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K.U. Leuven for Philosophy Postgraduate

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    Hello everyone. I was wondering if their was anyone on the board that could provide some input on K.U. Leuven's philosophy one-year taught master's program. In particular, I was wondering how easy or difficult it is to gain admissions to their program? I am currently applying for History Ph.D. program in the United States, but I am also applying to several Philosophy M.A.s to provide an option in case I am not accepted into any Ph.D. program.

    I know that this forum mainly focuses on British institutions, but I am hoping their is someone who might provide some information.
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    Hi. As an applicant to the Philosophy and Religious Studies program at KU Leuven (Undergraduate) I would suggest you contact Miss Emilia Brodencova, academic secretary at the Institute of Philosophy, she is responsible for the international programs and would be able to advise you and, possibly, guide you throughout your application. I certainly kept in contact with her for the last two months and it was just before Christmas that I had my interview with her and the Director of the English-Language program in Philosophy at KUL.

    I am very happy to see people considering KUL, which seems to be a very good, however underrated institution.

    All the best!
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    From my experience, Belgium universities don't really have fierce competition or anything like that, for master's at least. You're pretty much guaranteed a spot if you are motivated and financially solid. This is not due to lack of level however, as there are definitely a few very inspiring philosophers there (Van Haute comes to mind, if you are into philosophy of psychology at least), but rather that not enough people seem to be interested to study in non-english speaking countries for it to "overload". It's, however, just as difficult to get accepted into a PhD program..

    Anyway, good luck!
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    Hi. As an applicant to the Philosophy and Religious Studies program at KU Leuven (Undergraduate) I would suggest you contact Miss Emilia Brodencova, academic secretary at the Institute of Philosophy, she is responsible for the international programs and would be able to advise you and, possibly, guide you throughout your application. I certainly kept in contact with her for the last two months and it was just before Christmas that I had my interview with her and the Director of the English-Language program in Philosophy at KUL.

    I am very happy to see people considering KUL, which seems to be a very good, however underrated institution.

    All the best!
    I have been in contact with her on and off since October, and she has given me some general advice with regards to the admissions process and some of the requirements. However, I still do not have a very clear idea of what they expect from applicants. It seems pretty relaxed in terms of the admissions criteria compared with other postgraduate programs that I have applied to over the past several years.
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    Friend of mine is doing that programme, he got mid to high 2.1 but did particularly well in his final year philosophy modules (he was offered a PhD by his home university but declined). It's apparently not particularly hard to get into, but is meant to be a superb course.
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    (Original post by rmn002)
    I have been in contact with her on and off since October, and she has given me some general advice with regards to the admissions process and some of the requirements. However, I still do not have a very clear idea of what they expect from applicants. It seems pretty relaxed in terms of the admissions criteria compared with other postgraduate programs that I have applied to over the past several years.
    From what I have discussed with other postgraduate students over there, it is fairly easy to get accepted in most Belgian and Dutch universities, the difficult part is to score good or excellent grades. For this reason the rate of students who graduate is fairly lower than compared to, say, UK Universities, where the admission tends to be stricter. In Flanders and The Netherlands they seem to have a liberal approach towards admission, but a stricter approach towards examinations and actual study over there. The Institute of Philosophy at KUL is very liberal towards admission, however scoring good grades seems more difficult, as you can see on their web-page that only a handful score grades higher than 16 points (there is a maximum of 20).
    In general, students seem to be impressed by KUL and the city is quite welcoming and comfortable (I have never been there, but have read some reviews, talked to some students and my girlfriend visited the city this September).
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    From what I have discussed with other postgraduate students over there, it is fairly easy to get accepted in most Belgian and Dutch universities, the difficult part is to score good or excellent grades. For this reason the rate of students who graduate is fairly lower than compared to, say, UK Universities, where the admission tends to be stricter. In Flanders and The Netherlands they seem to have a liberal approach towards admission, but a stricter approach towards examinations and actual study over there. The Institute of Philosophy at KUL is very liberal towards admission, however scoring good grades seems more difficult, as you can see on their web-page that only a handful score grades higher than 16 points (there is a maximum of 20).
    In general, students seem to be impressed by KUL and the city is quite welcoming and comfortable (I have never been there, but have read some reviews, talked to some students and my girlfriend visited the city this September).
    I have found a number of pages on studying and grade policy/equivalency, but I have not found any links or pages citing a general breakdown of grades in relation to numbers of students. Do you have any links by any chance? Maybe I am just not seeing it.
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    I had a look around and found some pages that might help you. Here you go:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/45795928/P...ms-at-Kuleuven (you will find a general breakdown on page 16)
    http://www.law.kuleuven.be/cals/llm/...minations.html
    http://www.kuleuven.be/onderwijs/aan...e/06040101.htm

