allow you to progress to writing a dissertation of up to 15,000 words on an approved topic of your choice. The dissertation is your chance to produce an extended piece of philosophical research that can act as preparation for a graduate research degree. You will have supervisory meetings with a member of staff who will also provide feedback on a draft of your work.