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Philosophy Research MPhil/PhD, option of joint PhD with NUS or Humboldt

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The Philosophy Department at King’s is one of the largest research departments in the field in the UK. We offer close personal supervision to students in a wide variety of research areas, with particular strengths in the history of philosophy (analytic and continental, Greek and Roman, Medieval, Early Modern, 18th, 19th, and 20th century); philosophy of mind, action and psychology; epistemology; metaphysics; philosophy of science, especially philosophy of physics and philosophy of medicine; ethics; political philosophy; philosophy of art; logic; and philosophy of language and logic.

For more information on our areas of expertise and potential supervisors, our recent research projects and their impact and a list of recent publications by our research staff visit our department web pages. 

  • Recent Research Projects:  recent projects include:

-          The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps

-          Philosophy and Medicine

-          Thinking with Assent: Renewing a Traditional Account of Knowledge and Belief

-          Ancient Commentators on Aristotle;

-          The Evolution of the Emotions;

-          Perception, Narrative Discourse and Conceptual Art;

-          The Boundaries of Illness;

-          Word Meaning: What it is and what it is not?;

  • Most recent REF rankings:  the department was ranked 3rd in the UK, and 1st in London, for both quality and power according to the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) rankings;  80% of research was valued as being of a world-leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) standard and 63% of its research scored the top rating for impact with an outstanding reach and significance.
  • Current number of research staff: 30.
  • Current number of research students: 60.


Key information

Duration PhD two-three years FT, four-six years PT.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London/King's and NUS/Humboldt for joint programme

Faculty Faculty of Arts & Humanities

Department Department of Philosophy



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Course detail


The Philosophy department offers close personal supervision to students in a wide variety of research areas. As a large and highly-integrated department we can support research projects spanning the various sub-fields of philosophy. Philosophy postgraduates are normally supervised within the Philosophy department. Students wishing to work with someone at King's who is not a member of the Philosophy department are urged to apply directly to the relevant department for admission as a graduate student.

The PhD programme is exclusively devoted to research in philosophy. The programme lasts a minimum of three years full time study. During this time students meet with their supervisors on a regular basis to work on their thesis. During the first year, students are registered as MPhil students. You will have the opportunity to develop your research ideas and writing skills. Towards the end of the first students submit a thesis plan and an extended work sample for assessment before being upgraded to full PhD registration.

At the end of their studies students submit a PhD thesis of a maximum length of 100,000 words. The thesis is examined by two examiners, one external, non-London based, one internal, London based, in a viva.


King’s is set in the heart of London. Graduate students have the opportunity to attend meetings of the Aristotelian Society, and events organised by the Institute of Philosophy.

The department runs joint PhD programmes with the National University of Singapore and the Humboldt University in Berlin (more information below).

The department also has links with other departments around the world. The Norman Malcolm Fellowship pays for a King's research student to spend a semester at Cornell every second year, and for a Cornell student to come to King's in the intervening years. There is an annual KCL/Berlin graduate workshop, hosted alternate years in KCL and in Berlin. And there is a regular KCL/UNC Chapel Hill graduate workshop, hosted in KCL or in Chapel Hill.

Joint PhD programme

The Department of Philosophy at King's is delighted to be able to offer research students two exciting options for joint-PhD study. The programmes offered provide candidates with the opportunity to divide their PhD study between two prestigious universities, enjoying full supervision at both. The programme builds on an extensive network of existing institutional links, joint teaching experience and collaborative graduate programmes between King’s and the partners universities.

The Department of Philosophy at the Humboldt University has strengths in the following research areas: Classical German Philosophy, especially Kant, Early Modern Philosophy, especially Leibniz and Locke, Philosophy of Mind (Berlin School of Mind and Brain), Ancient Philosophy (Graduate School of Ancient Philosophy) and Analytic Metaphysics. These areas complement the research in King’s in the history of philosophy, in ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, philosophy of mind and metaphysics. We encourage applications from students who intend to write a PhD in one of these areas. The joint PhD offers the opportunity to do some graduate work in German. Hence, it should be of interest to PhD students who want to work on a German speaking philosopher.

