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MSc Philosophy of Science

About the MSc programme 

Science is full of seemingly miraculous predictions, shocking revolutions, and utterly strange discoveries, while remaining one of the most powerful tools we have for studying the world. What makes science special? How does science work?

The MSc in Philosophy of Science explores these and many other questions, with a deep and rigorous programme of coursework and research in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method. This historic Department, having been founded by one of the most influential philosophers of science of the 20th century, Karl Popper, also hosted the great philosopher and logician Imre Lakatos. The building that hosts the Department now bears his name (the Lakatos Building).

The Department is regularly ranked among the top places in the world to study the philosophy of science. The Philosophical Gourmet Report ranks the Department as the number one place in the world to do graduate work in philosophy of social science, among the top five departments in the world for decision, rational choice and game theory, among the top 10 for general philosophy of science, and among the top 15 for philosophy of physics. The Department was also found in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise to rank joint third in the UK for the proportion of its work deemed 'world-leading'.

This programme is an exciting, deep and intensive look at the philosophy of science with some of the field's top researchers. Students also typically enjoy tightly knit social groups with others of similar interests, with many campus food and drink facilities and departmental activities available to students throughout the year.

The MSc in Philosophy of Science recruits students from across the world, admitting a rich and diverse incoming class.

Applicants are considered only if they hold a first or upper second class (2:1) honours degree or equivalent (e.g. a GPA of 3.5 or higher from a United States programme). Applicants should also express considered interest in the philosophy of science as covered by the MSc.

The MSc in Philosophy of Science courses are primarily designed to be accessible and stimulating for two main audiences: (a) those who have studied science as undergraduates and would now like to study in depth the philosphical foundations and methodology of science; and (b) those who have studied philosophy and would now like to study philosophy of science in greater depth.

However, there are no formal requirements that applicants come from any particular area of study before pursuing this degree.

Programme details

A typical examined course includes 20 hours of lecture and 30 hours of seminar, with a guarantee that no seminar will have more than 15 students. These seminars are often discursive, and provide a unique opportunity to enjoy regular one-on-one interactions with the course lecturers.

In addition, the programme includes 30 hours of teaching in a dissertation research and writing seminar, in which students develop the skills needed to write a research thesis.

Additional one-on-one meetings are available to support dissertation writing and coursework in the degree, and may be requested by the student during office hours or by appointment.

Compulsory courses

(*half unit) 

  • Either Philosophy of Science provides an overview of the major traditions and theories of the philosophy of science, including metaphysical questions, as well as methodological questions about how science works or Scientific Method and Policy addresses questions such as the following: What counts as evidence for deciding the best policy? Are certain types of evidence (for instance, that from large-sample randomised trials) more objective and thus more telling than others? Do scientists have a responsibility to communicate policy-relevant research in a value-free way? In what sense, if any, is science a 'public good', and what does this mean for how it should be governed?

The Dissertation Seminar is a non-assessed course, intended to develop the ability to construct sharp analytic philosophical arguments and to write structured philosophical essays. The Dissertation is a 10,000 word thesis, which is completed over the summer and must be submitted in early September at the assigned deadline.

Students will then be expected to choose courses to the value of one unit from a range of options.

Please read the following important information before referring to full details of course options found in the Programme Regulations.

The programme regulations available are for the current academic session and may be subject to change before the beginning of the next academic year. For more information about course availability in the next academic session, please contact the relevant academic department. The School reserves the right at all times to withdraw, suspend or alter particular courses and syllabuses, and to alter the level of fees. Courses are on occasion capped (limited to a maximum number of students) or subject to entry conditions requiring the approval of the course convenor. The School cannot guarantee that places on specific courses will be available.

Graduate destinations

This master's programme prepares students for many different possible destinations, including:

  • PhD work in philosophy or related disciplines
  • Employment in many non-academic fields such as science journalism, science administration, science management

For a selection of reports from graduates see: lse.ac.uk/MScPhilosophyOfSciencePlacement



Application code: V5UG (check availability)

Start date: 24 September 2015

Duration: 12 months full-time, 24 months part-time

Intake/applications in 2013: 13/41

Minimum entry requirement: 2:1 or first class degree, with a considered interest in the areas covered by the MSc. Most students have a science background or one in philosophy (see entry requirements)

English requirement: Standard (see English requirements)

GRE/GMAT requirement: None

Fee level: UK/EU £12,024;
overseas £18,600

Financial support: Graduate Support Scheme (see Fees and financial support). Lakatos Memorial Scholarship – £4,000 award for a single philosophy student

Application deadline: None – rolling admissions

Notes: If your first language is not English, you must submit a writing sample of 5-10 typewritten pages