MA in Ethics (General)

Master in Ethics (General)

Course begins again in September 2018

Programme coordinators:

The MA in Ethics is delivered by the DCU School of Theology, Philosophy and Music and the Institute of Ethics. By offering modules in general and applied ethics, the MA in Ethics enables course participants to evaluate soundly and confront confidently a range of important contemporary ethical challenges in society. The MA in Ethics is distinctive and interdisciplinary by drawing on expertise from the areas of ethics, philosophy, theology and humanities and is targeted towards both graduates and professionals from various fields. The course has attracted people from various professional backgrounds including education, journalism, social work, business, health care and law.

Aims and objectives:

The MA in Ethics was established in 2010 in the context of the ongoing demand for expertise in ethical analysis and decision-making. The underpinning philosophy of the MA programme is that ethical issues, challenges and dilemmas are best explored by examining them from a wide spectrum of ethical theories and by developing an active and creative interaction between theory and practice. The course provides participants with a grounding in the foundations of ethics, human rights and social justice. Participants will also develop the necessary ethical analysis and decision-making skills to apply ethical perspectives and principles to real-life and professional dilemmas. As such the programme aims to "add value" to continuing professional development.

Programme structure:

The programme is part-time, over two years. Lectures take place on Tuesday eveninstarting at 6pm​ and on 2 Saturdays in the first year. Course participants take six taught modules, all of which are core:

  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Human Rights & Global Justice
  • Business Ethics OR Contemporary Topics in Ethics
  • Comparative Religious Ethics
  • Global Bioethics
  • Readings in Ethics
You’ll also complete a minor thesis on an ethical issue or question either of a general public concern or of professional relevance.

Introduction to Ethics: This module provides a comprehensive introduction to ethics to enable course participants to further explore key contemporary ethical issues. The module explores how ethical theories influence ethical decision-making and provide frameworks for ethical reasoning and analysis.

Human Rights & Social Justice: This module will explore human rights in the context of global and social justice. It will offer a historical outline of the tradition of thinking about justice and the development of natural and human rights within this tradition.

Business Ethics: This module is designed to provide course participants with the necessary conceptual tools to analyse ethical dilemmas in the world of business at the beginning of the twenty-first century. It will train and enhance students' skills in applying ethical theories to a wide range of business ethics topics.

Contemporary Topics in Ethics: This module examines a range of contemporary ethical issues and challenges affecting various aspects of life and society in a systematic manner. The module will focus on ethical issues that emerge, for example, in the area of technology, social media, the environment, business and the economy.

Comparative Religious Ethics: This module explores how various religious traditions influence ethical decision-making and practice. The module will examine ways in which religious beliefs and worldviews influence the development of various forms of ethical perspectives and standards that have come to shape and define cultures and societies.

Global Bioethics: The purpose of this module is to examine contemporary global bioethical issues and develop further skills in applying ethical theories and models to practical settings. The module will apply the various ethical principles to contemporary bioethical issues, exposing students to a broad range of topical problems.

Readings in Ethics: The purpose of this module is to introduce students to a selection of classic texts in the field of ethics thereby providing a more in-depth examination of the texts that are at the source of the major ethical theories.


Each taught module is assessed through a written major paper and other forms of continuous assessments such as presentations.

Thesis: Course participants will complete a Research Module, which includes a series of seminars on academic writing, research methodologies and a minor thesis (15,000 words) on an ethical issue or question either of a general public concern or of professional relevance.


The MA in Ethics is awarded by Dublin City University [Level 9 of the National Framework of Qualifications]. Participants who do not wish to complete an entire MA may exit the programme with a Graduate Diploma in Ethics after successfully completing 60 credits of taught modules or with a Graduate Certificate in Ethics after successfully completing 30 credits of taught modules.

Why DCU:

DCU’s MA in Ethics is designed to prepare course participants to contribute to an ethically sustainable society by enhancing their knowledge-base in ethics as well as building their skills 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’.

Why do this programme?

Upon successful completion of the course of study for this award, a graduate will be able to:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of a broad range of ethical theories and principles that are at the forefront of general and applied ethics.
  • Display 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, intercultural and other perspectives.
  • Analyse specific ethical issues, challenges and dilemmas arising from contemporary work, professional activity and public life.

The course equips participants with a comprehensive foundation in theoretical and applied ethics and the necessary skills to evaluate soundly and confront confidently a range of important contemporary ethical challenges.

Career prospects:

The course is designed for graduates and professionals working in the areas of:

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

It will be of particular relevance for those whose work involves participation 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.

What graduates say about the course:

“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

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.

Dates for submission of applicants:

EU Applicants

Application deadline: 31 July 2018

Non-EU Applicants

Application deadline: 10 July 2018

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.

How to apply:

Apply through the Postgraduate Application Centre. Please use PAC code DC688.

Flyer to download here