Philosophy (120 EC): Philosophy of Natural Sciences, 2013-2014

Philosophy of Natural Sciences is one of the six specialisations of the the MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC), formerly called MA Philosophy of a Specific Discipline. This two-year master’s programme is intended for students in a particular academic discipline who are interested in the philosophical foundations and methodological aspects of that discipline. For a brief description of the specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences, and information about the objectives and general structure of the programme, the MA thesis and the requirements for graduation, click on ‘Meer info/More Info’ below.

Structure of the programme

The programme consists of five components:

  • 40 EC / MSc courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (one of the Natural Sciences)
  • 20 EC / 2 Specialist MA courses in Philosophy of Natural Sciences
  • 40 EC / 4 MA courses in Philosophy (to be chosen from the selected courses listed below)
  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

The structure of the two-year programme is presented below. The subjects of the philosophy seminars are varying yearly. Please note that the sequence of the various components of individual programmes may deviate from the structure proposed due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or to the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has already been completed. However, the two specialist courses are compulsory, and students must take one specialist course each year. The master’s thesis will be the final part of the programme. Students are requested to discuss their programme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

First Year

  • 30 EC / MSc courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy (one of the Natural Sciences)
  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Natural Sciences
  • 20 EC / 2 MA courses in Philosophy

Second Year

  • 10 EC / MSc courses in chosen discipline outside philosophy (one of the Natural Sciences)
  • 10 EC / Specialist MA course in Philosophy of Natural Sciences
  • 20 EC / 2 MA courses in Philosophy
  • 20 EC / MA thesis

First year / Second year

In 2013-2014 the following philosophy courses are on offer for the specialisation Philosophy of Natural Science.

Meer info

Description of the specialisation
Objectives and Achievement Levels
Programme
Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation
Additional programmes
Contact information

Description of the specialisation

The specialisation Philosophy of Natural Sciences covers ontological, epistemological, and methodological issues arising from the natural sciences.

Ontological issues pertain to the ultimate constitution of the world studied by natural scientists. What sorts of objects are acknowledged by the natural sciences? How are these objects defined and identified? In what senses can they be said to be real?

Epistemological issues pertain to the nature and limits of our knowledge of the natural world. How are concepts related to the world? What is the status of theoretical entities? What is the difference between observation and experiment?

Lastly, methodological issues pertain to the practice and dynamics of research in the natural sciences, including the interpretation of empirical data, theory formulation, and hypothesis test. A particular focus is the diversity of the natural sciences, which range from law formulating sciences such as physics to historical sciences such as earth science. A selection of these topics is selected for discussion each academic year.

Objectives and Achievement Levels

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) has the following objectives:

  1. with respect to knowledge, understanding and their applications
    a. to impart scholarly knowledge, insight, methods, and skills in the field of philosophy, building on the foundations laid in the BA-programme in Philosophy of a Specific Discipline, or the pre-master Philosophy);
    b. to impart a scholarly attitude, which is characterized by the student’s capacity to:
  • engage in individual and independent academic thought and action;
  • analyse complex problems;
  • write academic reports;
  • apply specialist skills in an intellectual and social context.
  1. with respect to a career
  • to prepare students for a profession in the field of the specific discipline for which philosophical knowledge, insight and skills have added value;
  • to prepare students for other professions in which philosophical knowledge, insight and skills have added value;
  • to prepare students to some extent for an academic career and for postgraduate education, in particular for a PhD project;
  • to prepare students for any non-academic career for which general academic skills such as abstraction skills, heuristic capability and creativity are required.

