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What is the Moral Philosophy Seminar?

At the beginning of the academic year the Scholars come together in Oxford for an intensive four-day programme of discussions on political and moral philosophy during which they are encouraged to explore what constitutes leadership and a ‘good society’. Guided by leading academics and experts, the Scholars read and talk about a range of seminal texts – from Aristotle to Mandela – and are encouraged to reflect upon fundamental questions about how individuals engage in civic and public life, including the tensions that can exist between principles such as representation and democracy, equality and justice, personal liberty and collective security.

These seminars provide a space in which Scholars can examine their own attitudes and learn from the reflections and experiences of their fellow Scholars. The initial seminar in Oxford is followed up on three occasions throughout the year, enabling Scholars to continue to explore these questions and develop their philosophical reasoning. These further sessions are also compulsory.

I have been in academic circles for more than six years and feel that the seminar was one of the most thought provoking exercises in which I have ever taken part. My notions of leadership – and what it is to be a leader – have been greatly impacted by the seminar.

Ilan Manor, Israel, DPhil International Relations,
Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Scholar, 2015-18

The Moral Philosophy Seminar also serves as an important bonding experience for the Scholars newly arrived in Oxford. They have the opportunity to meet and get to know one another through various social activities and outings. It is a required element of the Leadership Programme.


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