The variety of modules available to us
The thing that immediately drew me towards applying for the Philosophy MA at KCL was the incredible diversity of the course content. While many universities offer a handful of specialised modules, I can’t say that I encountered any other that had quite as many as KCL. The available syllabus truly spans the entire world and the history of philosophy. There are multiple modules covering the ancient period with Indian and Greek philosophy, through into the medieval and early modern periods and right up into the contemporary analytic-continental divide in philosophy.
With all the variety of available modules, it allows each MA student to further explore the rich content of the entire subject and broaden their horizons. It also enables students already wishing to specialise into a particular aspect of philosophy to craft their MA to suit their interests, meaning no lecture will feel wasted.
The expertise of our lecturers
Currently, I am taking a module on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, taught by John Callanan. The entire module is devoted to working through one of the most important texts in the history of philosophy, one which is known to be staggeringly difficult to grasp. However, John manages to make the text come to life in his lectures and seminars in such a way that it becomes completely comprehensible. After a week of difficult and advanced reading, it’s always astounding how quickly and how clearly John manages to explain the complex content of Kant’s critique.
The expertise of the lecturers in the philosophy department doesn’t just lie in their knowledge of the subject, it’s also in their fantastic ability to teach the subject to those unfamiliar with it. The most amazing thing has been that the expertise in the subject and in teaching has been at such an impressive level for every lecturer I’ve had the pleasure of learning from.
Our research seminars
Once a week, the students on the Philosophy MA gather together for a research seminar. These seminars are divided week by week to either be talks given by guest lecturers or by one of the students themselves. While the guest lecturers always bring new and exciting research to be shared with us, the part that I really love is the talks given by us students. Entirely voluntarily, we give each other talks on whatever area of philosophy currently has grasped our attention, before opening up the floor for discussion. These seminars make for the perfect environment to share essay, dissertation or even doctoral thesis ideas and to get feedback on them in a non-judgemental and highly constructive environment.
Our department building
Much like the subject itself, the philosophy building is a rather arcane complex. It’s something of a maze of winding corridors and stairways that can sometimes be quite confusing to navigate. However, this perplexing structure does have some very endearing side effects. It means that, unlike many other departments, the philosophy building has plenty of quiet areas, which means when studying you’ll have no trouble going undisturbed. There’s also a satisfying feeling that comes from mastering navigating the building, similar to mastering some Wittgenstein, especially when you learn about all the hidden treasures of the department – like the Philosophy Bar where students congregate after classes to unwind after a day of considering the big questions.
The support provided to take us beyond
One of the things I love the most about the program, that I think will have the longest-lasting impact on my life, is the support the department has provided in taking me forward. Not only have there been multiple talks on further academic progression and non-academic careers, but I’ve also had the chance to have one-to-one talks with multiple lecturers on my plans for after I graduate from the MA program. Every lecturer has been committed to helping me organise applications and proposals for my next steps and it’s that advice and help that I’ll truly never forget.
Dougie has also written on a day in the life of a Philosophy MA student.
For more information on what careers you can pursue with a Philosophy degree, check out Aaran’s post.
Update 2022: Please note, the Philosophy bar at King’s is temporarily closed – please check the King’s website for the most up to date information.