The following achievement levels apply with regard to the programme:

  1. Knowledge and understanding and their applications
    Students who have completed the programme
  • have acquired knowledge and understanding of the history, the foundations, the methodology and/or ethics of the specific discipline, that is founded upon and extends that associated with the level of the bachelor’s programme in the philosophy of a specific discipline;
  • have acquired knowledge and understanding of the social and cultural impact of philosophy in general and of the philosophy of the specific discipline in particular;
  • have acquired knowledge and understanding of the main parts of the philosophy of the specific discipline, of their problems, methods, and central concepts, that is founded upon and extends that associated with the bachelor’s level, and that provides a basis for originality in developing and applying original ideas and analyses;
  • know the discussions in the forefront of their field, and are able to take part in them;
  • are able to contribute to current discussions in philosophy and in new and complex contexts related to philosophy;
  • are able to contribute to the philosophical-social debate on the basis of their philosophical knowledge and understanding.
  1. Making judgements
    Students who have completed the programme
  • are able to handle philosophical complexity and to formulate judgments based on information from diverse sources, even if this information is limited or incomplete;
  • have a realistic view of the tenability and reliability of their own conclusions;
  • are able to integrate or confront different approaches to philosophical questions.
  1. Communication skills
    Students who have completed the programme
  • have been trained in giving clear expositions of philosophical problems, ideas, theories, interpretations and argumentations, to specialist and non-specialist audiences, in English, and, in case of students who are Dutch native speakers, in Dutch as well;
  • are able to write philosophical papers whose quality shows the potential to come close to that of articles in refereed journals in the field.
  1. Learning skills
    Students who have completed the programme have developed the learning skills to allow them to continue their study in a research context in a manner that may be largely self-directed, and to conceive and design a PhD project.

Programme

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) offers six specialisations, in which students are able to combine the study of philosophy with a non-philosophical discipline, varying from natural sciences to humanities and political science. The programme offers both full-time and part-time tuition.

Specialisations

The two-year MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC) offers six specialisations:

  • Philosophy of Humanities
  • Philosophy of Law
  • Philosophy of Medical Sciences
  • Philosophy of Natural Sciences
  • Philosophy of Political Science
  • Philosophy of Psychology

Full-time and part-time

The programme offers both full-time and part-time tuition. The part-time programme is offered as a daytime course. The full-time programme spans two years (including the non-philosophical component), the part-time programme spans three years. The only difference between the two programmes is in the length of time required for their completion; in content they are identical.

Structure

The MA Philosophy (120 EC) consists of five components:

  • 40 EC / MA/MSc courses in the chosen discipline outside philosophy
  • 20 EC / Specialist MA courses in philosophy of the chosen discipline
  • 40 EC / MA courses in philosophy
  • 20 EC / Master’s thesis

Students are expected to hold a bachelor’s degree in the discipline of their specialisation, which enables them to follow the non-philosophical part of their master’s programme at the faculty or department of the chosen discipline. Students who have already obtained a master’s degree in the chosen discipline are normally exempted from this part of the programme.

Full-time programme

First year

  • Students follow 500-level courses for a total of 30 EC in the chosen specific discipline outside philosophy.
  • Further, students follow two courses in philosophy, with a workload of 10 EC each. The choice may be made from a cluster of seminars selected from the courses on offer in the one-year MA programme in Philosophy.
  • Finally, students follow one specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC). Depending on the number of enrolments these specialist courses will be offered either as a full seminar or as a series of individual tutorial sessions.

Second year

  • Students take 500-level courses for a total of 10 EC in the chosen discipline outside philosophy.
  • Students follow two courses in philosophy, with a workload of 10 EC each. The choice may be made from a cluster of seminars selected from the courses on offer in the one-year MA programme in Philosophy.
  • Further. students follow a second specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).
  • Finally, students complete a master’s thesis of 20 EC.

Please note that the structure and sequence of components of individual MA programmes in Philosophy (120 EC) may deviate from the structure above due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has been completed.
Students are requested to discuss their progamme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

Part-time programme

In the part-time programme the various components will be spread over three years:

First year

  • MA/MSc courses for a total of 40 EC in chosen discipline outside philosophy.

Second year

  • MA courses in Philosophy for a total of 30 EC.
  • Specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).

