School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Online MSc in Epistemology, Ethics and Mind

Hands on Mac keyboard

Overview Provisional course guides Virtual Open Days
What do our students say? How will the programme be taught?  
Programme structure Who is this programme for?  
Duration of the programme? Technological requirements  
Video resources Applications  


Does the mind work like a computer? Are there universal moral principles? What is the nature of knowledge, and how do I acquire it? How can moral responsibility be reconciled with a deterministic universe? Is truth the goal of inquiry? Is my mind in my head or can it extend beyond my skull and into the world? Are there such things as moral facts?

This online MSc in Epistemology, Ethics and Mind is a unique programme which provides a thorough grounding in contemporary philosophy, with a particular emphasis on those core research areas where Edinburgh has particular strengths: epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science.

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This programme is unique in three ways:

The online nature of this programme allows you to undertake personal study, at times to suit you, to gain a world-class graduate qualification without the expense of relocating.

What do our students say?

Read testimonials from the academic year 2014/15 (PDF, 149kb)

Programme structure

Students on this programme are offered core courses in philosophical methodology and in the areas of epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science. There are advanced option courses available in epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science, and also an option course in philosophy of science. Students will thus gain a broad foundation in the research methods used within philosophy, and also a deep knowledge of the central philosophical areas of epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science. Students taking the full MSc degree will write a dissertation (8,000 to 10,000 words) on a research topic under the close supervision of faculty teaching on the programme.

You can earn a postgraduate certificate (three courses), a postgraduate diploma (six courses), or an MSc degree (six courses plus the dissertation) by completing courses on this programme.

What does online learning entail?
Are you interested in this programme but want to know more about online learning? We have set up a 'guest' version of our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), known as 'Learn', for you to explore the kinds of resources that you will have access to. There are no live events with faculty (unlike the actual courses), but if you have any questions about the materials you find there then please don't hesitate to get in touch with us.

To access the guest course you need to:

  • go to
  • choose MSc Epistemology, Ethics and Mind from the list of guest courses

What is the duration of the programme?

The Epistemology, Ethics and Mind degree programme is available on both a part-time and a full-time basis. For the full-time programme, the completion times are fixed, and are as follows:

In contrast, the part-time programme is structured to be as flexible as possible in duration, allowing you to choose the speed of your study to suit your other commitments. The following indicates the minimum and maximum amount of time to attain each qualification:

Is it possible to start in January?

Part-time students may commence their studies in either September or January. Please note that 'Introduction to Philosophical Methods' is a mandatory course if you are coming to philosophy from a closely related discipline, but do not have a strong academic background in philosophy. As this course currently only runs in semester one, those who are required to take it will only be eligible for a September start.

Full-time students must commence their studies in September.

Video resources

Introductory course videos

Provisional course guides

Note: these are subject to change and current students should use the information provided on the LEARN pages for their course.

How will the programme be taught?

This is an on-line only programme. It will be taught through a combination of short video lectures, web discussion boards, videoconferencing and online exercises. Students on the programme will have regular access to both faculty and dedicated teaching assistants, including one-to-one interactions. You will also interact with other students on the programme as part of a dedicated virtual learning environment.

Who is this programme for?

This programme would be an ideal foundation for further graduate work in Philosophy, providing a basis for research especially in the core areas of epistemology, ethics, and philosophy of mind and cognitive science. The programme would also be suitable for those who simply wish to gain an insight into cutting-edge topics in contemporary philosophy.

Admission is open to students with an upper second class or first class honours degree (or equivalent) in Philosophy. The programme will also be of interest to students from a range of disciplines closely related to Philosophy, such as Politics, Classics or Cognitive Science. Applications from strong students with these academic backgrounds will be given close consideration, and where admitted these students will be provided with additional training in philosophical methodology to enable them to prosper on this degree programme.

Technological requirements

In order to study on the programme you will require a reasonably up-to-date computer (of any type) and a reliable broadband internet connection which allows video streaming.

You will need a webcam and a set of headphones to take part in the online sessions.

More information on the technology used on the course.

If you have any questions, please contact our Learning Technologist Simon Fokt.

Virtual Open Days

The next virtual open day will be announced in January 2017.

The session will start with a short presentation by an academic member of the programme team explaining about the online programme. The rest of the hour will be devoted to an open Q&A session where we will be happy to discuss any questions you have about the programme.

The session will be delivered using Blackboard Collaborate, which will also be used for the online delivery of the programme. You will be able to participate in the session and ask questions via text chat or speak to us directly. Please note there are free apps for smartphones and tablets if you would prefer to participate on these devices rather than a PC or Mac.

Sign Up

Registration information for the live sessions will be announced in January 2017.

Joining the live session

Prior to the virtual open day session you will be emailed by the event organiser with the link to join the session you have registered for.

How to prepare

We strongly advise that you follow the preparation steps and checklist before the event to ensure that the device you will be using to access the session is compatible with Collaborate and meets the system requirements.

We also advise you to test your microphone and headphones before the session, and recommend the use of headphones over speakers as doing so will help to avoid distortions and feedback.

As you access the session, there will be several pop ups on your screen which will ask if you accept Java and collaborate. Say yes to these - they are perfectly safe, and this is the software we use for the session.

Central Online Information Sessions

For Information on centrally-arranged open day events that will also be taking place please see Postgraduate Study Online Learning Open Day.


Apply Online for MSc in Epistemology, Ethics and Mind

Further Information