    Hope these were of some help.
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    I had a look around and found some pages that might help you. Here you go:
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/45795928/P...ms-at-Kuleuven (you will find a general breakdown on page 16)
    http://www.law.kuleuven.be/cals/llm/...minations.html
    http://www.kuleuven.be/onderwijs/aan...e/06040101.htm

    Hope these were of some help.
    Yeah, that helped a lot. Thanks very much.
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    (Original post by rmn002)
    Yeah, that helped a lot. Thanks very much.
    Glad to have been of help.

    I'd like to ask you, additionally, what do you make of KU Leuven's programs in Philosophy and the University in general? It is interesting for me to know, as a fellow applicant myself, what others think of this particular university.
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    Glad to have been of help.

    I'd like to ask you, additionally, what do you make of KU Leuven's programs in Philosophy and the University in general? It is interesting for me to know, as a fellow applicant myself, what others think of this particular university.
    I don't know a lot about the university overall, and my knowledge of the Institute is limited. They are known for being strong in the area of Phenomenology and modern Continental Philosophy, both of which I am intending on pursuing at the postgraduate level. I do not know how they are viewed in relationship to other philosophy departments in the English-speaking world though, but I would like to find out.
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    From what I have discussed with other postgraduate students over there, it is fairly easy to get accepted in most Belgian and Dutch universities, the difficult part is to score good or excellent grades. For this reason the rate of students who graduate is fairly lower than compared to, say, UK Universities, where the admission tends to be stricter.
    This is precisely one of the things I dislike about universities in Europe. They tend to admit people regardless of how they will cope with the material and as a consequence some people will waste a year if not more and leave without a degree. Also, the relative lack of competition for entrance means that being enrolled alone does not signal anything, e.g. to prospective employers, and since exams are geared towards making people fail, it makes it hard to compete with students fed with A's at American universities, be it in the international job market or for further study. Of course this does not apply if you intend to take up employment in the country where you study since recruiters there are aware of these differences.
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    (Original post by Ghost6)
    This is precisely one of the things I dislike about universities in Europe. They tend to admit people regardless of how they will cope with the material and as a consequence some people will waste a year if not more and leave without a degree. Also, the relative lack of competition for entrance means that being enrolled alone does not signal anything, e.g. to prospective employers, and since exams are geared towards making people fail, it makes it hard to compete with students fed with A's at American universities, be it in the international job market or for further study. Of course this does not apply if you intend to take up employment in the country where you study since recruiters there are aware of these differences.
    Hm.. I agree with a lot of what you said, but on the other hand, it does give students a more equal chance in the sense that high school grades are not necessarily representative of how well a person will do in a university. For example, one can have merely decent high school grades, and yet be top tier at a university. As such it'd be a loss to deny those students from entry. The reasoning is then as follows: if people have a minimum amount of grades (say an average of 7,5 out of 10 NL, or roughly B+ in the UK) in their undergraduate studies, they could at least principially finish this or that masters, so why would we deny them? Let them prove themselves! It is not as if just anyone is admitted, you still need a certain minimum qualification.

