Learn to apply philosophical thinking to real social issues and questions.

In this online philosophy course, you’ll learn how to put philosophy into practice, whatever your career or area of interest.

You’ll find out how philosophical methods can help us to navigate our information-rich world, become better informed, and more open minded.

Guided by academics and researchers in philosophy and applied philosophy, you’ll:

  • examine current debates and research in philosophy relating to real-world issues
  • develop your skills in philosophical reasoning, research, writing, and presentation
  • explore the exciting research work being done in contemporary applied philosophy
  • develop and apply your own philosophical skills to issues that you have experienced and care about.

Who can join this online philosophy course?

This distance-learning course is ideal for anyone interested in philosophical thinking about some of today’s most pressing social and political topics.

You do not need to have a background in philosophy to join us for this course.

Build credits towards a Masters degree

This online course is part of:

You can use the credits you earn on this short course towards this Masters qualification.

What you’ll study

In this course, you’ll explore contemporary philosophical research relating to a selection of real-world problems.

You’ll examine current debates and research in philosophy relating to topics including:

  • AI and data: the benefits and the concerns
  • AI, responsibility and retribution
  • Sex and gender equality in sports
  • Epistemic justice.

As this course addresses contemporary issues in society, the topics covered will change year-on-year depending on current real-world events and the latest developments in philosophical research.

Topics covered in previous runs of this course include:

  • knowledge and the internet
  • the value of truth and the ethics of lying
  • issues in bioethics and public health ethics
  • decolonising the curriculum
  • climate change and environmental issues, and
  • epistemic constraints on voting.

You’ll also develop your research, writing, and presentation skills in philosophy throughout the course.

Content advice

The content and discussion in this course may cover themes that some students may find upsetting. Teaching staff are experienced in delivering this material and are sensitive to the challenges of delivering such material to a diverse audience.

We are an inclusive university that takes the pastoral care of our students seriously. The classroom will be made a space to engage sensitively and empathetically with this content. Confidential and impartial support is also available from the Student Advice and Support Office.

By the end of this course, you’ll be able to...

  • Apply philosophical understanding and skills to social questions and problems.
  • Discuss philosophical concepts, arguments, theory and methods as they apply in key social settings like healthcare, business, or education.
  • Evaluate how well current ways of thinking in philosophy serve to address practical issues.
  • Clearly communicate philosophical findings.

Choose the University of Aberdeen for online philosophy courses

1st in the UK

1st in the UK for Philosophy

Our Philosophy department is ranked 1st in the UK for positive responses in the 2023 National Student Survey. See our NSS results.

Founded in 1495

Join a university where Philosophy has been taught for more than five centuries.

20% alumni discount

University of Aberdeen alumni get 20% off this online course.

How you’ll study

Online learning

This distance learning philosophy course is delivered flexibly, 100% online.

You can learn with us anywhere in the world, no student visa required, and manage your study hours to suit you.

Your teaching

This course is taught at Masters level.

Teaching is delivered through MyAberdeen, our online Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It holds all the materials, tools and support you’ll need in your studies. Take a look around MyAberdeen.

You can access your learning materials on computer, smartphone and laptop, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a range of resources available, including:

  • video lectures
  • live online tutorials
  • guided independent study activities
  • reading materials
  • discussion boards with your tutors and peers
  • online support from the course coordinator
  • the online resources of our award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library.

You’ll receive regular feedback in class and on your submitted work. Guidance and feedback will always be mindful of your background knowledge in philosophy and will be clearly linked to final assessment and course learning outcomes.

Live online tutorials

Each week, your course coordinator will host a one-hour live online tutorial. In these sessions, they’ll offer support, advice, feedback, and address any questions you might have.

Your tutors

This course is delivered by the School of Divinity, History, Philosophy and Art History.

You’ll learn from a highly experienced team of Philosophy lecturers who are also active researchers in the areas in which they teach.

Find out more about our Philosophy department.

You’ll be assessed online via:

  • your discussion board contributions (worth 20% of your final course grade)
  • a presentation or written assessment (30%), and
  • a final essay on a course topic of your choice (50%).

Live online sessions

This course features one live online session each week. Each session is scheduled to last for around one hour.

Dates and times will be organised flexibly at the start of the course. Your course coordinator will consider everyone’s circumstances and time zones before setting up live session times.

Study hours

This course totals approximately 300 hours of study and assessment time.

That’s around 15 – 20 hours per week in regular topic work, with more time required around assessments.

This is an indicative guide to the time required for a typical student at this level to achieve the learning outcomes. This includes time for independent study, as well as teaching and assessments.

You can largely set your own study hours to cover the materials. MyAberdeen is available 24/7, so you can log in and study when it suits you.

Activities at fixed times

You’ll have live online sessions at fixed times, and assessments with deadlines. But otherwise, you can access and work through your course at your convenience.

Our first-class support structure will ensure that you aren’t alone in your studies. You’ll have contact with your tutors via MyAberdeen. You can use social media and discussion boards to chat with your fellow students too.

We provide a wide range of services to support you in your studies and beyond:

Wherever you are in the world, you’ll feel part of our very special Aberdeen learning community.

Your teaching team

Professor Jesper Kallestrup

Jesper is Chair in Philosophy at the University of Aberdeen, and your course coordinator. He is a leading researcher in epistemology and philosophy of mind, with a special interest in social issues like testimony and trust in public life, group knowledge, and knowledge and technology.

View Jesper’s profile

Professor Vikki Entwistle

Vikki is an interdisciplinary scholar who combines philosophy with social research to understand and address concerns about values and ethics, especially in healthcare and deathcare contexts.

