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Are killer drones immoral? What about genetic engineering? Should rich countries give substantially more in overseas aid? Are there objective moral truths? Does God exist? Could we survive death as computer uploads? What is consciousness? Can machines think? What is the difference between science and myth? Why do we enjoy art? Is time travel possible? These are a few of the questions that are studied in UC Philosophy classes.
Philosophy teaches you how to think about such questions rationally, carefully, and clearly. These skills are of real value in the workplace, and also when dealing with more theoretical aspects of other disciplines, including professional subjects such as Law, Nursing, and even Engineering. Philosophy is also fascinating in itself, as many students find.
Philosophy is for anyone who is intellectually inquisitive, likes ideas, likes to think and explore. It is not just an academic subject but tackles issues and questions that arise for everyone. Many students try a Philosophy course and are hooked, going on to major in Philosophy or to complete a double degree, for example with Law.
UC offers world-class expertise in specific areas of Philosophy and a broad-based degree. The department is a tight-knit group who go the extra mile to help students.
The Philosophy degree is flexible, allowing Philosophy students to pursue very different pathways. This flexibility also allows students majoring in other subjects to add Philosophy courses to their degree and this distinctiveness gives an edge in the job market. Philosophy students come from Arts, Law, Commerce, Music, Fine Arts, Health Sciences, Biological Sciences, Physics, Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science, and elsewhere.
Areas of specialisation in Philosophy at UC include ethics, bioethics, epistemology and metaphysics, logic, history of philosophy, history and philosophy of science and technology, cognitive science and philosophy of mind, philosophy and foundations of computing, philosophy of Artificial Intelligence, philosophy of language, and political philosophy. There are also specialised courses on famous figures such as Plato, Descartes, Wittgenstein and Turing.
Philosophy Internships are increasingly popular with UC students; these provide a chance to hone skills, gain work experience, meet potential employers, and build a CV.
Since philosophy is not always taught in schools, 100-level Philosophy courses at UC are designed for beginners. No special academic background is required.
Each course involves two hours of lectures and one tutorial a week. A pass in a single 100-level Philosophy course allows you to enrol in any 200-level Philosophy course.
There is a broad menu of 200-level Philosophy courses at UC, ranging from ancient Greek philosophy to philosophy of cyberspace, from medical ethics to mathematical logic. A student with no 100-level Philosophy courses but with good results in other appropriate courses can enrol in 200-level Philosophy.
At 300-level, courses are usually offered in contemporary philosophy, history of philosophy, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, mathematical logic, philosophical logic, ethics and bioethics.
The intellectual skills that Philosophy teaches lead to success in many different careers. Philosophy graduates are sought after by industry, government, education, and the financial sector. Many sectors increasingly require people who can think independently and creatively, write clearly, apply logic, solve abstract problems, and communicate precisely. This is what Philosophy students learn to do.
Philosophy students outperform all other majors in the American Graduate Record Examinations, the entry requirement for graduate study in the USA. Internationally Philosophy has been recognised as providing excellent preparation for careers in medicine, business, and law.
Recent UC graduates in Philosophy have become policy analysts, lawyers, web developers, teachers, environmental and sustainability advisors, research managers, popular science writers, claims analysts, computer game designers, e-learning executives, engineers, filmmakers, doctors, business analysts, publishers, editors, science journalists, software engineers, technical writers, university administrators and university lecturers. Many of our graduates have gone on to further study in New Zealand or overseas.
Find out more about what you can do with a degree in Philosophy.
More informationDepartment of Philosophy
College of Arts
University of Canterbury
Private Bag 4800