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Frequently asked questions

What does the MPhil-programme in Philosophy & Ethics of Mental Health offer?

The programme provides a learning opportunity about the two-way connections between mental health practice and philosophy. Graduates of this programme who come from mental health practice will be equipped with philosophical skills and knowledge that bring more clarity, understanding and decision-making ability in mental health practice. Graduates of this programme who come from philosophy will gain more insight into areas of philosophy that are relevant to and enriched by the real life experiences of mental health care users and practitioners.

For whom is the programme designed?

The programme is intended for people who want to advance their previous education that was in a field relevant to mental health or in philosophy. They may have already obtained a master’s degree, and may for example be a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker, occupational therapist, music therapist or a philosopher. The minimum admission requirement is an honours bachelor’s degree or equivalent in a field of relevance to either mental health or philosophy (e.g. MBChB, BPsych, BA(Hons), LLB, BCur, BOccT).

Being flexible, the aim is to build on the knowledge, skills, experiences and interests that an individual brings to the programme.

How is the programme structured?

The programme consists of a taught and a research component that may be taken one year full time or 2 years part time. The taught component consists of 4 modules. For each module, a seminar/discussion group or an assignment will introduce the subject material of each module. In addition, an essay will be required on a topic from each module. It should be between 5 000 and 6 000 words each and these 4 essays will constitute the first 4 sections of a dissertation. The 5th section of the dissertation should be about 10 000 words in length. The respective sections are assessed individually. Students will be encouraged to present at conferences and submit their work for publication. Students may join the programme any time in the year.

What is the syllabus? (follow link for 
more details)

The four modules explore a lively range of topics that are both highly relevant to current mental health practice and being actively debated and researched by philosophers. Case studies are thus used amply. 

Module 1: Shared Interests of philosophy & mental health

This module introduces philosophical knowledge and methods in the application to the core concepts used in mental health practice. It does so through the examination of case studies in mental health practice and the examination of the concept of mental disorder/illness. It draws on philosophical contributions from both analytical and existential-phenomenological traditions.

Module 2: Ethics, values & mental health

This module examines various approaches of philosophical ethics to mental health practice and mental health research including the approaches of bio-ethics, values-based practice, casuistry, perspectivism, and conceptual analysis. As related to mental health practice and research, it addresses issues such as capacity, consent, responsibility, personal autonomy, freedom, conflict of values, confidentiality, abuse, mental health legislation, jurisprudence, and professional ethics.

Module 3: Philosophy of science & mental health

This module examines the nature and role of science and of scientific methodology in mental health practice and research. It covers the main aspects of the clinical process (symptomatology, diagnosis, classification, aetiology, treatment and prognosis), research and the organisation of mental health services.

Module 4: Philosophy of mind & mental health

This module examines the themes shared by mental health practice and the philosophy of mind such as the mind-body problem, subjectivity, rationality, personal identity, intentionality, agency, language & linguistics, meaning, ascription of responsibility, the relations between reasons and causes.

What are the main sources of reference?

 In addition to any relevant material published in mental health or in philosophy, the programme will draw mainly on the Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (Oxford University Press, 2006) Notwithstanding, being a master’s degree programme, it will also draw on the unique, contextually and locally relevant contribution that a student brings to the programme.

What will become of students’ research work?

Successful students may pursue doctorate research in the field, and/or the publication of their work in national and international journals. Students will be guided and encouraged accordingly. 

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