So I have studied philosophy : BA, MA (UK). Both my BA & MA dissertations are on 18th & 19th century German Philosophy. Nothing political. During my MA, however, I noticed that I would much prefer to continue with political philosophy (PhD). I attended a great seminar with a superb professor that made me realise this.

However, I feel kind of stuck now. I am worried it will look very unstable and immature to say that after the MA, I now want to not do anything with German Philosophy at all anymore.

Should I maybe aim to do a second MA (or 1 year MPhil in the UK) and then focus more on philosophy? Or is this silly? I only had one class in political philosophy during my MA, which I got a A+ for, but apart from that not much.

I would also like to contact that professor and possibly discuss working with him, but I don't yet have a good idea for a topic, I am worried I will sound super undecided with this story, and I am also reluctant to tell him that his seminar inspired me, because it can easily sound super cheesy.

Any advice?

PS: I am only considering applying to PhDs in the UK. This makes a difference I guess, because in the US it's not that important to not know what exactly one wants to tackle when applying for a PhD, whereas in the UK PhDs are 3-4 years and people expect you to know your topic.

  • 1
    There is nothing wrong with being academically immature when you start your PhD. PhDs are like an early step in becoming a mature researcher. Dec 6, 2017 at 13:28
  • Isn't it a thing like "German political philosophy"? Why does "political philosophy" imply "not do anything with German Philosophy anymore"?
    – Distic
    Dec 6, 2017 at 13:56
  • @Distic Good point! You're right, it does not imply that at all. However, what I personally focused on when I did German Philosophy was entirely non-political (and it's fairly obvious from both my BA & MA dissertations as well as the classes I took). And it would be quite a stretch to try to find something political in that, I think. Dec 6, 2017 at 15:16
  • @J. Miller: In your dissertations, you probably discussed the ideas of some authors. When you will look at what they have written on politics, and the links will become obvious. Anyway you should not worry.
    – Distic
    Dec 6, 2017 at 15:40
  • Agree with @LyndonWhite in that, yes, this does evidence immaturity of a sort, but that that's not necessarily a bad thing.
    – Nat
    Dec 7, 2017 at 10:03

1 Answer 1


There's nothing immature about changing research themes from MA to PhD. It's very common especially in philosophy (philosophy PhD myself).

That being said, there's something ill-advised in writing I now want to not do anything with German Philosophy at all anymore.

Instead, It's best to explain your new found interest and talk positively about it and the sort of interesting research you want to do on that. Worded another way, having good reasons for wanting to focus on political philosophy will make you sound mature.

Similarly, what's wrong with telling someone that you are interested in pursuing research lines similar to the ones they do ... when you are interested in pursuing research lines similar to the ones they do. Instead, it's precisely what you should do and be able to do at the PhD-level (note you don't need to make it seem like fawning over the person if you focus on the idea).

The one thing that's slightly troubling is what I mentioned above. Unless political philosophy is being construed very narrowly, there's quite a bit of German philosophy that interacts with it... (the point of this paragraph isn't to argue with your new-found interest -- it's to highlight that mentioning your old interest negatively inspires just this sort of reaction and focuses things on what shouldn't focus on).

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