Practical Ethics - FAQ



What is the aim of the course?

The course offers strong grounding in contemporary practical ethics. It aims to provide professionals with tools and knowledge to think more deeply and critically about philosophical and ethical issues that arise in the course of their work and in other concrete contexts.

Who is this course for?

The course is for people who might want to pursue an academic career in practical ethics, and can serve as a bridge to doctoratal studies. It would also suit doctors, lawyers and other professionals, as well as non-professionals, who want to think more philosophically about ethical issues.

What is unique about this course?

The course focuses on concrete and interdisciplinary ethical issues while still emphasising philosophical rigour and depth. Although its focus is practical, students will also be exposed to deep philosophical questions about the value of life, the significance of death, and how we should deal with scientific and technological advances.

Why study this course?

You will be able to devote time to thinking through philosophical questions whilst continuing to work. The conversations you will have with students and the teachers will be invaluable and help you really engage with questions in a challenging, stimulating and exciting way. 

What skills will I develop on the course?

The course will provide a strong grounding in the concepts and methods of practical ethics, as well as providing skills that students can transfer to their professional life. Such skills include ethical analysis, developing and presenting rigorous arguments, and the ability to critically assess arguments made by others.

Why choose the University of Oxford to do this course?

Oxford is an internationally renowned centre of philosophy, and a leader in applied ethics. Students will be taught by active participants in contemporary debates in practical ethics and will be exposed to cutting-edge research in the area.

How many modules are there to complete the MSt in Practical Ethics?

To complete the course, you will need to take six modules and submit a dissertation. Apart from the Ethical Concepts and Methods module, which must be taken first, you can choose when to take the remaining modules and whether to complete the course over two or three years.

What are the English language requirements?

You will need a language certificate unless you qualify for an English waiver as described on the graduate admissions page.

How can a part-time course be of benefit to me?

The course is flexible and designed to be compatible with people who have ongoing careers and commitments. The modules take place at specific times in the year and students will be expected to attend short intensive study weeks, with further work done independently while away from Oxford.

Students will be able to communicate with tutors and connect with other students online whilst undertaking such independent work.

The course is also available as standalone modules which can be taken separately.

When are the residential weeks?

The dates for the residential weeks can be found on each of the module's webpage:

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

How can practical ethics help me in my professional career?

The masters will give you the tools to create better arguments on ethical questions and has the potential to enlighten and bring a whole new meaning to your professional career. Here are some examples of professionals in fields in Law, Chemistry and Medicine who have seen the benefit of studying philosophy; some have even steered their careers in a different direction.

Hannah Maslen on Law and Ethics:

Dominic Wilkinson on Medicine and Ethics:

Tom Douglas on Medicine and Ethics:

Doug McConnell on Chemistry and Ethics:

What is it like to study at the Uehiro Centre?

The Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics was created within Oxford's Philosophy Faculty in 2003. The centre does not seek to promote a particular philosophy or ethical view, it simply seeks to encourage debate between different approaches to ethics through dialogue and ideas.

Will I be affiliated to a college?

The MSt in Practical Ethics is a matriculated course, so you will become a member of a college as part of the admissions process and this will need to be one of the three colleges associated with this course (Kellogg, Pembroke and St Cross).

You will be able to meet scholars and students from a wide range of disciplines. This will be especially helpful given the nature of the course and its interdisciplinary topics.

Is accommodation included in the course fee?

Accommodation is not included in the course fee, but you may be able to book accommodation for the residential weeks at Rewley House or at your college.

What resources are available to students?

Most colleges have libraries in which you will be able to work and borrow books. You will also find resources at the Philosophy and Theology Faculty library or the Bodleian library. Many resources will also be available online.

Can you provide a visa letter for this course?

We normally issue a letter to support a Short-Term Student visa for students to attend the residential weeks. Further information about visas can be found in the short-term students section of the university website and the before you arrive section.

Do I need to provide an academic reference?

In terms of references, an academic reference is always preferred and will help the admissions panel best assess your application. We recommend that you try as much as you can to get an academic reference if at all possible, even if it was from a long time ago.

Having said that, the admissions panel does have the discretion to assess your application on your professional or other educational attainment rather than an undergraduate degree and can decide to accept three professional references.

Can I take another course alongside this course?

We generally discourage students from taking more than one course at a time, but it is ultimately at the admission panel’s discretion.