View Vikki’s profile

Dr Gerry Hough

Gerry is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy. He has received multiple awards for his teaching, including the University Lecturer of the Year. Gerry currently teaches on topics in Philosophy of Language and the History of Philosophy.

View Gerry’s profile

Dr Paula Sweeney

Paula is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, with a background in the Philosophy of Language and the Philosophy of Logic. Now Paula works in the Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, and is particularly interested in social robots.

View Paula’s profile

Dr Fed Luzzi

Fed is a Senior Lecturer in our Philosophy department who enjoys bringing philosophy to wider audiences. Much of his research has focused on whether knowledge can arise from non-knowledge. Fed also has a particular interest in epistemic injustice, gender equality in sports, and ambition.

View Fed’s profile

Where this will take you

Towards a Masters degree

You’ll earn 15 credits at Masters level (SCQF Level 11) with this distance-learning course. You can use these credits towards our online:

Masters in Philosophy and Society

Join a unique Masters degree that focuses on applying and practising philosophy outside academia. Also available at PgDip and PgCert level.

View MLitt Philosophy and Society


This course is valuable learning for anyone currently working or seeking to work in an area that raises ethical or philosophical issues.

It’s particularly well suited to people working in public office, the public sector, charities, NGOs and civil society roles.

In-demand skills

In completing this Masters-level course, you’ll develop skills that are valuable to a range of careers, including:

  • philosophical thinking and reasoning
  • philosophical analysis
  • argumentation
  • communication.

Continuing professional development (CPD)

Your employer or professional institute may recognise this course for CPD hours. Talk to your employer or institute to find out more.

Free career support

Access our free careers service while you study.

  • 1:1 appointments
  • CV checks
  • Interview prep
  • Job opportunities

See how our careers service can help you.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

We welcome students from all over the world.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You do not need to provide proof of your qualifications.

But you do need to check the entry guidance above to understand the level of teaching delivered, to decide if this course is right for you.

If you do not have qualifications from the UK, check the equivalent teaching level for your country.

Visa requirements

You do not need a student visa to study online with us.

English language requirements

Teaching is delivered in English.

You do not have to provide proof of your English language skills to join this course. But we want to make sure that you can use English well enough to study successfully.

Recommended level of English

This course uses our Postgraduate Higher level of English language proficiency.

These are our Postgraduate Higher requirements, and these are minimum scores.

IELTS Academic, IELTS UKVI Academic, and IELTS Online (not IELTS Indicator or IELTS General Training)

  • 6.5 overall
  • 5.5 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

TOEFL iBT and TOEFL iBT Home Edition

  • 90 overall
  • 17 for listening
  • 21 for reading
  • 20 for speaking
  • 21 for writing
  • TOEFL DI code is 0818

Cambridge English: B2 First, C1 Advanced, or C2 Proficiency

  • 176 overall
  • 162 for listening and speaking
  • 169 for reading and writing

LanguageCert Academic/LanguageCert Academic SELT

  • 70 overall
  • 60 for listening and speaking
  • 65 for reading and writing

LanguageCert International ESOL B2 Communicator (Written and Spoken) – Online / In-centre

  • Overall High Pass
  • 33 for listening, reading and speaking
  • 38 for writing

Oxford ELLT Digital – English Language Level Test Online

  • 7.0 overall
  • 5.0 for listening and speaking
  • 6.0 for reading and writing

PTE Academic (online test not accepted)

  • 62 overall
  • 59 for listening, reading, speaking and writing

For more information about language qualifications see our English Language Requirements page.

You will need access to:

A computer (PC, laptop or Mac) operating on either:

  • Windows 10 or later
  • macOS 10.15 (Catalina) or later.

Most teaching materials are smartphone- and tablet-friendly. But we recommend a proper laptop or desktop for completing assignments comfortably.

Reliable internet access

We recommend:

  • a wired connection
  • a minimum download speed of 2 Mbps so you can take part fully in live sessions.

Speakers or headphones

  • We recommend a headset with built-in microphone and earphones if you’re likely to study in an environment with background noise.
  • A webcam is optional, but you may like to use one for some interactive sessions.


We’ll give you access to Office365 applications. This means you can use online versions of Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint and install these programs on up to five personal devices.

If your course requires specialist software, we’ll provide you with access to this and a licence that lasts throughout your studies.

See our detailed IT requirements for more information.

When you study with us, you can expect a first-class support structure so that you’re never alone in your studies.

But learning online does mean you have to motivate yourself and manage your own time.

Your most important commitment will be time – the time to work through, reflect on and understand your teaching materials.

Before you start a course that involves a high degree of independent study, we recommend looking at the time you will be able to devote to your studies each week:

  • Be realistic
  • Create a weekly schedule as a guide

If you have any questions about studying online, get in touch with our friendly team. We’re here to help.

Fee payment

Your course fee needs to be paid in full before you start your course.

We accept payment via Visa Debit, Visa Credit and Mastercard.

Ways to save

You may be able to get help funding this course via:

  • discounts – if any discounts are available for this course, they’ll appear in the section below
  • employer sponsorship – we accept full and partial fee payments from sponsors.

Find out more about funding options.

Student card

All our students are entitled to a University of Aberdeen student card. This gives you access to a range of student discounts around the city and online.

Learning resources

Access to all the books and resources you need are included in your tuition fee. They’ll be made available to you online and you do not have to buy your own copies.


You may wish to set aside a small budget for printing, depending on how you like to work.

This course has no formal entry requirements. You decide if it’s suitable for you.

The course is delivered at Masters level. At this level, you’d usually have at least:

  • a 2:2 UK undergraduate degree (or equivalent), or
  • relevant experience that supports this level of study.

Apply for this course

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