Course Overview

The relation between values and knowledge is a central concern for any society. At present, it is widely assumed that the pursuit of knowledge is valuable only to the degree that it has measurable practical benefits as an outcome. Our MA programme offers a context for detailed consideration of this assumption. We identify and question the issues involved in it at deeper levels of analysis than are available through ordinary discussion.

This high level of critical scrutiny is made possible through the programme’s broad philosophical perspective - engaging with questions arising in other disciplines also. More specifically, our programme provides an in-depth study of different forms of values in terms of both their cognitive basis and their relation to other areas of knowledge and activity. We also consider the way in which knowledge has been defined and theorized since the Enlightenment. The programme combines historical perspectives and contemporary critical debates so as to provide a fund of analytic and argumentative skills that are advantageous for further work in philosophy or for competing in the job market.

 Programme aims

  • To initiate students into historical and contemporary debates concerning the cognitive basis of values (especially moral and aesthetic ones), and the status of different forms of knowledge .
  • To give this initiation a broad scope—embracing personality, gender, political concepts, knowledge in a historical context, and the emotions as such, as well as moral and aesthetic values.
  • To explore how the cognitive significance of values may be implicated in the conditions of our knowledge of self and world, and in the grounds on which beliefs are held, and justified.
  • To ensure that students are initiated into different methods of philosophical investigation that cross the usual divide between ‘Analytic’ and ‘Continental’ philosophy.
  • To open possible overlaps with work done in other disciplines.

Applications and Selections

Who Teaches this Course

Requirements and Assessment

Key Facts

Entry Requirements

Applicants should have or expect to obtain a grade of an overall Second Class Honours, Grade 2 (H2:2) or higher with a Second Class Honours, Grade 1 (H2:1) in Philosophy in their first degree. Applications are welcome from students whose primary degree was in Philosophy or a cognate subject.

Additional Requirements


1 year, full-time
2 years, part-time

Next start date

September 2017

A Level Grades ()

Average intake


Closing Date

Please view offer rounds website

Next start date

September 2017

NFQ level

Mode of study


ECTS weighting




PAC code

GYA06 full-time
GYA66 part-time

Course Outline


The full-time programme is completed over one academic year. Students must take modules and complete a minor dissertation to the value of 90 ECTS in total.

Modules  ECTS
Research Methods (Core)  10
Philosophy Seminar:
Participation & Management (Core)
Political Values in the Modern World 10
Moral Reasoning 10 
Values & Knowledge 10 
Cultural Philosophy of Globalization  10 
The Philosophy of Emotion  10 
Environmental Aesthetics  10 
Minor Dissertation 30


  • Students must take modules and complete a minor dissertation to the value of 90 ECTS in total over two years.
  • Students must attain 30 ECTS in year 1 to progress to year 2 and must attain 60 ECTS in year 2.
Course Structure for part-time sStudents ECTS         
YEAR 1  
Research Methods (Core) 10
2 optional modules from the list below (options subject to change) 20
Political Values in the Modern World  
Moral Reasoning  
Values & Knowledge  
The Philosophy of Emotion  
Cultural Philosophy of Globalization  
Environmental Aesthetics  
YEAR 2  
Philosophy Seminar: Participation & Management (Core) 10
2 optional modules from year 1 list above.  20
Minor Dissertation (Core) 30


Research Methods (Core)
Dr. Felix O' Murchadha and Dr. Heike Felzmann

This course will support students in developing advanced research skills in philosophy. Students will develop familiarity and competence with the advanced use of library resources and electronic databases relevant to philosophy research and will be introduced to the use of reference management programmes. They will discuss basic elements of advanced philosophical writing and will be supported throughout the different stages of developing their MA thesis.

Philosophy Seminar: Participation & Management (Core)
Professor Paul Crowther and Dr. Tsarina Doyle

This module allows students to do a substantial presentation of their research at discipline level, and to receive training and experience in both chairing seminars and contributing to them. Assessment is based on the presented paper in Semester 2.

Dissertation (Core)
Each student will write a 15,000 word dissertation, based on research into a topic of their choice, and supervised by a member of staff in Philosophy.

