MSt in Practical Ethics
The MSt offers high-quality training in practical ethics, drawing on the internationally recognised expertise of Oxford’s Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Ethox Centre and the Faculty of Philosophy.
This new course run by the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics in the Faculty of Philosophy, and the Department for Continuing Education, provides training in practical ethics through flexible, part-time learning. The course is highly interdisciplinary in character but the primary focus is ethical and philosophical. It focuses on the application of rigorous philosophical analysis to real-life ethical problems and provides a grounding in 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.
Who is the course for?
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.
Ethics at Oxford
Oxford is ranked as the top University to study ethics  with research in this area led by the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics. The course is led by the Uehiro Centre’s Professor Julian Savulescu and Associate Professor Guy Kahane with additional teaching from the Medical Division’s Ethox Centre. Other researchers from the Oxford Uehiro Centre and beyond will contribute to the course, including Professor Edward Harcourt, Professor Dominic Wilkinson, Drs Thomas Douglas and Hannah Maslen, and Ethox’s Drs Mark Sheehan and Mikey Dunn. There will be other occasional lectures by world experts such as White’s Chair of Moral Philosophy, Jeff McMahan.
 Center for World University Rankings (CWUR), 12/07/17, 14:16
MSt students participate in the life of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, a vibrant research centre in Practical Ethics with around 20 staff members working on a range of issues in Practical Ethics, and will study under members of the Ethox Centre in the Department of Public Health.
The MSt in Practical Ethics is a part-time course consisting of six taught modules and a dissertation. Students will be assigned a tutor throughout the taught elements of the course.
- 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
Each module will be taught over an intensive residential teaching week in Oxford to include lectures, seminars, discussion groups and student presentations. Modules are normally provided in clusters, offering students options around the number of visits to Oxford each year. Online materials are available including essential readings, texts and online lectures, alongside forums where students can communicate and continue discussion when away from Oxford.
- provides high quality training in practical ethics, drawing on the considerable teaching and research strengths of Oxford in this area.
- offers students the opportunity to develop their critical thinking and analytical skills, and to build an in-depth knowledge of contemporary ethical and philosophical issues.
- is designed to accommodate philosophy graduates wanting to specialise in practical ethics and professionals with a background in other relevant areas (e.g. medicine or law) who either wish to transition to practical ethics or who desire training in practical ethics to supplement their career.
- is flexible, allowing students to complete the course part-time with short but intensive teaching sessions in Oxford, allowing employed professionals to complete the degree without disruption to their careers.
- covers a wide range of topics within practical ethics, including both core issues in bioethics and medical ethics and emerging areas of research such as neuroethics and the philosophy of mental health.
- is research-led, taught by (and informed by the research of) leading contributors to current debates in practical ethics.
Programme Director: Professor Julian Savulescu
Professor Julian Savulescu has held the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford since 2002. He holds degrees in medicine, neuroscience and bioethics. He is the Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics within the Faculty of Philosophy. In 2014, he was awarded a Wellcome Trust Senior Investigator award to work on Responsibility and Health Care. He is also Director of the Institute for Science and Ethics within the Oxford Martin School at the University of Oxford, where he examines the ethical implications of technology affecting the mind, as well as leading an interdisciplinary programme on collective responsibility for infectious disease. In 2017, he will establish the interdisciplinary Wellcome Centre for Ethics and Humanities with co-Directors in Public Health, Psychiatry and History.
Professor Savulescu is a leader in medical and practical ethics. He is Editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, the highest impact journal in the field, and founding editor of Journal of Practical Ethics, an open access journal in Practical Ethics.
Course Director: Associate Professor Guy Kahane
Dr Guy Kahane is the Director of Studies at the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and Deputy Director of the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He is also a Fellow and Tutor in Philosophy in Pembroke College, Oxford and Associate Professor at the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford. Kahane joined the Uehiro Centre as research fellow in 2005, and held a Wellcome Trust University Award in Biomedical Ethics from 2009 to 2014. Kahane is the author of over 70 papers on practical ethics, the psychology and neuroscience of morality, and on other topics in moral philosophy. He was associate editor of the Journal of Medical Ethics, and is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Practical Ethics.
