About the course
The MSt in Practical Ethics offers high quality training in practical ethics through flexible, part-time learning.
This course is run jointly by the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics in the Faculty of Philosophy, and the Department for Continuing Education, and draws on the internationally recognised expertise of the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Ethox Centre and the Faculty of Philosophy.
The course is highly interdisciplinary in character but the primary focus is ethical and philosophical: students will learn how to apply rigorous philosophical analysis to real-life ethical problems and will be provided with a grounding in key ethical concepts and methods, as well as in major debates in practical ethics. Students will also have the opportunity for in-depth research on a topic of their choice.
The course is relevant to students from a range of professional backgrounds, including medicine and other health sciences, cognitive science, philosophy, bioethics and the legal and public policy sectors.
Oxford was ranked as the top university for the study of ethics by the Centre for World University Rankings in 2017, and ranked as the top university in applied ethics by the Philosophical Gourmet Report.
- Ethical Concepts and Methods
- Well-Being, Disability and Enhancement
- Philosophy, Psychiatry and Mental Health
- Ethics of the Beginning and End of Life
- Research Ethics and Empirical Ethics.
Specific career paths include posts relating to public policy development, to clinical ethics and research ethics within hospitals and health care facilities, the teaching of ethics in the professional context as well as enhancing career development more broadly in a range of fields through deep engagement with relevant ethical issues.
The course will provide rigorous and formal training in methods and theories in practical ethics to provide students with the skills needed to apply for leading PhD courses.
Changes to the course
The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.
Entry requirements for entry in 2019-20
Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:
1. Academic ability
Proven and potential academic excellence
Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in any subject.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA normally sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.
If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).
However, in the absence of an appropriate undergraduate degree, sufficient relevant professional experience and/or other educational attainment may be considered as evidence of suitability in some circumstances.
No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.
Other appropriate indicators will include:
You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.
Performance at interview(s)
Interviews are not normally held as part of the admissions process.
Publications are not expected.
2. English language requirement
Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.
3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places
The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:
- The ability of the Faculty of Philosophy to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work.
- Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.
The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:
- The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Faculty of Philosophy and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff.
- A supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Philosophy.
Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.
4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties
Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.
Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.
Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.
All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).
Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.
6. Other information
Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.
Face-to-face teaching will be carried out in teaching rooms within the Department for Continuing Education. The department has extensive IT provision: all offices and dedicated student rooms are networked into the university system.
The OUDCE Graduate School offers a dedicated study space equipped with wireless-access, printing facilities, interactive whiteboard, and data projection, to support independent individual and small-group study, enabling part-time students to make best use of their time in residence in Oxford.
During the teaching blocks in Oxford and other study visits, students will also have access to university facilities and support including libraries, IT services, career and counselling services, and sport and recreation. As members of a college, MSt students will also benefit from pastoral support and sporting and social facilities within their college.
Students will also have access to Oxford University’s IT Services, which includes access to IT equipment (terminals, printers and scanners), the Help Centre, shop, training courses, and the personal computer maintenance service. IT Services also offers remote access services including use of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.
Books required for the taught course will be held on reserve in the library of the Department for Continuing Education. In addition, all students will have access to the university’s libraries online.
Students will be members of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, which hosts a large international community of scholars in practical ethics, and will be invited to join the centre's events and other activities.
Students will also have access to Oxford University’s IT Services, which includes access to IT equipment (terminals, printers and scanners), the Help Centre, shop, training courses, and the personal computer maintenance service. IT Services also offers remote access services including dialup accounts, and use of the Virtual Private Network (VPN) service.
There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.
Modular course fees
The fees for this course are charged on a modular basis. You will pay an annual course fee and an additional fee for each module studied. A minimum of two annual course fees are payable for this course. If this course includes a dissertation, three module fees will be charged for the dissertation.
Fees for the 2019-20 academic year
Annual course fee
Fee per module
Total estimated fees
|£1,835||£1,540||Please see the department’s website for further details|
Course fees cover your teaching as well as other academic services and facilities provided to support your studies. Unless specified in the additional information section below, course fees do not cover your accommodation, residential costs or other living costs. They also don’t cover any additional costs and charges that are outlined in the additional information below. You may have seen separate figures in the past for tuition fees and college fees. We have now combined these into a single figure.
Course fees are payable each year, for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay course fees). For courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.
For more information about course fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details of the implications of the UK’s plans to leave the European Union.
This course has residential sessions in Oxford. You will need to meet your travel and accommodation costs in attending these sessions. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.
In addition to your course fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.
For the 2019-20 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between c. £1,058 and £1,643 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our living costs page. When planning your finances for any future years of study in Oxford beyond 2019-20, you should allow for an estimated increase in living expenses of 3% each year.
If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.
How to apply
You are not expected to make contact with an academic member of staff before you apply. However, if you wish to contact an academic member of staff, please email the Course Administrator who will forward your email to the relevant person.
The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:
Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.
More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.
A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.
Up to 1,000 words
Your statement should detail the relevance of your background, why you have an interest in practical ethics, and draft ideas for your research project.
This will be assessed for:
- your reasons for applying
- evidence of understanding of the proposed area of study
- your ability to present a coherent case in proficient English
- your commitment to the subject, beyond the requirements of the degree course
- your preliminary knowledge of the subject area and research techniques
- your capacity for sustained and intense work
- reasoning ability
- ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace.
References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, of which at least two should be academic
Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.
Your references will be assessed for:
- your intellectual ability
- your academic achievement
- your motivation and interest in the course and subject area
- your ability to work effectively both in a group and independently.