Values & Knowledge (Optional)
Professor Paul Crowther

The module addresses - historically and critically - the relation between values and knowledge from Hume to the present. It's main linking theme is the concept of intrinsic value. Does it make sense to say, for example, that such things as morality and beauty are worth pursuing for their own sake, and does this apply to the pursuit of knowledge as such? The module also considers whether there could be a necessary connection between values and the possibility of self-consciousness and knowledge of an objective world.

The Philosophy of Emotion (Optional)
Dr. Felix O' Murchadha

This course will explore emotion and feeling from a phenomenological perspective. Taking account of classical phenomenological texts and contemporary debates, this course will consist in a discussion of the nature of emotion, an analysis of specific emotions and finally an exploration of some broader themes with respect to emotion, specifically with respect to the constitution of the self and the nature personhood.

Cultural Philosophy of Globalization (Optional)
Dr. Gerald Cipriani

This module aims to provide students with an insightful understanding and critical grasp of ethical and aesthetic issues related to the phenomenon of globalization. Those include the impact globalization has had on identity formation, whether that of persons, cultures, or communities. The module will also consider the degree to which technology affects ethical and aesthetic values within the context of globalization.

Political Values in the Modern World (Optional)
Dr. Richard Hull

This course will look at the ways in which political values interact with the modern world. It will begin with an introduction to central political and ethical theories along with exploration of key distinctions that tend to be relied upon, whether impllicitly or explicitly. It will then focus on current issues in political theory, concentrating on themes such as justice, equality, freedom, toleration, and genetics. It will look at how these themes are contested in modern diverse democracies.

Moral Reasoning (Optional)
Dr. Heike Felzmann

Moral reasoning is conceptualised in fundamentally different ways, from being rational and principle-driven, to being based on intuition or affective processes, to being grounded in shared social practices. In this course students will explore different approaches to moral reasoning in relation to both historical and contemporary authors, and address the relation between philosophical analysis and psychological and neuroscientific findings.

Environmental Aesthetics (Optional)
Dr. Gerald Cipriani

This module aims to provide students with an insightful understanding and critical grasp of environmental issues in relation to aesthetic values. The module will draw from a variety of philosophical and cultural traditions East-West to explore aesthetic conceptions of nature or the environment at large. Those include beauty, the sublime, the picturesque, the wilderness, the environment and the idea of milieu. 


Why Choose This Course?

Career Opportunities

Graduates with this qualification will be eligible for doctoral research and careers in the public and social services, NGOs and journalism.

Who’s Suited to This Course

Learning Outcomes


Work Placement

Study Abroad

Related Student Organisations

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€6,200 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Tuition

€5,976 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Student levy

€224 p.a. 2018/19

Fees: Non EU

€14,250 p.a. 2018/19

Postgraduate students in receipt of a SUSI grant—please note an F4 grant is where SUSI will pay €2,000 towards your tuition.  You will be liable for the remainder of the total fee.  An F5 grant is where SUSI will pay TUITION up to a maximum of €6,270.  SUSI will not cover the student levy of €224.

Postgraduate fee breakdown = tuition (EU or NON EU) + student levy as outlined above.


Find out More

Dr Tsarina Doyle
T: +353 91 495 473

What Our Students Say


Sean Comer |    

I chose to study philosophy at NUI, Galway after considerable time and research. I wanted a university that focused as much on my educational and career path as I do. There is no question, the quality of the university and the appeal of the city were also factors. Galway, recently voted the best overall micro city in Europe by the Financial Times, is a student friendly, vibrant and lively city. I feel that the MA is unique in the way it encourages the student to examine and question contemporary philosophical concepts of values and knowledge. The range of optional modules allowed me to focus on subjects I had a direct interest in, while the core modules encourage you to develop skills in research and philosophical writing. The Philosophy Seminar: Participation and Management module in particular, gives an opportunity to research, write and present a paper to the philosophy department. This peer review process is invaluable in developing presentation expertise, which is vital for further academic study and useful in the world of work. I am delighted I chose to study Philosophy at NUI, Galway.