Keele offers three different postgraduate research degrees, in a small, friendly and research-intensive environment where everybody knows each other, and postgraduate students can talk to staff whenever they want. Facilities are good, the rural environment of Keele campus is highly conducive to concentration and focus, and the research of our staff is at the cutting-edge in some of the most fascinating areas of contemporary philosophy.
MPhil in philosophy
Duration: One year full-time, two years part-time.
Description: The M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy) degree is a research degree in which you write a dissertation (about 30-40,000 words / max. 60,000) about any topic you like, so long as one of our members of staff can supervise it (see "research interests" above). Once assigned a supervisor, you will work together with him or her, meeting up whenever you want to. When your dissertation is finished, you will have a viva examination, in which an external and internal examiner will read your work and discuss it with you. The MPhil. is often thought of as a mini-PhD.; it is a very prestigious degree which takes two years at many universities.
Phd in Philosophy
Duration: Three years full-time, six years part-time. (Students who need extra time are only required to pay a continuation fee.)
Description: The PhD. (Doctor of Philosophy) degree, which earns you the title Dr., is the highest academic degree. It is research only and requires you to write an original thesis (about 70-80,000 words) on a topic of your choice, so long as it is approved by one of our member of staff (see their research interests below). Candidates for the PhD. are expected to have completed a master’s degree beforehand (M.A., MRes., or MPhil.). Once assigned a supervisor, you will work with him or her, meeting up whenever you want to. When your thesis is finished, you will have a viva examination, in which an external and internal examiner will read your work and discuss it with you.
Philosophy's placement within SPIRE means that PhD candidates whose philosophical interests intertwine with issues in politics or international relations, can receive supervision for a thesis covering some or all of these academic areas; see also the Politics and International Relations PhD page.
The following staff are currently available to supervise research degrees:
Sophie primarily works in Metaphysics, the Philosophy of Science and the Philosophy of Mind, although she also has an on-going interest in the Philosophy of Language. In particular, she is interested in the connections between these different areas of philosophy and the meta-philosophical questions which arise when we try to decide between competing philosophical theories. She is the author of A Critical Introduction to Properties (Bloomsbury, 2016) and several papers, including on classification, modality, conceivability arguments, the metaphysics of properties, metametaphysics, and the indeterminacy of translation. She is happy to supervise graduate students in any of her areas of specialisation. Please get in touch for further information.
Sorin's research interests focus on topics in Kantian studies (all areas), Political Philosophy (particularly analytic debates on distributive justice and desert, as well as liberalism and neutrality), Metaethics (especially normativity) and the History of Philosophy (specific topics and authors in ancient philosophy, German idealism and phenomenology). A central research project for him is the examination of the epistemological, metaphysical and metaphilosophical presuppositions of positions in ethics and political philosophy. He is the author of one monograph, five edited collections and numerous papers and chapters. For a list of publications, see: https://www.visualcv.com/baiasu-publications/ For topics supervised/examined see: https://www.visualcv.com/sbaiasu-supervision/
Giuseppina (aka Josie) is a leading authority on the philosophy of R.G. Collingwood, and the author of Collingwood and the Metaphysics of Experience (Routledge 2002) among many other publications. Her main research interests at present are in the philosophy of action, particularly the history of the reasons/causes debate, the nature of the action event/distinction and the problem of mental causation. She is also interested in metaphilosophy, particularly the relation between philosophy and science, and in how second-order metaphilosophical positions affect our understanding of the relationship between the human and natural sciences. She can supervise in many other areas of philosophy, especially in areas relating to idealism. You can access some of her work on her page.
James is a leading authority on the philosophy of Richard Rorty, and the author of Rorty and the Mirror of Nature (Routledge 2007) among many other publications. His main research interests at present are in philosophy of mind, particularly in physicalism and consciousness, metaphilosophy, particularly in the relation between philosophy, science, and religion, and the problem of personal identity. He is able to supervise in many areas of philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, continental philosophy and the history of philosophy, and would also consider proposals in comparative philosophy (especially Western – Chinese) and some areas of the philosophy of technology.
Jonathan is a specialist in early modern philosophy, Kantian philosophy, and philosophy of religion. His recent publications include The Philosophy of Anne Conway (Bloomsbury 2020) and Schopenhauer and the Nature of Philosophy (Lexington 2021). He is currently working on various projects in early modern philosophy. He is interested in supervising theses in his areas of interest, as well as the history of philosophy more generally.
Keele library has excellent provision for philosophy. Most of the research activities of Keele Philosophy are organised under the auspices of the Keele Forum for Philosophical Research. The Forum arranges for leading philosophers from around the UK and abroad to present their ideas at Keele on a regular basis.
Events include the Forum Annual lecture, the Royal Institute of Philosophy Invited Lecture Series, and various other work in progress seminars, workshops and lecture series organised by RC-SPIRE. There is also a thriving student–led Philosophy Society that holds regular debates and film screenings. And all post-graduate students are part of the Research Institute for Social Sciences, thereby benefiting from facilities such as a dedicated research building.
Student research topics
Topics currently or recently researched at Keele at MRes., M.Phil. or PhD. level include:
- Kant's Critical Philosophy of Hope and Salvation
- Moral Motivation and Environmental Sustainability
- Liberty, Normativity and Originality
- Heidegger's interpretation of Nietzsche
- The Normative relevance of Phenomenology
- Collingwood’s Philosophy of History
- Davidson, Rorty, and the Problem of Mental Causation
- Panpsychism in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy of Mind
- Philosophical progress: its possibility and nature
- Kant's transendential idealism and laws of nature
We are always ready to supervise MPhils and PhDs relating to our main research strengths, which are: Kantian philosophy (all aspects); metaphilosophy; philosophy of mind and action; Collingwood; Rorty. We will also consider proposals within the areas of history of philosophy; political philosophy; environmental philosophy; metaphysics; moral philosophy, in particular normative ethics and metaethics. See the ‘Research Interests’ tab on this page for more details.
SPIRE is a thoroughly international school, and is particularly welcoming to international students, as well as providing plenty of opportunities for home students to broaden their horizons.
We have staff with educational backgrounds in a wide variety of countries, such as Columbia, Canada, Bulgaria, Italy, Austria, Romania, and Turkey, who present their research all around the world. Students have the opportunity to hear visiting lecturers from various different countries, arranged through our ERASMUS partnerships.
International students will join established international communities at Keele, and will find plenty of support mechanisms in place to help them make the transition to study in the UK (see the ‘International Applicants’ button above).