    PS. I think "exams are geared towards making people fail" is stretching it; they are geared towards testing adequate knowledge of the subjects involved, just like any other exam. Could you perhaps explain further?
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    (Original post by Humberto)
    PS. I think "exams are geared towards making people fail" is stretching it; they are geared towards testing adequate knowledge of the subjects involved, just like any other exam. Could you perhaps explain further?
    What I mean is that to my knowledge at a typical Swiss/German/Dutch/... university, the real selection process takes place at exam time and fail rates above 30% are not unheard of. While this can certainly be partly attributed to the open enrollment policy, I am wondering if sometimes exams are not purposely meant to eliminate 'borderline' students.
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    I would not say that most European Universities accept everybody and then aim to "trim the dead wood" with difficult exams. From what I have seen at KU Leuven the undergraduate admission requirements were quite demanding. For example:
    Most UK Universities ask for a score of 92 TOEFL Internet-based points, while KUL asked for 100.
    The application process in UK is fairly competitive, however most the UCAS system allows you to send a Peronal Statement, grades and certificates, a Reference and then, in the case of an offer, to score certain grades in examinations.
    KUL asks for a personal statement of at least one page, a piece of academic writing in the subject you are applying for or a closely related subject which should be between 10 and 20 pages, 3 letters of recommendation (preferably two teachers and a person who has observed your extracurricular activities), a detailed list of your extra-academic and social activities (or a CV), a list of grades throughout secondary education and finally an interview with a member of the faculty (not the admission staff).

    From what I have heard from someone who is studying there, this is by no means official, they usually accept around 30 to 40 students from a considerably large pool of applicants for their International Programs (all the programs in English are considered international).
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    Hi,

    As I'm currently a master student at the KUL, let me give you my opinion. I'm in the exact sciences, so I'm not very familiar with the philosophy department. I can tell you about the general university system though.

    For Belgian students, there is no admission. You basically sign up for an bachelor's degree (which would be similar to undergrad) and when you're done, you go on to get a master's. There is likewise no admission necessary for the master's. The only requirement is that you've taken the prerequisite courses at undergrad level.

    For internationals, there is an admissions committee. I don't think it's too difficult to get in, but I'd check with someone in the international office.

    As to exams and grades. Seeing as everyone is admitted, the first year is usually a way of determining who is fit for the degree and who isn't. This doesn't apply for all departments, but in the exact sciences it's not uncommon for about 1/2 of all first-years to drop out of the degree (though this is less for social sciences and other degrees). Also, you have the chance to retake your failed exams in August. And a lot of people do have to retake exams (I think you'll actually find more people retaking them than people who passed everything on their first try.) This gets better as you progress though. If you get through the first year, you'll make it to the end and you're grades usually progressively get better.

    Grades are on the average lower than elsewhere I think. You graduate cum laude with a 69% and up, magna cum laude with 77% and up, summa cum laude with 85% and up. The grading is very dependent on the faculty though. There are some where everyone graduates cum laude and some where that's a real challenge. Your exams are graded out of 20. 16's are very good and well above average.

    In terms of the city, it's great. During the week you'll see only students and there's a party every night, everywhere. Bars are very cheap and there's a lot of student-run bars where beer is 1€. The only downside is that all Belgians leave to go home for the weekend, so on Saturday and Sunday, it's pretty deserted.

    That's about all I can think of.

    This is my view. People in other departments may give you other opinions.
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    (Original post by KULCE)
    Hi,

    As I'm currently a master student at the KUL, let me give you my opinion. I'm in the exact sciences, so I'm not very familiar with the philosophy department. I can tell you about the general university system though.

    For Belgian students, there is no admission. You basically sign up for an bachelor's degree (which would be similar to undergrad) and when you're done, you go on to get a master's. There is likewise no admission necessary for the master's. The only requirement is that you've taken the prerequisite courses at undergrad level.

    For internationals, there is an admissions committee. I don't think it's too difficult to get in, but I'd check with someone in the international office.

