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MPhil Stud

MPhil Stud Structure


The MPhil Stud programme is two years in length and consists of the following elements:

  • 5 compulsory elements (15 credits except Thesis Preparation=30 credits)
  • 10 optional taught modules (15 credits each)
  • MPhil Stud thesis of around 30,000 words (120 credits)

Total credit value = 360

The five compulsory elements are marked as pass/fail.

The optional taught modules have a pass mark of 60.

Year 1

Term 1  3 optional modules  PHILG008 Practical Criticism 1  PHILG009* 
Term 2 3 optional modules PHILG015 Practical Criticism 2  PHILG009*
Term 3  1 or 2 optional module Assigned Thesis Supervision PHILG009*

* PHILG009 - Recent Philosophical Writings attendance is compulsory in all three terms.

Year 2

Term 1  Remaining options  PHILG017 Thesis Preparation &
Independent thesis work 
Term 2 no options  PHILG017 Thesis Preparation & Assigned Thesis Supervision PHILG056*
Term 3 no options Assigned Thesis Supervision PHILG056*

* PHILG056 - Recent Philosophical Writings attendance is compulsory in all three terms. 

Module selection - Breadth Requirements

Throughout the two year programme students must take at least two modules from each of these areas:

  • (A) Theoretical (metaphysics, language, epistemology etc.)
  • (B) Practical (ethics, politics, aesthetics etc.)
  • (C) Historical (ancient, early modern, early analytic etc.)

Also MPhil Stud students should ensure at least six of their optional modules are dedicated graduate level modules (i.e. not coded with PHIL3___ courses).



MPhil Stud Orientation

Click here for he moodle site with the Philosophy Guide for Research Students handbook (UCL log-in required).

MPhil Stud Scheme of Award

The Academic Regulations for Students (here) is the source of reference for all matters relating to overarching UCL regulations concerning the rules of examinations and schemes of award. In addition to UCL’s minimum requirements as set out in the Blue Book, the Programme Board of Examiners has prescribed the following requirements: 

Award dependent details:

Students take the following elements: 

  • 5 compulsory elements (15 credits except Thesis Preparation=30 credits)
  • 10 optional taught modules (15 credits each)
  • MPhil Stud thesis of around 30,000 words (120 credits)

Total programme credit value = 360

Taught Elements 

There are 5 compulsory taught courses, each of which is an element. These are all assessed as Pass/Fail. 

A candidate must select 10 optional taught courses out of the lists available over the two years, each of which is an element.

To obtain a pass in an optional taught element:

A candidate must obtain a grade of 60% or above. 

Resubmission of failing Optional taught Elements: 

Students have the option to be re-assessed if they fail an element. The deadline for essay resubmissions for the same course will be 1st day of next term after failing grade has been determined. Resubmission is subject to approval of course convener for an element. If convener decides resubmission in the module not appropriate student will have option to retake a course in the same area (from lists A, B and C in regulations).

A fail in an optional taught element may be condoned: 

Where the candidate has achieved a grade between 50 – 59% in the element; and there is a compensating grade 70% or above elsewhere in their optional taught elements. A maximum of two such elements may be condoned.

To pass the MPhil Stud, candidates must normally: 

• Pass all taught elements (which may include up to two elements passed through a fail having been condoned); 

• Pass the thesis element; 

To progress from the first to the second year of the MPhil Stud, candidates must normally: 

• Pass all compulsory elements in the first year;

• Normally have taken seven optional elements in the first year, and passed at least five of these. (A candidate may fail up to two optional elements in the first year, which must then be resubmitted or condoned for pass of the degree in the second year) 

Resit candidates 

• Candidates who have failed to pass the MPhil Stud have the opportunity to resit an element that was failed; 

• The Board of Examiners may, at its discretion, require the candidate to resit only parts of a failed element; 

• Candidates are only allowed to resit each failed element once and must resit at the first available opportunity; 

• In all other respects, the same rules as for first-sit candidates apply to resit candidates. 

Oral Examinations 

The Board of Examiners has the right to require any candidate to be examined orally whether or not an oral examination is part of the scheme of examination.

All candidates are required to attend an oral examination for the thesis element of the degree.


