MA Philosophy & Public Affairs

Graduate Taught (level 9 nfq, credits 90)

The MA in Philosophy and Public Affairs is especially designed for those people with an interest in public policy debates, e.g. in journalism, the civil service, public policy research institutes, etc.. At the same time, it will be useful for any job requiring a subtle understanding of debate and disagreement, or requiring close attention to texts. 
  • Unique combination of philosophy and social science
  • Close attention from dissertation supervisor
  • Vibrant academic and social community

Careers & Employability

It is very difficult to generalise about the career paths of our MA graduates. A small number continue into PhD programmes both at UCD and abroad. Others have gone into journalism, the civil service, secondary school teaching, NGOs, think tanks and the corporate world.

Curricular information is subject to change

Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. Yes

Part Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes
International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region. No

Our MA in Philosophy and Public Affairs programme is aimed at students who wish to deepen their knowledge of the core areas of philosophy and its application to public affairs at graduate level.  It is also intended to provide a good foundation of graduate work for students who wish to continue to more advanced graduate research.  It aims to provide an integration of social and political theory with the philosophical implications of the area.  The School of Philosophy encourages our students to be critical philosophical thinkers with the ability to reflect on current philosophical debates, history of philosophical thought and add their own contribution. We aim to provide a learning environment that fosters collegiality and a pluralistic approach to the main areas of philosophy and encourages students to engage critically with questions.  As the largest teaching and research centre in philosophy in Ireland, the programme benefits from many world-leading figures in philosophy that give invited seminars and conferences throughout the year.  Small group seminars and participation in conferences and workshops are a key element of the programme design.  As such, the programme uses key approaches to teaching such as philosophical debates, critical reflections, essays and paper presentations.

  • A deepened appreciation of the significance and value of ideas in and for internationalisation and globalisation
  • A detailed study of foundational questions of public policy. Delivered with the Schools of Social Policy and Social Justice, Sociology, Politics and International Relations
  • A grasp of how to pursue a career in academic life and the acquiring of transferable skills in research and organisation
  • A knowledge of how to write research proposals and attain funding from national and international organisations
  • An awareness of how to compose and structure philosophical writing for peer reviewed journals, book collections and monographs
  • An awareness of how to present and defend philosophical papers in seminars, workshops, conferences and other fora.
  • An enhanced awareness of how to work with texts, organise a thesis and set out extended philosophical arguments clearly and compellingly.
  • An enhanced awareness of the relevance of philosophy to other academic disciplines and to personal, professional and political life.
  • An extensive knowledge of library and online sources that facilitate research, including classical and foreign language sources.

View All Modules Here

Students must choose 3 from the following list of Philosophy Modules:

PHIL41280 Feminist and Gender Theory

PHIL41320 Topics in Continental Philosophy

PHIL41330 Philosophy of Time

PHIL41510 Ethics in Public Life

PHIL41810 Critique & Destruction

PHIL41840 Invention of the Modern Self


Choose 3 modules from the Social Sciences Option Group:

GEOG40970 Critical Geographies

POL40100 Politics of Development

POL40160 Comparative Public Policy

POL40370 International Political Economy

POL40540 Comparative European Politics

POL41650 Global Political Economy of Europe


Choose 1 module from the Theory Option Group:

EQUL40070 Human Rights Law and Equality

EQUL40310 Masculinitties of Equality

PHIL41510 Ethics in Public LIfe

POL40050 Theories of International Relations

POL40140 Global Justice

POL41030 Theory of Human Rights

SLL40230 Intro to Cultural Theory


While it is recommended that full-time students take three modules in each semester, it is up to the student. Students must then complete the dissertation by the end of August, and this will be worth 30 credits.

MA Philosophy & Public Affairs (W182) Full Time
EU          fee per year - € 10100
nonEU    fee per year - € 22600

MA Philosophy & Public Affairs (W183) Part Time
EU          fee per year - € 5460
nonEU    fee per year - € 11300

***Fees are subject to change
Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website. Please note that UCD offers a number of graduate scholarships for full-time, self-funding international students, holding an offer of a place on a UCD graduate degree programme. For further information please see International Scholarships.

Applicants need at least four philosophy courses as part of an undergraduate degree (to be confirmed by a transcript); an overall mark of B- (60%) in your undergraduate degree (to be confirmed by a transcript); two academic letters of reference and a sample of philosophical writing, such as an undergraduate essay.

  • Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 6.5 (no band less than 6.0 in each element), or equivalent.
  • These are the minimum entry requirements – additional criteria may be requested for some programmes 

Ruth Hurley
MA Philosophy and Public Affairs 2020/2021

The Masters of Arts in Philosophy and Public Affairs offers a freedom to explore interdisciplinary subjects of interest and identify how each subject plays a role in your understanding of the world. As a graduate with a wide set of interests this flexibility allowed me to focus on how one’s public engagement in society is inextricably linked to our private sphere of family and morality and how the individual enters civic life with both a private understanding of oneself and how society perceives them. Since graduating, I now work on community-based, innovative European Union funded projects that promote the community’s future in employment with the Ballymun Job Centre Co-op Ltd. The dynamic approach this course offers, by using both theoretical and practical insights, has no doubt influenced my ability to work in the field of Career Guidance and Community Development.

The following entry routes are available:

MA Philosophy & Public Affairs FT (W182)
1 Years
Full Time
MA Philosophy & Public Affairs PT (W183)
2 Years
Part Time

* Courses will remain open until such time as all places have been filled, therefore early application is advised