Universiteit Leiden

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Ethics and Politics (MA)

About the programme

The programme consists of 60 EC, to be completed in one year.

You will take four courses (10 EC each) in the area of Ethics and Politics. In the second semester, you will be writing your master’s thesis (20 EC) supported by a mandatory thesis seminar.

The master’s thesis should be an independent academic contribution to philosophy in the field of Ethics and Politics. Before graduation you will sit for a final exam for which you will defend your thesis and possibly answer questions about a selection of other subjects.

Assessment of courses is normally based on class presentations, assignments, and a final (research) paper.

  • Seminars
  • Self-study
  • Internship options
  • Class presentations
  • Course assignments
  • Midterm and term papers
  • Thesis

Latest research

All courses are taught by academics who are active researchers. Content is continuously updated to reflect contemporary academic debates and the very latest insights – many from the research conducted by lecturers on the programme. The rigorous academic design of the programme aims to develop in you essential skills in reasoning and critical thinking, as well as advanced abilities in independently conducting high-quality scientific research and developing this data into an academic dissertation.

Detailed programme

For a detailed programme, see the current student’s website of the master’s programme in History. For information on separate courses, see the Prospectus.

Tim Meijers

Researcher and University Lecturer

Tim Meijers

“In our programme, questions in ethics and political philosophy are approached from a diversity of theoretical perspectives: contemporary and historical, continental and analytical; 'western' and 'global' and everything in between. Students have the opportunity to discuss, challenge and form an opinion on questions in ethics and political philosophy small scale seminars.”

Deeply held convictions

"Participating in this programme requires students to scrutinize and critically consider many of their deeply held convictions about what we owe to each other and why. For example, we often take it for granted that the state has a right to rule, that punishment of criminals is justified, or that we have special obligations to compatriots. But are these common sense convictions justified, and why?"

Political philosophy

"I work in political and moral philosophy. My research focuses on two main questions: what do we owe to future generations, and - taking into account that we live in an unequal and unjust world - who can be asked to realize the demands of justice? Debates I touch on while thinking about these issues are the ethics of climate change, the ethics of migration, global justice, ethics and the family, reproductive rights and the like."

Mark Rutgers


Mark Rutgers

“Many of our master’s students discover the quality of our programmes only after they join us. In the Netherlands, self-promotion is not a big part of our culture, yet Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty ranks alongside the most prestigious universities in the world, and is the established leader in continental Europe. What can our students expect from this programme? An education on par with the world’s best, with teaching by top researchers.”

Alumni: close-knit global community

“Your graduation from a master’s programme marks a new chapter in your relationship with Leiden University. Our alumni community is highly active in terms of network-building and development. They are valued by the university, and we support them with personal and professional development and free use of our facilities such as the Leiden University Library. This close-knit global community offers life-long support for all our former students in terms of reaching goals, maintaining friendships and expanding networks.”

Research: encouraging you to think beyond your own discipline

“Some of the most high-profile humanities research produced today is conducted at Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty. These faculty members are among a handful worldwide who can lay claim to such a depth and breadth of academic expertise. One example is our centre of excellence on Native American cultures, languages and history – a research group that is one of the best in the world. At Leiden, we can offer students expertise in most niche areas of interest. Our faculty members often work together across disciplines, and encourage students to think beyond the limits of their own discipline, which is where the future of innovative research lies.”

Careers: opportunities to develop your talent

Decisions made during your studies have a big impact on your future. We offer you many opportunities to develop your talents both within and outside of the classroom, including internships, study trips abroad, student committees, and minors. These opportunities help define your objectives for after your studies, and equip you with additional skills and experience.”

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