The Extended MA

The UCD School of Philosophy also offers the Extended MA, a two-year programme designed for graduates from other subjects without any background in philosophy. In the first year you will take 12 (or 14 depending on your previous studies*) existing undergraduate modules in two semesters. If you do well enough on these modules, you will automatically be offered a place in one of our normal MA programmes, and you will spend the second year doing this with the other MA students.

Effectively this gives you the necessary background in philosophy without spending the full three undergraduate years on it. And if you discover that philosophy is not quite what you thought it was, you can withdraw from the Extended MA after completing the required modules*, and (if you have passed all the modules) you will still be awarded a degree – the Higher Diploma in Arts.

How it works

In formal terms, you first apply to the programme called the Higher Diploma in Arts, and this is the programme on which you will be registered. Once your application is successful, then you must choose at least 12 available undergraduate modules (60 credits*), of which

  • 6 must be Level-2 modules (those beginning with a ‘2’), and at least four of these must be taken in the first semester.
  • 6 must be Level-3 modules (those beginning with a ‘3’).

In order to progress to the second year of the Extended MA, you must pass all 12 modules, with an overall average mark of B- (GPA of 3.2). This final GPA calculation is normally available by the end of May in a given academic year.

The second year of the Extended MA is essentially a normal MA programme, and you will be invited to choose one of our several different programmes. At this point you become a normal MA student, you take six MA modules with the other MA students, and you write the full 12,000-word MA dissertation, due by the middle of August.

Note that the Extended MA is also available on a part-time basis, so you may take more time to complete the requirements. Please contact the School of Philosophy if you wish to know more about this option.

*If, in your first degree, you have never taken any philosophy (not even as an elective), then we will require a bit more preparation before you start the MA portion: you will have to take 14 modules (70 credits), and this will require at least three semesters. Two of those modules must then be Level-1 modules, and you must take them in the first semester. The requirement for the remaining 12 modules is as above, but you can take some of them in your first semester. If you take the 14-module version, then you will spend the first year and a half (three semesters) taking the Higher Diploma, and (subject to satisfactory results) you could then start the MA portion in January of the second academic year, finishing in December. The entire Extended MA would therefore take two and a half years.

Contact: for further information about the Extended MA, its requirements, and its application procedures, please contact the Philosophy manager, Helen Kenny, at:

One final note

Most undergraduate students take first-year philosophy modules to see what philosophy is all about. Since the (12-module) Extended MA programme skips the first year, you are strongly encouraged to do some preparatory reading in philosophy before you begin. Here are some good introductions to philosophy, all available through Amazon:

  • Thomas Nagel, What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy, 1987
  • Simon Blackburn, Think: a Compelling Introduction to Philosophy, 2001
  • Warburton, Philosophy: the Basics, 2012
  • Thomas A. Flynn, Existentialism. A Very Short Introduction, 2006
  • Simon Critchley, Continental Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, 2001
  • Julia Annas, Ancient Philosophy. A Very Short Introduction, 2000.
  • Jean-Paul Sartre, Existentialism is a Humanism, 1946 [various editions]
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morality, 1887 [various editions]
  • Plato, The Apology of Socrates [various editions]