The Department of Philosophy at the National University of Singapore is a thriving community with 16 full-time tenured or tenure track faculty members. In addition, there are more than thirty graduate students pursuing the PhD and Masters in philosophy. Its faculty members engage in research in a wide range of fields, including Moral and Practical philosophy, Continental European, Buddhist, Indian, Chinese and Comparative Philosophy. It thus offers a range of study options for potential PhD students that complement well King's own research strengths in, for example, ancient philosophy, modern philosophy, philosophy of mind and metaphysics. Students would spend a significant portion of their time in Singapore, thereby enabling them to access expertise in fields of philosophy where King's alone would not be able to offer supervision.

FAQs about joint PhDs can be found on the King's Worldwide web pages.

Course study environment

You will see your supervisor regularly for supervisions. In addition, first year research students attend the weekly First Year Research Seminar, and all other research students attend the weekly Advanced Research Seminar. These seminars are opportunities for research students to present their work, receive feedback on it, and gain exposure to a wider range of philosophical topics via discussion of the work of their peers. First year students also attend a weekly MPhil Research Seminar, where research staff present their work-in-progress or critical assessment of work by others in their areas of expertise.

The Philosophy department is broad and inclusive. Our wide range of research expertise is set within a collegiate and cooperative research community. Postgraduate students will usually receive supervisions from more than one member of staff, and benefit from a range of perspectives and expertise on their project.

The department also runs regular reading groups, and students are welcome to set up their own. Recent reading groups have included: Gender and Philosophy; Political Philosophy; Early Modern Philosophy; Mind; Metaphysics; Philosophy of Action.

Research students are encouraged to attend the regular research activities of the department’s research clusters, such as the King’s History of Philosophy Seminar, and the Formal Methods Masterclass.

The department has a computer room and a graduate common room.

Postgraduate training

Students in the department can take advantage of induction and training programmes offered by the Faculty Graduate Programme. The progress of all graduate students is overseen by the Department's Postgraduate and Research Committee.

Research students gain training at presenting their work to their peers through the weekly research seminars and are encouraged to attend conferences (small travel bursaries are available to support this).

The Department's Placement Officer provides training for advanced research students in preparing them for the academic job market. This includes training in publishing your work and applying for funding.

There is also the opportunity to undertake paid teaching work. This comes with many opportunities for training, including support and guidance in gaining recognition from the Higher Education Academy.

Head of group/division

Professor Maria Alvarez

Contact: philosophy@kcl.ac.uk

Contact for information

Postgraduate Admissions, Admissions Office tel: +44 (0) 20 7848 1659 fax: +44 (0) 20 7848 7200

Department of Philosophy: philosophy@kcl.ac.uk

Contact email


Course website


Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Philosophy Research Entry Requirements
Minimum UK requirements (MPhil/PhD)  
  • Master's degree in Philosophy with Distinction (or equivalent) is normally expected but particularly strong candidates with a Merit classification are also eligible.

International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band C Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.

Personal statement and supporting information

Applicants are encouraged to approach potential supervisors prior to application. To identify a supervisor please see: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

Philosophy Research checklist
Personal Statement  Yes

A personal statement is required. This can be entered directly into the online application form (maximum 4,000 characters) or uploaded as an attachment to the online application form (maximum 2 pages). You can use this to describe your philosophical interests, explain why you wish to study at King's in particular, and add any additional information that you feel might support your application

Research Proposal Yes

The proposal should explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it. For advice on how to write a winning application, please visit the following page.

We recognise that this will be provisional at this stage - indeed, we expect your project to develop as you study at King's - but nevertheless we request that you give some indication of your proposed research questions, how they are situated in the existing literature, and so on. You are welcome to approach a member of our academic staff to discuss this in advance of submitting your application if you wish, but you are not required to do so.

Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Writing Sample Yes One or more pieces of written work totaling around 3,000 words. Ideally, it should be a philosophical essay; try to choose something that demonstrates that you have an aptitude for philosophical study, such as an ability to handle abstract concepts, construct and evaluate an argument, and so on.
Travel Plan Yes (joint programme only) If applying for the joint programme, please include the names of your supervisors from both institutions and include a completed travel plan form.
Other Optional You may also wish to include a CV (Resume) or evidence of professional registration as part of your application.