Third year

  • MA course in Philosophy (10 EC).
  • Specialist course in philosophy of the chosen discipline (10 EC).
  • Master’s thesis of 20 EC.

Please note that the structure and sequence of components of individual MA programmes in Philosophy (120 EC) may deviate from the structure above due to the availability of courses in a particular semester, or the extent to which the non-philosophical part of the programme has been completed.
Students are requested to discuss their progamme with their tutor before the start of their first semester.

Internship

Students are allowed to include an internship of no more than 10 EC in their MA programme on condition that its job description has a clear relationship to philosophy. The internship will replace one of the four MA courses in philosophy.

Master’s thesis and requirements for graduation

In order to graduate, students must have successfully completed the 120 EC programme and have completed their final thesis as a component of that programme. The master’s thesis is an independent academic contribution to philosophy in the field of the chosen specialisation. The student is required to write a master’s thesis in the second year of the MA Philosophy (120 EC) – normally in the last semester.

Attainment levels

The master’s thesis should clearly show that the student meets the attainment levels which have been set for this programme in terms of knowledge and skills. More specifically, the master’s thesis and the working method for the thesis should demonstrate that the student:

  • has acquired knowledge of systematic philosophy and its history, and of recent developments in contemporary philosophy, that is founded upon and extends that associated with the bachelor’s level, and that provides a basis for originality in developing and applying original ideas and analyses;
  • knows the discussions in the forefront of their field, and is able to take part in them;
  • is able to contribute to current discussions on philosophy and in new and complex contexts related to philosophy;
  • is able to handle philosophical complexity and to formulate judgments based on information from diverse sources, even if this information is limited or incomplete;
  • has a realistic view of the tenability and reliability of his/her own conclusions;
  • is able to integrate or confront different approaches to philosophical questions;
  • in short, is able to write philosophical papers whose quality shows the potential to come close to that of articles in refereed journals in the field.

Formal requirements and assessment criteria

The thesis for the MA Philosophy (120 EC) has a workload of 20 ECs, and the length of the thesis is normally approximately 20,000 words. Depending on the subject, the student and the supervisor may agree on a different length. Other formal requirements that the thesis must satisfy are listed in the Protocol Graduation Phase

Agreements and supervision

The agreements relating to the planning and supervision of the writing of the MA thesis are set out in writing by the student and the supervisor in the Agreements relating to the MA thesis form. The agreements include details on the choice of subject of the thesis, on the frequency of sessions with the thesis supervisor and the manner of supervision, and on the phasing of the research leading up to the thesis.

Final examination

The master’s thesis shall be defended as part of the final examination. The grade of the master’s thesis is determined by the examiners after the questioning (defence of the thesis) in the MA examination. The final examination may be held at any time during the academic year. However, graduation within the current academic year is only guaranteed when the final draft of the thesis has been approved of by the supervisor on July 1st at the latest. The grade of the master’s thesis is determined by the examiners after the questioning (defence of the thesis) in the MA examination.

Additional programmes

In addition to their MA programme in Philosophy (120 EC), students are – on certain conditions – qualified to follow the teacher-training in Philosophy: a preparation for a career in high school education or in MBO (intermediate vocational) education in the Netherlands. On completion of this MA programme students obtain a second master’s degree and a high-school teaching qualification (eerstegraads lesbevoegdheid) in philosophy. Generally, students who completed the MA Philosophy (120 EC) need to follow some additional courses in philosophy on BA level before they are permissable to this teacher-training. For more information about admission requirements please contact the Coordinator of Studies. More information about the programme of the teacher-training is available on the website of ICLON

Students awarded a master’s degree are eligible to pursue a doctorate. Information about the PhD programme is available on the institute’s website.

Contact information

Specialisation co-ordinator

Dr. J.W. (James) McAllister
j.w.mcallister@phil.leidenuniv.nl

Coordinator of Studies

Contact details of the Coordinator of Studies of the Leiden Philosophy Department.

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