Philosophy (MA) (120EC)
Create a world of opportunities with a master's degree from Leiden University.
The master’s programme in Philosophy (120 EC) offers outstanding preparation for students seeking a profession that requires knowledge of a specific discipline and the added value of advanced skills in logic, reasoning, abstraction and critical thinking.
What our graduates do
Successful completion of the master’s programme can lead to PhD research and an academic career, or in the public, private or non-profit sectors. 75% of our students choose to enter a PhD programme after their studies, primarily in the Netherlands, the UK, the US, Germany or France. The remaining 25% already have a job when they joined the programme and were seeking to enhance their performance.
You will find our graduates working in an astonishingly wide range of professions and professional organisations. Examples include:
- PhD student at a Dutch university
- Curator at a gallery
- Project advisor on digital literacy
- Campaign strategist for a Campaign developer
- Scientific employee for a foundation
If you are interested in a career in teaching, you can apply for the Dutch-taught teacher-training MA at the ICLON Graduate School of Education after graduating from the master’s programme. To be admitted, you need to have a master’s degree in the relevant discipline. Fluency in Dutch is mandatory, and additional entry requirements may apply.
A Leiden University degree
Leiden University Master's graduates are sought-after employees at (inter)national organisations. Our graduates are known for their combination of robust academic training, in-depth and relevant knowledge, and critical, multidisciplinary approach to problem-solving.
Graduated in Philosophy of Law (MA Philosophy 120)
“As a legal consultant, I provide legal support to employees who come into conflict with their employer. I use my input to try to get both parties back to the negotiating table. If this is no longer possible, negotiations are necessary to find a definitive resolution. Sometimes, if no settlement can be reached, the case goes to an appeals board or a court. Being able to give a voice to the ‘weaker’ employee in the face of a strong employer is inspiring and gives me a sense of satisfaction.”
Learning to (literally) think through abstract texts and concepts
“During this Master’s specialisation, you learn to (literally) think through abstract texts and concepts. What is the rationale, the thinking, behind a text? In my legal ‘craft’, there is often a need to interpret legal texts and collective labour agreements. These texts, which can be abstract, are not set in stone, but rather are constantly changing, so you can’t look only at the literal interpretation of the text; the intention and the spirit are just as important. If you can think in the abstract, you have an advantage over the opposition.”
Getting into even more philosophical depth
“Once I’d completed the Master’s degree in Jurisprudence and Philosophy of Law within the Faculty of Law, I wanted to study philosophy in even more depth. This Master’s specialisation definitely met this expectation. The course offers a great opportunity to add philosophical depth to legal questions, a depth which, unfortunately, you don’t get from the classical study of law.”
Jaap van Diggele
Graduated in Philosophy
“Like many budding philosophers, I started out wanting to unravel the workings of the universe. But as my studies progressed, I realized philosophy actually is much more down to earth and practical!”
United Nations and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs
“I worked with the United Nations and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, mainly in the Middle East. Trying to address the root causes of conflict or extremism has many philosophical dimensions, that put the politics into perspective. When is it morally justified to act (or not). How do we work with people and organizations when our world views seem so far apart? What should the relationship between a state and its people be?”
Uncover the logic
“In my day-to-day work my philosophical skills have proved very useful. Philosophy taught me to uncover the logic in arguments that at first make no sense at all. It taught me to separate transient distractions from fundamental problems. And after one has had to read Wittgenstein, reading even the most complicated conflict analysis is a piece of cake!”
The graphs below are based on alumni data from the MA (120EC) in Philosophy 2016-2020.
In which sector do students find jobs?
- 32 % Government and semi-government organisations
- 17 % Consultancy
- 17 % Research
- 17 % Non-profit
- 17 % Culture, sports and leisure
How successful are they in finding a job?
- 50 % found a job within two months
- 67 % found their first job at academic level
The master’s programme in Philosophy (120 EC) at Leiden University aims to equip you with a range of intellectual skills and academic attitude that can help you thrive in any position. Your high-level skills in abstraction, reasoning and critical thinking are intellectual skills that can be applied within any role, to any conceptual problem.
A growing number of students choose to do an internship during their study. Internships are a great way to gain firsthand experience in your area of interest before you decide on making it a career.
In recent years students from the MA Philosophy (120EC) have been doing internships at the following organisations:
- Filosofie Magazine
- Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Dutch Library)
- Peace Palace The Hague
- Ministry of Infrastructure and Environment Dutch Consulate Office in Chongquing, China
Our staff can help you identify both the career that is right for you, and the necessary steps to get you there. Our team at Humanities Career Service provide all Leiden University humanities students with professional advice and guidance on everything from internships and career planning to job applications. Humanities Career Service also organises regular workshops on topics such as effective interview skills and creating a successful CV.
The Humanities Career Service offers you various (online) workshops, webinars and info sessions. Check our overview of career activities.
The Leiden University Career Zone is an online career portal that helps you to prepare for the job market. Here you can find information, tools and tips to help you gain more personal insight, learn about the job market, develop your application skills, plan your academic and professional career, find job vacancies and discover what the Career Service can do for you.
Join the Mentor Network to contact alumni with experience on the labour market and ask them for advice. More than 1200 alumni are happy to help you!
Jelle on finding an internship via Leiden University's Mentor Network
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