Course intake

MPhilStud 6FT, 1PT; PHD 8FT, 1PT

Joint PhDs - Application advice

Applicants for the Joint PhD programme must contact the relevant departments at both universities before submitting an application in order to discuss the suitability of their topic for the joint programme and to locate potential supervisors. Applications should initially be submitted to the proposed home institution only, ie where the student will start and finish their programme. Students should note that acceptance onto the programme may take slightly longer than for single-institution PhDs because of the additional steps involved. Further details, including FAQs, can be found on the King's Worldwide web pages.

Applicants who choose King’s as their home institution should apply through the online system, selecting the appropriate Joint PhD option from the drop-down list. In addition to the standard supporting documentation, applicants should submit a Travel Plan form indicating how they intend to divide their time between the two partner institutions. Students must spend a specified amount of time in each institution, details of which can be found in the ‘Notes’ section of the Travel plan form.

It is recommended that students submit applications for the Joint PhD programme by the end of March to begin the following September.

Application closing date

The deadlines for applications are detailed below. Please note that funding applications deadlines may be earlier. We will open applications for the corresponding intake in 2021 after the final deadline passes in 2020.

  • October 2020 entry – 31st July 2020 for International students and 28th August 2020 for Home/EU students
  • Feb 2021 entry – 23rd October 2020 for International students and 23rd November 2020 for Home/EU students
  • June 2021 entry – 12th April 2021 for International and Home/EU students

Applications for 2021/22 academic year will open from October 2020.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

Preparation courses

Fees and funding

UK/EU Tuition Fees 2019/20

Full time tuition fees:

£5,300 per year  (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

 £5,300 per year  (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with National University of Singapore or Humboldt University)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,650 per year(MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£2,650 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with Humboldt University)

International Tuition Fees 2019/20

Full time tuition fees:

£19,850 per year  (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£19,850 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with Humboldt University)

Part time tuition fees:

£9,950 per year  (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£9,950 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with Humboldt University)

UK/EU Tuition Fees 2020/21

Full time tuition fees:

£5,550 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£5,550 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with National University of Singapore or Humboldt University)

Part time tuition fees:

£2,780 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£2,780 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with Humboldt University)

International Tuition Fees 2020/21

Full time tuition fees:

£20,820 per year  (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£20,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with National University of Singapore or Humboldt University)

Part time tuition fees:

£10,410 per year (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research)

£10,410 per yea (MPhil/PhD, Philosophy Research with Humboldt University)

 Students starting their programme in 2019/20 who are eligible to pay EU fees will pay the same rate of tuition fees as UK students. This will apply for the duration of their programme, but may be subject to change by the UK Government for subsequent cohorts from 2020/21.

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King’s terms and conditions.

Departmental and Other Funding

The London Arts and Humanities Partnership has up to 90 studentships per year available for postgraduate research students studying arts and humanities disciplines at King’s College London, London School of Economics and Political Science, Queen Mary University of London, Royal Central School of Speech and Drama, Royal College of Art, Royal College of Music, School of Advanced Study or University College London. For more information, including how to apply, see LAHP.  

The department also offers a number of postgraduate bursaries available to current students.

Normal Malcolm Fellowship: This fellowship honours Professor Norman Malcolm's close association with the Philosophy Departments at both Cornell University and King's. It pays for a King's research student to spend a semester at Cornell every second year, and for a Cornell student to come to King's in the intervening years.

Sorabji Graduate Bursary: This studentship honours Richard Sorabji, Emeritus Professor of Ancient Philosophy in the Department. Each year the Department awards one or more studentships to graduate students in the Department, taking into account academic merit and financial need.

Susan Stebbing Studentship: This studentship honours Susan Stebbing, who was formerly Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Bedford College London (which merged with KCL in 1984). Each year the Department awards one or more studentships to women graduate students in the Department, taking into account academic merit and financial need.

Peter Goldie Award: This studentship honours Peter Goldie, former Reader in Philosophy in the Department, who sadly passed away in 2011. This studentship commemorates Peter and his contribution to the Department, following a generous bequest from his estate. Each year the Department awards one or more studentships to graduate students in the Department, taking into account academic merit and financial need. 


Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


Blue box with King's College London rankings. Starting with, 7th in the UK for research quality. Followed by, 6th in the UK for research power. Concluding with, 4th among multi-faculty universities for research Impact. The source is research excellence framework 2014

Next steps

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