Philosophy, Art & Social
Thought

In PAS, philosophy and philosophically informed critical theory orient the approach to the arts, and to questions bearing on the social and political orders.

The MA and PhD programs in Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought are designed to prepare students to undertake original, independent research in the broad range of fields covered in the program’s title, and/or professional work of an informed and creative character in fields requiring sophistication in cultural analysis. They are designed to expose students from a wide range of backgrounds and interests to important developments in modern thought, and thus to sophisticated new approaches to the arts and socio-political phenomena.

Philosophy and philosophically informed critical theory generally orient the approach to art and to questions bearing on the social and political orders in these programs, providing a strong basis for cross-disciplinary thinking. This orientation is itself open to questioning, either from other philosophical standpoints or from the perspectives of the various domains under examination. A non-dogmatic exploration of philosophical presuppositions is a core activity of PACT faculty in their seminars. Philosophy and critical theory are therefore both vehicles for cross-disciplinary inquiry and objects of study in their own right. It is, once again, from a well-justified and always searching reference to philosophical and theoretical perspectives (particularly, but not exclusively, from the Continental tradition) that historical and aesthetic judgments are entertained in reflection that is inherently cross-disciplinary.

The MA and PhD programs in Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought and Literary, Musical and Visual Thought are conceived as sister-programs.  The programs share seminars and are distinguished simply by an emphasis in curricular content.  Both programs give a strong place to critical thought and its foundations, but students who wish to present a PhD with a more significant concentration in the arts (for professional purposes) have the option of following the LMVT path.

The curricula in both programs involve twelve seminars at both the MA and PhD levels.  Professors directing these intensive, cross-disciplinary seminars have complete freedom in determining their precise content, and will frequently pursue questions relating to contemporary global issues or contemporary currents in thought from the basis of their special areas of research.  The seminar structure is modelled on the North-American “graduate seminar,” which is quite compatible with practices in professorial seminars in the modern European tradition.   Therefore, students will enjoy a strong component of professorial instruction, along with the forms of conversation and exchange typical of the American seminar. Seminars are directed by a professor or a distinguished practitioner from the arts with significant theoretical interests. All seminars are taught in English.

The strength of the cross-disciplinary dimension of graduate study at the EGS is exceptional.  Students are introduced to cross-disciplinary practices in their individual seminars and have a uniquely cross-disciplinary experience through the course of their study (in twelve or twenty-four courses with professors of the highest level).  They traverse an exciting range of material from the arts, the sciences, and the humanities, gaining a general perspective on the contemporary field of critical thought even as they enter deeply into a set of powerfully formulated questions.  Their exposure to a diverse range of modes of questioning is designed to provide them with a special freedom in their individual research and a capacity to engage contemporary questions in a manner that is both imaginative and concrete.  We attempt to give students the preparation required for inventing new research problematics.

Admission Requirements

MA:

Students will have completed the equivalent of either a bachelor’s degree, with a grade-point average of A- or better, or EQF Level 6 certification (completion of the first Bologna cycle), with the minimum equivalent of an upper second (2.1) in the U.K. system.

Students may wish to point to other experiences or achievements that reflect their capacity for graduate study (this may pertain particularly to students returning to study after a period of other work experience). As well, students who lack the normal degree prerequisites may provide evidence of other educational or work experiences (i.e., in the creative arts, media, or an NGO) with their application. Acceptance will be conditional upon approval of the Dean of the Division of PACT.

PhD:

Students will have completed the equivalent of either a master’s degree, with a grade-point average of A- or better, or EQF Level 7 certification (completion of the second Bologna cycle), with the minimum equivalent of an upper second (2.1) in the U.K. system.

Students may wish to point to other experiences or achievements that reflect their capacity for graduate study (this may pertain particularly to students returning to study after a period of other work experience). As well, students who lack the normal degree prerequisites may provide evidence of other educational or work experiences (i.e., in the creative arts, media, or an NGO) with their application. Acceptance will be conditional upon approval of the Dean of the Division of PACT.

Curriculum and Program Objectives

The PACT programs are distinguished by the way they combine a low-residency structure with extensive offerings. Despite their compact format, they offer considerably more instruction than most MA and PhD programs in Europe (allowing students to pursue concurrently other professional work or studies). The two degree programs (PAS and LMVT) frequently share seminars, and it is possible for students to pursue research in fields such as media studies, digital design, architecture, or rhetoric and philosophy of language in either program.

MA:

The ambition of this program is to prepare students for cross-disciplinary research addressed to the critical questions of our time. Students pursuing work in the arts, journalism, the visual media, or architecture (to offer just a few examples) will find intellectual inspiration in this MA program alongside students pursuing a more academic track. PACT seminars, in the first year, are “introductory” only in the sense that they lead students into a profound understanding of the guiding concepts of the fields under discussion. They are distinctive in that they provide students with immediate exposure to teaching of a very high level with leading professors. In their second year, students join PhD students in seminars of the same calibre. It is a long-standing practice of the PACT Division that both MA and PhD students study alongside one another.

For a detailed description of our program objectives and learning outcomes for the MA program and individual modules please see this document (download Document 1). The modules described in this document were offered in 2016. Each session meeting will have modules with new content (though they may be taught by the same professor). The modules offered in every session will have the same cross-disciplinary character and therefore have comparable objectives and learning outcomes. We offer these descriptions as exemplary for PAS modules.

