MA (Values & Knowledge) — full-time and part-time

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies

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 value 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 value (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 value.
  • To explore how the cognitive significance of value 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.

Key facts

Entry requirements

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

Duration: 1 year full-time;
2 years part-time

Next start date: September 2015

ECTS weighting: 90

Average intake: 12

Closing date: Please view offer rounds website

Mode of study: Taught

Course outline

Semester 1Semester 2
Research Methods (10 ECTS) CORE PI504.II Philospphy seminar: participation and management (10 ECTS) CORE
Political Values in the Modern World (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL Values and Knowledge (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL
Moral Reasoning (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL The Philosophy of Emotion (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL
PI25 Rationality and Relativism (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL Knowledge and Value in Modernity (10 ECTS) OPTIONAL


A Research Dissertation will be undertaken during the Summer (30 ECTS)


Course Descriptions

Research Methods: 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.

Assessment: Continuous and departmental assessment


Philosophy seminar - participation and management: 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: Continuous assessment


Political Values in the Modern World: 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 implicitly 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.

Assessment: Essay and project


Moral Reasoning: 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 habits or 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.

Assessment: Continuous and departmental assessment


Rationality and Relativism: There are bad arguments and good arguments. Chains of reasoning can be cogent or confused. In other words there are rational standards. But are these standards universal, or do they vary from culture to culture? Some claim the study of alien systems of thought has shown that there are no universal rational standards; others that such study is not even possible unless we assume that there are. We will explore both views.

Assessment: essay


Values and Knowledge: The module addresses - historically and critically - the relation between value and knowledge from Hume to the present. Its 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? We also consider if there is a necessary connection between value and the possibility of self-consciousness and knowledge of an objective world.

Assessment: essay


The Philosophy of Emotion:  This course will take a historical and systematic approach to emotion. The first half will trace three main historical periods: the classical and early medieval period; the late medieval and modern period and the contemporary period. The second half will examine the systematic issues which are raised in this historical examination: the cognitive content of emotions, the distinction between primary and secondary emotions, the distinction between emotion and passion, and the relation of morality and emotion.

Assessment: essay and departmental assessment.


Knowledge and Value in Modernity: This module will examine the issues of value and knowledge in the historical context of modernity. Attention will be given to such issues as the character of human subjectivity, the relation between mind and world, objectivity, the status of natural science and human values, and the character of modern culture. A range of modern philosophers will be discussed, including Hume, Kant and Nietzsche. Attention will also be given to intersections between modern and contemporary arguments.

Assessment: essay and departmental assessment


Who teaches this course?

Professor Paul Crowther, BA, MA, Ph.D

Dr Tsarina Doyle, BA, MA, Ph.D

Dr Richard Hull, BA, B.Phil. Oxon., Ph.D

Dr Felix Ó Murchadha, BA, MA, Dr. Phil

Dr Heike Schmidt-Felzmann, Dr. Phil, Dipl. Psych., MA

Dr Nick Tosh, M.Sci., Ph.D

Find out more

Dr. Tsarina Doyle

E: | T: 353 91 495 473

PAC code

GYA06 full-time
GYA66 part-time

Fees for this course

EU (Total): €6,015 p.a. 2015/16 (inclusive of Levy)
 - Tuition: €5,791 p.a. 2015/16 (full time)
 - Student levy: €224 p.a. 2015/16
Non-EU (Total): €13,250 p.a. 2015/16

€6,015 EU Full time p.a. €3,065 EU Part time p.a.

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.