In order to be considered for the award of MPhil Stud in Philosophy, candidates must complete the thesis and pass the viva voce. This element is compulsory.

The thesis shall demonstrate that it:

  • Is genuinely the work of the candidate;
  • Consists of the candidate’s own account of their investigation and indicates in what respects they appear to them to advance the study of the subject;
  • Represents a contribution to the subject, either through a record of the candidate’s original work or a critical and ordered exposition of  existing knowledge and shall provide evidence that the field has been thoroughly surveyed;
  • Takes due account of previously published work on the subject;
  • Makes clear the sources from which information has been derived, the extent to which the work of others has been used, and the areas which are claimed as original;
  • Is an integrated whole and presents a coherent argument;
  • Is written in English and is satisfactory as regards literary presentation;
  • Has a full bibliography and references;
  • Has not exceeded 30,000 words, including notes and appendices, but excluding bibliography.

A series of papers, whether published or otherwise, is not acceptable for submission as a thesis. Research work already published, or submitted for publication, at the time of submission of a thesis, may be included in the thesis. The published papers themselves may not be included in the body of a thesis but may be adapted to form an integral part of a thesis and thereby make a relevant contribution to the main theme of a thesis. Publications derived from the work in a thesis may be bound as supplementary material at the back of a thesis.

Definition of terms

An element is a unit of assessment, which has one or more component parts e.g. a coursework component, and examination component and an oral component. An element is said to be compulsory if it must be passed in order to obtain an award. 

Thesis Information

The MPhil Stud theses is due in on the first working day in September following your second year of the programme. The maximum word length is 30,000 words.

Timescale of MPhil Stud Thesis

Yr 1 Term 3  Assigned Thesis Supervision
Yr 1 Summer Vacation  Independent Thesis Research
Yr 2 Term 1  Independent Thesis Draft - Wollheim Prize submission* 
Yr 2 Term 2 Assigned Thesis Supervision
Yr 2 Term 3  Assigned Thesis Supervision & Exam Entry Forms 
Yr 2 Summer Vacation  Independent Thesis Research 
First Working Day Sept  Thesis Submission (Research Degrees - student center)

As the MPhil Stud is a research degree the official exam entry / appointment of examiners and abstract of thesis forms are required before submission to the UCL Registry. An email specifying the forms needed and information required is sent out early in the second year third term. A link to the registry information is below.

 * Wollheim Prize

The submission consists of a draft thesis chapter (~5000-7000 words) and a thesis chapters outline (~500-2000 words) sometime toward the second half of the second year first term.

The written element is the primary basis for assessment for the prize but there will also be a short interview with the Graduate Committee early in the second term which also gives candidates the opportunity to clarify points and to get some helpful suggestions.

The winner is awarded the £500 prize.

UCL Research Student Log

As a registered research student you are required to update the UCL Research Student Log at regular intervals. 

For departmental purposes we ask that you complete an update at the end of each term. The Graduate Research Tutor / you allocated supervisor (if applicable) will also fill in a report on your progress. Email reminders will be sent from the department office when these are due.

Since the MPhil Stud programme is unique at UCL and does not exactly match the research log intervals we recommend the following mapping:

Research Student Log  Department Report Cycle
Initial   End Term 1 Year 1 
3 months  End Term 2 Year 1 
6 months  End Term 3 Year 1 
12 months  End Term 1 Year 2 
Upgrade  End Term 2 Year 2 
24 months  End Term 3 Year 2 

Please read the Student Quick Reference Guide that is linked from the log in screen of the research student log.

UCL Graduate Skills Courses 

Graduate students are encouraged, and in some cases required by their funding bodies, to seek out and take part in courses of the Skills Development Programme offered by the UCL Graduate School.

Skills courses are there to support students in developing their personal and professional capacities in a wide variety of domains. This ranges from technical skills, like knowing how to use bibliographical or text processing software, to networking strategies, ways of using your voice effectively, small-group teaching, or academic and non-academic career planning.

Are skills courses relevant for philosophers? Yes, they are. In fact, some of these options are offered directly by the Philosophy Department itself, as part of the curriculum. Amongst these are, for example, the Practical Criticism seminar (for first year MPhil Stud students), Recent Philosophical Writings (for all research students), or the Teaching Assistant Training session for students who will work as postgraduate teaching assistants.

