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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Research degrees

Dr Peter Vickers
Director of Postgraduate Research

The Department of Philosophy has a large and thriving community of postgraduate researchers. We have expertise in an exceptionally broad range of areas, from phenomenology to feminism and from metaphysics to the philosophy of economics. We are, moreover, home to the Centre for Humanities Engaging Science and Society (CHESS). Our postgraduate students take part in a wide range of activities, including reading groups, research seminars and meetings of Eidos, our highly active postgraduate philosophy society. Every year, we host numerous events, including workshops, major conferences and talks by leading figures such as Noam Chomsky, Kit Fine and Peter Singer. There is a constant stream of visitors to the Department, and a vibrant atmosphere for teaching and research. Our departmental staff list, research cluster pages and list of current students will give you an idea of topics and potential supervisors.

The department provides its research students with comprehensive training, designed to support their research and professional development, which is integrated into its broader research environment. Students are assigned to a research cluster and co-supervised by at least two staff members. This environment ensures that our PhD graduates are well placed for academic employment, and our placement record is correspondingly strong, with many of our PhD students going on to lectureships and postdoctoral fellowships in the UK and abroad. Former PhD students have taken up posts at a number of prestigious institutions, including the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of London, MIT, Harvard University, Caltech, Emory University, Cornell University, the University of Notre Dame, Rhodes University (South Africa), University of Canterbury (New Zealand) and Trinity College, Dublin.


“What I liked most about my PhD at Durham was the community spirit, both in and out of the philosophy department. There would always be other students and staff to hang around with, and I thought it struck a perfect balance between serious philosophy-talk and more informal socialising. The range of talks and departmental events were a big help for me, both professionally and socially. Having such open lines of communication meant that I had extensive conversations with Peter Vickers and Robin Hendry, which resulted in me becoming interested in philosophy of science. This was an area I previously knew nothing about, but which my PhD ended up being on. I also found it easy to work closely with students and staff in the psychology department, which is an opportunity that you wouldn’t find in most universities.”

Dr Henry Taylor, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Cambridge University. PhD Durham 2015

Entry requirements

• A good MA in Philosophy or suitably related discipline

We welcome applications from holders of international qualifications. For advice on the equivalency of international qualifications, please contact our International Office on or visit our website.

We welcome applications from overseas students. Because instruction is in English, you will need to be proficient in written and spoken English. From a Departmental perspective we look for our applicants to have achieved an overall band score of at least 7.0 in the IELTS test (with no element below 6.5) or another acceptable English Language Proficiency Test. Further details can be found here.

Our General Departmental Level English Language Proficiency data can be accessed here. In all cases the relevant certificate should have been issued within two years of the programme start date.


We will be pleased to discuss your application. Please contact:

DegreeTimescaleMaximum thesis length
MA 1 yr FT / 2 yrs PT 50,000 words (suggested target length of 35,000)
PhD 3 yrs FT / 6 yrs PT 100,000 words