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Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

MA in Ethics

MA in Ethics

  • PAC CodeDC688
  • Course Type Postgraduate
  • NFQ Level 9
  • Delivery Modes Part-time
  • Duration 2 Years

Since 2010, DCU’s renowned MA in Ethics has attracted people from various graduate and occupational backgrounds including education, journalism, social work, business, the charity sector, healthcare and law. No philosophy or ethics background is required to apply for this course.  While pursuing your MA in Ethics at DCU, you’ll confront and evaluate a range of important contemporary ethical challenges in society. The course modules focus on both general and applied ethics, and the programme draws on diverse expertise from the areas of ethics, philosophy, theology and humanities.

The degree attracts individuals looking to develop analytical and decision-making skills so that they can apply ethical perspectives and principles to real-life and professional dilemmas. 

After graduation you can join our MA in Ethics Alumni and be part of a network of expertise and support in the field of ethics.

Graduate View


"I thoroughly enjoyed the MA in Ethics programme. It provided an excellent foundation in ethical theory, and offered a range of modules which allowed students to pursue their individual interests. Difficult ethical issues were considered from a number of perspectives, and students were given the tools to defend their own position in a reasoned and logical manner, while gaining insights into opposing perspectives…We had many fascinating, and sometimes heated, debates. I was particularly impressed by the quality of teaching on the programme; lecturers were not only expert in their fields, but adept at illuminating difficult concepts for students from extremely diverse academic backgrounds."  Sarah Mahon, MA in Ethics Graduate

“I found the MA in Ethics to be a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience. It provides a sound basis in ethical theory and the individual modules allowed me to view a range of issues from new perspectives. By interacting with my fellow students and well-informed lecturers, I found myself questioning my own opinions and opening my mind to alternative viewpoints and approaches. This has helped me to tackle work-related issues in a more open and comprehensive manner, and to gain a greater understanding of some of the challenges that we face as individuals and as a community.” Mark Farrell, MA in Ethics Graduate 

“I wished to return to the world of academia after a break of over twenty years. I opted for the MA in Ethics as it offered a combination of theoretical and practical approaches to the study of ethics. Ethics is a fascinating subject and ethical reflection has become an important part of everyday life. The course offers the opportunity to study the principles and theories of ethics and their application in both professional and public life. I thoroughly enjoyed the course. It is rigorous, challenging and engaging. The standard of lecturing is exceptionally high and the interaction with like-minded peers was an important part of the learning process.” Anna O’Dwyer, MA in Ethics Graduate

The MA in Ethics far exceeded my expectations in terms of course content, challenge, enjoyment, delivery and subsequent benefits. It was a journey shared with an eclectic cohort of fellow students and a committed, professional and engaging group of lecturers. The diversity of choice of subject modules, deepened understanding of relevant current issues, critically examined via classical and contemporary philosophical theories. It is a unique MA insofar as it informs and enhances critically thinking, challenges preconceived opinions, develops confidence and competency in validating ethical positions, and uniquely compliments other professional and technical qualifications. I could happily engage with the MA in Ethics again, in the knowledge that it would continue to challenge, intrigue and reward me." Rownan Eugene, MA in Ethics Graduate

"In my circumstances the MA in Ethics programme offered the opportunity to supplement work experience with a valuable exercise in scholarship. The syllabus provides a challenging introduction to ethical values, reasoning and decision-making with particular focus on essential foundational theories and their application in various present day contexts. The programme will demand an evaluation of one’s ethical views while offering a wide array of new ideas, perspectives and thinking. Fellow students from journalism/media, bio/medical, business/commercial, environmental, educational and law brought an energetic mix of life and work experience to class, prompting lively, frequently impromptu, discussions. The timetable was convenient, the workload manageable and the lecturers were superb."  Eddie Hughes, MA in Ethics Graduate


Why Do This Programme?