Also beyond the Department’s own offerings, many of the skills courses available through the Graduate School are dedicated to competences that are crucial for those who want to make most of their philosophical studies. A session on reading techniques will help you master intricate, lengthy texts, while a language acquisition course will enable you to read philosophical arguments without depending on the interpretations of a translator. There are several courses dedicated to presentation skills– to ways of making your point convincingly toward different audiences. Other courses focus on writing, reviewing, and publishing, which are all key capacities for anyone who is serious about getting their work out there.

All courses in the Skills Development Programme are offered to UCL students free of charge.

Would you like to strengthen your skills or competences in a particular area? Find out what’s currently on offer: http://courses.grad.ucl.ac.uk/

Current Students List



How do I subscribe to GradPhil?

In order to subscribe to the UCL philosophy graduate mailing list you must send a message with the content SUBSCRIBE GRADPHIL to majordomo@ucl.ac.uk

How do I connect to Eduroam (the UCL wireless network)?

You can connect to Eduroam using your UCL userid appended with '@ucl.ac.uk' (e.g. ucxxzano@ucl.ac.uk) and your UCL account password. 


How do I confirm the taught modules I want to take?

You must email your module choices for the academic year to Richard Edwards in the office by Friday 4th October 2013 (the end of the first full week of teaching). The Departmental Graduate Tutor can advise you on these choices.
How many modules can I take?

You are expected to take three options in the first and second terms of the first year, with an additional option in the summer term. You will then take a further three options in the first term of the second year. The remainder of the second year is devoted to work on the thesis. You must take at least two modules from each of the three categories, A (Theoretical), B (Practical) and C (Theoretical) during the programme.
Are any modules compulsory?

In addition to the 10 options modules, first year MPhil Stud students also take Practical Criticism 1 in the Autumn term and Practical Criticism 2 in the Spring term, while second year students must take Thesis Preparation 1 in the Autumn and Thesis Preparation 2 in the Spring. All MPhil Stud students are also required to attend Recent Philosophical Writings throughout the year.
What is the difference between a 'Graduate Studies' course and a 'Research Seminar'?

The emphasis in a Graduate Studies course is on giving students an intensive grounding in a specific area of philosophy, such as philosophy of language, or normative ethics.This will typically involve a syllabus of pedagogically important articles or book chapters.
Can I take undergraduate level courses?

You can only take courses with a code beginning 'PHILG0...'. However, many of these modules are also shared with MA and/or undergradaute students, often resulting in larger classes and a different seminar dynamic. Information about which modules are shared, and with whom, is available on the course list.


What is the deadline for submission of the draft thesis chapter to the Graduate Committee?

This will usually be the last day of the first term in the second year.

When/where will the Wollheim vivas take place?

The Graduate Committee will meet everyone individually around the start of the second term for an oral examination of the written work. Please be aware when booking holiday travel etc. that the vivas may take place before the start of term.

How long should the thesis be?

It should be around 30,000 words in length.

When is the deadline for submission of the thesis?

The deadline is the first working day in September. Please note that you will need to arrange for your thesis to be appropriately bound prior to submission, and that this can take several days.

How can I get my thesis bound and what are the requirements?

Please see the registry thesis information. The links at the foot of the page explain the format requirements for UCL theses - please make yourself aware of these requirements well in advance of the deadline. A list of binding companies is also provided. Generally speaking you can send binding companies a formatted PDF or .doc file of your thesis and they will print and bind it for you to specification.

When will my thesis viva take place?

Your thesis viva will be arranged with your chosen examiners for a mutually convenient date, usually within a few months of submission.


What are the word limits for assessed essays?
Assessed essays for taught modules should be around 4500 words in length.

What are the grade boundaries?

The pass mark for MPhil Stud level modules is 60, with 70 unofficially considered a mark of 'distinction'.

What are the degree classifications for the MPhil Stud?

The MPhil Stud is a research degree and is therefore classified on a simple pass/fail basis.

Page last modified on 18 jul 13 10:08