PhD:

PhD-level training in the PACT division is designed to equip students with a comprehensive grasp of a broadly-conceived field of study (normally cross-disciplinary, and sometimes of their own definition) and with mastery of the practices of research employed in that field. Students are also trained to undertake critical analysis at the highest level and to engage fully with new forms of thought and creative works.

At the foundation of this training is ongoing exploration (in seminars and lectures) of the fundamental concepts at work in the fields covered and constant reflection on the meaning of these concepts for various forms of cross-disciplinary research. It should be emphasized that PACT faculty are frequently leaders in their respective fields and have played a role in the critical elaboration of guiding ideas for these fields. Their teaching normally involves an enactment of the thinking process entailed in the formation of these ideas or concepts (leading them to new formulations and sometimes new discoveries), and they therefore conduct a form of research in and through their teaching. Students have the unique opportunity to participate in this “teaching-led” research with professors of special distinction.

This preparation proves to be an excellent ground for the pursuit of autonomous and original research in a PhD thesis in an area of the student’s choosing, and it prepares students for work in a broad range of professional contexts, be they in academia or in other sectors where inventive and critical thought is required.

For a detailed description of our program objectives and learning outcomes for the PhD program and individual modules please see this document (download Document 2). The modules described in this document were offered in 2016. Each session meeting will have modules with new content (though they may be taught by the same professor). The modules offered in every session will have the same cross-disciplinary character and therefore have comparable objectives and learning outcomes. We offer these descriptions as exemplary for PAS modules.

*Students may attend residencies in either Saas Fee, Switzerland, or Valletta, Malta. Spaces will be allotted to students in the residency site to which they originally applied; students will need to apply to the Dean for permission to attend a seminar session at the other residency site. While we must monitor seminar sizes, we will make every effort to accommodate these requests as we seek to encourage movement between Valletta, Malta and Saas Fee, Switzerland.

Degree Requirements

MA:

The MA in PAS requires 90 ECTS credits in total, to be obtained through participation in the session seminars, evening lectures, and workshops. Attendance is required.  Students will also participate in a colloquium and complete an MA thesis. Students are required to undertake two three-week sessions over a period of two years, either in Saas Fee, Switzerland, Valletta, Malta, or online.*  Students will normally take 6 courses per session, though it is possible for students to split their coursework between Saas Fee and Valetta (taking, for example, 3 courses in Saas Fee and 3 in Valetta). The MA thesis, prepared in the third year, should be approximately 25,000 words. The work is expected to be at a level that demonstrates a strong grasp of the chosen field of study and the capacity to situate the student’s own thinking within this area. The duration of MA studies is limited to 5 years.

For more information on obtaining an MA in PAS, review the MA Thesis Guidelines document. The MA Program in Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought is accredited by the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority. The MA degree is EQF Level 7.

PhD:

The PhD in PAS requires participation in the seminar sessions, workshops, and evening lectures. Attendance is required.  Students will also take part in a colloquium and complete a PhD thesis. Students are required to undertake two three-week sessions over a period of two years, either in Saas Fee, Switzerland, Valletta, Malta or online.*  Students will normally take 6 courses per session, though it is possible for students to split their coursework between Saas Fee and Valetta (taking, for example, 3 courses in Saas Fee and 3 in Valetta). The doctoral thesis should be approximately 75,000-100,000 words. It is normally completed, under approved supervision, in a period of 2 or 3 years after completion of the coursework. However, students may take up to 5 years to complete the thesis under supervision and defend it (for a maximum of 7 years of PhD study). Students entering the PhD program after 2021 must pay supervision fees for each year in which they receive supervision for their doctoral thesis.

For more information on obtaining an PhD in PAS, review the PhD Thesis Guidelines document. The PhD Program in Philosophy, Art, and Social Thought is accredited by the Malta Further and Higher Education Authority. The PhD degree is EQF Level 8.

*The PACT Division of the EGS reserves the right to suspend, or even remove from the program, any student who does not make sufficient academic progress. Students will receive a timely warning in this case and should be in contact with the Dean or Assistant Dean in order to address their situation.

Campuses

Valletta, Malta

Valletta is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is designated the European Capital of Culture in 2018. It is the capital of the European Union’s southernmost and smallest member state, Malta, which gained independence from Britain in 1964. Situated about 96 km from Italy, and 290 km from North Africa, it comprises seven islands, of which only three are inhabited: Malta, Gozo, and Comino.

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Saas-Fee

Known as the “Pearl of the Alps,” Saas-Fee is located near the Matterhorn of Wallis (Valais). Surrounded by thirteen mountains, it is the main village in the Saastal or the Saas Valley and a municipality in the district of Visp within the canton of Wallis (Valais) in Switzerland. Its location close to the glaciers of the Dom and the Allalinhorn, along with its neighboring mountain peaks, such as the Weissmies, the Nadelhorn, and the Lenzspitze, have made Saas-Fee an attractive destination in the Swiss Alps with recreational opportunities throughout the year including skiing, caving, snowshoe trekking, mountain climbing, canyon climbing, and ice climbing.

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Apply now

The European Graduate School / EGS degree programs are now accepting applications. Interested students are invited to submit an online application for admission. You can apply for auditing here.

In 2021, our program is unfolding over 5 months, starting in mid-June. Students are thus invited to apply before May 24, 2021 for seminars they wish to take during this session. We recommend that subsequent applications be submitted by June 24, 2021. The final deadline is October 1.

For inquiries please contact: admissions@egs.edu

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