Course Requirements

Credits Required

All MA students are required to complete six graduate half-courses in philosophy. There is also a Summer Research Project requirement (detailed below).

Distribution Requirement
UPDATED for 2019-20

Students must take six courses, at least one in history of philosophy and at least one in each of two of  the following areas: 

Moral, political, legal, and social philosophy

Mind and Language

Philosophy of science, including logic and foundations of mathematics

Feminist Philosophy

Some courses may be designated as counting for more than one area; in that case students must elect for which it will count.


Course Completion Deadline

Students must complete all of their required coursework, with the exception of their Summer Research Project, by the end of Winter Term (April 30th).

Summer Research Project Requirement

Under the supervision of a faculty member who has standing in the Philosophy Department’s graduate program, students will produce a paper that will not exceed 10,000 words on a topic agreed upon in consultation with the Graduate Chair and the project supervisor. The project could, but need not, be based on a paper for a course that was taken and completed in one of the previous two terms. (The paper may not significantly overlap with work done or being done on any course that was taken but not completed in either of the previous two terms.) Toward the end of the second term, the graduate chair will meet with each student to discuss her or his ideas about the summer research project, and will help with arranging a supervisor (unless, as often happens, a student has on her or his own initiative already set up a project with a supervisor).

The paper must show substantive engagement with the topic and with the relevant literature, and must be submitted to the project supervisor and Graduate Program Assistant by the 15th of August. The project supervisor will assign a grade of pass or fail to the work, depending on its quality.

The summer research project appears as a “course” on each student’s academic record. Students are added to the “course” by the Graduate Affairs Assistant. Grades must be submitted by project supervisors to the Graduate Affairs Assistant before the end of August to ensure deadlines for MA students to graduate are met. 


The Department expects that MA students must achieve an overall average of at least 75% to maintain minimal good standing. If a student receives less than 70% in any course, the Graduate Affairs Committee reserves the right to withdraw the student from the program.

Reading Courses

The equivalent of a half-course may be taken as an independent study or reading course with approval of the Graduate Program Chair. The Graduate Chair must approve the Reading Course. Upon approval, the Graduate Affairs Assistant will then assign a course number and manually register you in the course.

Reading Course Registration Request Form (see Philosophy > Graduate > Resources & Forms)

External Courses

Students may receive credit towards their PhD program requirements of one half-course, or, in exceptional circumstances, up to two half-courses taken in disciplines other than philosophy, subject to approval by the Graduate Program Chair.

Outside Home Program Course Enrolment Form (see SGPS > Forms)

Selecting Courses

You will be required to consult with the Graduate Chair on your course selections. Typically, a sign-up sheet for meeting times to have courses approved is posted in September. However, the Graduate Program will advise as to the current year’s arrangements for this via email at the start of the academic year.  

Adding/Dropping Courses

Once your course selections have been approved, you must add your courses online via Student CenterClick here to be taken to Western's Office of the Registrar's step by step guide to online course registration. 

Last day to add: One month from the official beginning of the term in which the course begins
Last day to drop: Two months from the beginning of the term in which the course begins
Related Links:
Philosophy > Graduate > Courses