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Philosophy Research Master

Silke Mast is master ambassador for the Philosophy research master.

Silke Mast
Silke Mast

I knew quite early on in my studies that I wanted to pursue a career in academia. When it came to choosing a master, therefore, it was clear that it was going to have to be a research-oriented master. My desire to specialise in metaethics narrowed down my options to Stockholm University, University of Edinburgh and the University of Groningen. I ended up deciding on the University of Groningen for a number of reasons.

Firstly, I had spent a year studying philosophy in Groningen already and had a very positive experience. The faculty is small and independent. This makes for an informal setting in which it is easy to approach staff; if you have a question or get stuck with a paper your writing, you can pop by their office, send them an e-mail or stop them in the hallway. As a research master student, you get provided with a mentor for extra support. Your mentor is a member of your department who is available for advice on your programme, your term abroad and any other concerns or problems.

Secondly, the University of Groningen offers the possibility of a very personalised programme. There are two obligatory courses: Core Issues and Research in Practice. Core Issues is a year-long course of weekly three-hour seminars on four topics supplied by the different departments. Research in Practice is a series of seminars that spans across three semesters and focusses on helping you develop professional skills. The rest of the courses are electives; you choose the courses that interest you from the master courses that are on offer. You have to expand three of these courses with a ‘tutorial’. Tutorials are one-to-one sessions with the teacher of the course where you either extend the paper from the course or write a new paper. If the courses on offer do not meet your interests and you can find someone willing to supervise you, it is sometimes possible (with permission from the exam committee) to follow a tutorial on a topic of your choosing.

I think there are two major advantages of being able to personalise your programme in this way. The first is that it allows you to put the focus of your programme on the topic or topics that interests you most. All the non-obligatory courses I take are either on metaethics, or relevant to metaethics. If you have not yet decided on a topic you want to pursue, however, you can also decide to keep to focus of your programme quite general. The second advantage of a personalised programme is that you can decide for yourself how challenging you want it. I should note that the programme tends to be considered rather challenging on its own, so in most cases there is no need to go out of your way to make it more challenging.

Thirdly, the programme includes a semester abroad. By choosing Groningen, I still get the opportunity to study at Stockholm University, or one of the other partners universities of the University of Groningen.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, there are many opportunities for research master students. There is the possibility of taking on a position as teaching assistant for one of the bachelor courses or for a member of staff who is writing a book or organising a workshop or a Winter- or Summer School. Moreover, you get to take part in department meetings where staff papers are presented (and present your master thesis there), join reading groups, attend colloquia and join in for drinks and dinner with the speaker afterwards. As a research master student then, you are not just a student at the faculty, you are also a member of the larger ‘research community’.

In conclusion, if you are looking for a challenging, research-oriented philosophy programme, then the Research Master in Philosophy at the University of Groningen deserves your consideration. For questions about being a Research Master student please contact me at:

Last modified:09 February 2018 5.49 p.m.