1. Handbook
  2. Majors, Minors and Specialisations
  3. Philosophy


MajorYear: 2019

You’re viewing the 2019 Handbook:
Or view archived Handbooks


Philosophy is the study of the most fundamental aspects of reality and value. Every area of inquiry and endeavour—from art and history through politics and economics to biology and mathematics—generates philosophical issues about our world and our place in it. Philosophers debate the meaning of life and the meaning of adverbs, the analysis of Divine foreknowledge and the analysis of colour, the nature of mathematics and the nature of terrorism.

Work in philosophy involves the creative, critical task of constructing, clarifying and comparing ideas. We dig into the fundamental assumptions beneath our everyday views, to see how they hang together, how they can be improved, or how we might have reason to prefer one over another. We learn to take conflicting views seriously, to clarify imprecise concepts, and to synthesize new positions.

You learn both traditional and contemporary approaches to individual topics in Philosophy. In tutorials and written work you practice the important skill of advancing cogent and informed arguments of your own.

Students go on to apply their philosophical skills in a wide range of different careers where creative and analytic thinking is useful, such as law, education, analysis, advocacy and policy development.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this major, students will be able to

  • possess a broad knowledge and understanding of the discipline of philosophy over a range of different areas, and a deep understanding of some of those areas. They will be able to identify and understand major disciplinary themes from among ethics, social and political philosophy, metaphysics, epistemology and logic, across a range of historical periods; and
  • engage critically with existing philosophical conversations and develop the capacity for critical and creative interventions in those discussions, using a wide range of approaches and independent research skills; and
  • discern the relevance of philosophical ideas in a wide variety of fields and contexts. This will include the ability to recognise and critically evaluate epistemological, ontological and ethical assumptions in social, political, scientific, moral, and cultural positions and arguments; and
  • bring philosophical intelligence and expertise to bear in their studies in disciplines outside philosophy, (in the humanities, social sciences and languages, as well as law, science, medicine, engineering, commerce and economics). They will be able to recognise the import of other disciplines for philosophical thinking; and
  • demonstrate a high-level of communication skills, including oral and written presentation of arguments; and
  • demonstrate high level collaboration skills, including effective work in small and large groups; and
  • critically and constructively engage with radical critique of their own presuppositions and commitments.

Last updated: 1 May 2019