Teaching staff and associates of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics will present on the week-long intensive sessions.
Assessment for each module is based on one 3,500 word essay per module. Students will also complete a dissertation on a topic chosen in consultation with a supervisor and the Course Director. The dissertation should not normally exceed 15,000 words.
Fees (2020-21 academic year)
These rates (in pounds sterling) are for students joining in the 2020-21 academic year and will increase annually.
The annual award fee is due for every academic year (or part-year) attended; module or dissertation fees are due in advance as invoiced. Fees must be paid in accordance with the Terms and Conditions for the programme.
Annual Award Fee (minimum of two):
£1,600 (per taught module)
£4,800 (equivalent to 3 module fees)
Illustration for full programme (completing in two years, with six taught modules and a dissertation):
2 annual award fees: £3,820 (see notes 1 and 2)
plus 6 module fees: £9,600 (see notes 1 and 2)
plus dissertation fees: £4,800 (see notes 1 and 2)
Total: £18,220 (see notes 1 and 2)
- The fee rates listed are for the academic year shown, and you should be aware that these rates will increase annually.
- The illustration is based on the fee rates for the academic year shown; however, fee rates for attendance in future years will increase, so students attending for more than one year should expect the total to be higher than is shown in the illustration. The exact amount will depend on the fee rates set annually, and upon the years you are in attendance; these are normally published well before the start of each academic year, but for your own budgetary purposes you may wish to estimate a 5% annual increase on fee rates.
- MSt students are matriculated and are full members of the Collegiate University; college fees are included within the MSt programme fees and are paid to the colleges on a student’s behalf.
Exceptionally, students may wish to complete the programme within one year. If you plan to take this route, it is recommended that you discuss this with the Course Director in advance to assess the feasibility in your circumstances (please note the minimum 2 annual award fees apply for the one year route).
Details of funding opportunities, including grants, bursaries, loans, scholarships and benefit information are available on our sources of funding page and the fees and funding page which includes a fees, funding and scholarship search function.
Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library
Students have access to the Philosophy and Theology Faculties Library in the Radcliffe Humanities Building (which houses over 25,000 volumes and has an extensive collection of periodical and on-line access to many philosophical databases), and to the University’s Bodleian Library (one of five copyright libraries in the UK, it holds 6,500,000 volumes and offers a unique research facility to the University), as well as to the numerous other specialist research libraries in Oxford. The centre hosts a growing library of applied ethics and other related books.
The Department for Continuing Education
The Department for Continuing Education is based at Rewley House in Wellington Square.
In addition to supporting the various aspects of the course that involve online learning, the Department has facilities available to students during their attendance in Oxford. In particular, the Department has a Graduate Room - a study space dedicated to graduate students with lockers, printing facilities and refreshments. The Graduate Room is accessible from 8.00am to 10.00pm (24hrs for students using the Department’s overnight accommodation). The Continuing Education Library, also located at Rewley House, has quiet study space and a ‘Reading Room’.
Apply for this course
Please read our Terms and Conditions before submitting your application.
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.
You will also need to:
- Have a good working knowledge of email, internet, word processing and Windows applications (for communications with course members, course team and administration).
- Provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University (where applicable).
Ethical Concepts and Methods
An introduction to the key concepts and methods of contemporary ethics, providing you with a working knowledge of the basic concepts and...
Well-Being, Disability and Enhancement
Central philosophical accounts of well-being, disability and the development of enhanced human capacities, including a debate on whether such...
Philosophy, Psychiatry and Mental Health
An interdisciplinary course providing a three-way bridge between, respectively, conceptual challenges, advances in the cognitive sciences and...
An exploration of both the distinctive ethical questions raised by some of the developments in neuroscience, and the ways they might change our...
Ethics of the Beginning and End of Life
An introduction to basic questions and concepts in reproductive ethics and end of life decisions, as well as more general philosophical...
Research Ethics and Empirical Ethics
This course considers the range of ethical issues associated with the conduct of research on humans and animals, and empirical methods in...
Terms and conditions
Terms and conditions for applicants and students on this course
Sources of funding
Information on financial support