    As to exams and grades. Seeing as everyone is admitted, the first year is usually a way of determining who is fit for the degree and who isn't. This doesn't apply for all departments, but in the exact sciences it's not uncommon for about 1/2 of all first-years to drop out of the degree (though this is less for social sciences and other degrees). Also, you have the chance to retake your failed exams in August. And a lot of people do have to retake exams (I think you'll actually find more people retaking them than people who passed everything on their first try.) This gets better as you progress though. If you get through the first year, you'll make it to the end and you're grades usually progressively get better.

    Grades are on the average lower than elsewhere I think. You graduate cum laude with a 69% and up, magna cum laude with 77% and up, summa cum laude with 85% and up. The grading is very dependent on the faculty though. There are some where everyone graduates cum laude and some where that's a real challenge. Your exams are graded out of 20. 16's are very good and well above average.

    In terms of the city, it's great. During the week you'll see only students and there's a party every night, everywhere. Bars are very cheap and there's a lot of student-run bars where beer is 1€. The only downside is that all Belgians leave to go home for the weekend, so on Saturday and Sunday, it's pretty deserted.

    That's about all I can think of.

    This is my view. People in other departments may give you other opinions.
    Thank you for your view on KUL. Could you elaborate a bit more on the quality of courses, lecturers, interaction between students and professors and interaction between international and Flemish/Dutch students? I would very much appreciate it as I am also considering KUL as an option for Philosophy and Religious Studies.

    Thanks!
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    (Original post by zerlendi)
    Thank you for your view on KUL. Could you elaborate a bit more on the quality of courses, lecturers, interaction between students and professors and interaction between international and Flemish/Dutch students? I would very much appreciate it as I am also considering KUL as an option for Philosophy and Religious Studies.

    Thanks!
    Sure, though keep in mind that this is again just my experience and that I'm from a totally different department.

    The quality of courses depends strongly on the lecturer. In our department, all classes are taught by professors and not TA's. I had some really bad profs in my first two years, but since then they've all been good. If I compare my experience at the KUL with the one at a similar French institution (abroad program), I found the KUL more challenging. All in all, the institution has a very good name internationally as far as I know. If you want more detailed info on the Philosophy program, I think you'd be best off contacting one of their current students. Try getting in touch through the international office.

    The interaction between professors and students in my department is pretty low (though this is really due to the students). Belgian students aren't big fans of class participation in general, though I know that in other departments professors try to get discussions going as often as possible. I can imagine that discussion would be more crucial in the philosophy department, though I have no experience there. Again, best contact a current student for that.

    As for interaction between Belgians and internationals. Flemish students have good language skills, which makes it a lot easier to establish contact. As far as I know, they're also very welcoming. My department doesn't have an international program as the courses are in Dutch, so I can't tell you about the academic interaction. But in terms of social life, you shouldn't have too much trouble getting in touch.
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    Hi,

    I've also applied to MPhil program at Institute of Philosophy. I'm about to complete my M.A. study at my home country. What I really wonder is scholarships for this post-initial masters program. As far as I understand from the web site, there is a scholarship targeting non-eea students called DBOF. But the problem is that I cannot find any information about how to apply. Is there anyone who can share some info on this issue, any info will be much appreciated. Good luck for anyone applying to the program
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    (Original post by andaval)
    Hi,

    I've also applied to MPhil program at Institute of Philosophy. I'm about to complete my M.A. study at my home country. What I really wonder is scholarships for this post-initial masters program. As far as I understand from the web site, there is a scholarship targeting non-eea students called DBOF. But the problem is that I cannot find any information about how to apply. Is there anyone who can share some info on this issue, any info will be much appreciated. Good luck for anyone applying to the program
    Hi. Great to hear you are applying to Leuven.
    Reading from the website, you normally apply online, though the guest account on the online form.
    http://www.kuleuven.be/research/fund...personal/#dbof

    However:
    Doctoral scholarships for international co-operation with countries outside the EEA (DBOF)

    The next call will be announced in the autumn of 2013.

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