  • Gain an understanding of a broad range of ethical theories and principles at the forefront of general and applied ethics.
  • Acquire a critical awareness of contemporary public and professional ethical issues, together with new ethical insights, developed and informed by a variety of philosophical, theological, human rights, and intercultural perspectives.
  • Learn how to analyse specific ethical issues, challenges and dilemmas arising from contemporary work, professional activity and public life.

Programme Structure and Content

You’ll undertake the course part-time over two years, completing six taught modules, all of which are core:

  • Introduction to Ethics 
  • Readings in Ethics
  • Human Rights & Social Justice 
  • Business Ethics Or Contemporary Topics in Ethics 
  • Global Bioethics
  • Comparative Religious Ethics

Module Descriptions 2017-2018

You’ll also complete a minor thesis on an ethical issue or question either of a general public concern or of professional relevance.

Lectures take place Tuesday evenings and on two Saturdays (in the first year).

Programme Aims and Objectives

The MA in Ethics was established in 2010 in light of an ongoing demand for expertise in ethical analysis and decision-making, and aims to "add value" to continuing professional development. The programme’s underpinning philosophy is that ethical issues are best examined through a wide spectrum of ethical theories and by developing an active and creative interaction between theory and practice. You’ll receive a grounding in the foundations of ethics, human rights and social justice. You’ll also develop the necessary ethical analysis and decision-making skills to apply ethical perspectives and principles to real-life and professional dilemmas.

View the current course structure →


Why Choose DCU?

DCU’s MA in Ethics is designed to help you contribute to an ethically sustainable society by enhancing your knowledge-base in ethics, as well as building your skill set in ethical reasoning and decision-making. DCU’s excellence is recognised internationally and it is regularly featured among the top young universities globally, as measured by the Times Higher Education Top 100 under 50 and the QS Top 50 under 50. In the last nine years, DCU has twice been named Sunday Times ‘University of the Year’.


Programme Chairperson : Dr Alan Kearns

Tel: +353 (0) 1 700 7055





The MA in Ethics will be of particular relevance to you if you participate in ethics committees and activities relating to corporate social responsibility/citizenship, regulations or human rights. At the same time, other graduates without professional experience will benefit from the knowledge provided in this course and develop important ethical decision-making skills.

Potential Careers

  • Education
  • Management
  • Health Care
  • Medical Practice
  • Chaplaincy
  • Business
  • Finance
  • Banking
  • Law
  • Human Resources
  • Social Work
  • Other Care Services


General Entry Requirements

Applicants will normally have an honours primary degree or equivalent (2.2) but appropriate combinations of professional qualifications and experience may be accepted as equivalent to an honours degree, in accordance with the relevant regulations of the University.

Interviews may be held.

International candidates are expected to have educational qualifications of a standard equivalent to those outlined above. In addition, where such candidates are non-native speakers of the English language they must satisfy the University of their competency in the English language. For further information on international applications click here

How to Apply and Closing Dates

Make an Application

All Applicants must submit

  • Certified academic transcripts for each and every year of study, with certified English translations if applicable
  • Personal statement of 1,000 words maximum

Non Native English Speakers must also submit

  • Evidence of English competency which meets DCU entry requirements - see link

 EU Applicants

  • Please apply through PAC  Applications will be reviewed and offers will be made on an onging basis.  Should places still be available on this programme, the final date for receipt of applications will be 14 August 2018 for entry in Autumn 2018.

Non-EU Applicants

  • Please apply through PAC .  Applicants will be reviewed and offers will be made on an ongoing basis.  Should places still be available on this programme, the final date for receipt of applications will be 10 July 2018 for entry in Autumn 2018.  

  • Applicants who require a study visa for the purposes of gaining entry into Ireland are advised to apply as early as possible.  If you need a study visa and are a Non EU student, you are not eligible to apply for part time programmes as study visas are only granted for full time programmes.

  • To apply for this programme use the PAC code DC688.