Philosophy will be enjoyed by anyone who is fascinated by ideas, who likes to think and to explore, who is curious, and who wants to know which ideas are sound, which are unsound and why. It is not just an academic subject, but addresses puzzles and questions that arise in everyone's life. Its aim is to enable you to think independently and to argue cogently.
Here are a few typical philosophical questions: Can the existence of God be proven? Is there life after death? What is consciousness? Are there universal, objective moral truths, or are morals relative to cultures? Is knowledge socially constructed? Is science the best way to gain knowledge about the world? Why do we enjoy art? Are there valid moral objections to genetic engineering? Is eating animals wrong?
As important as the questions themselves is the process of learning to answer them. Philosophy shows how to think about such questions carefully, rationally and lucidly. This is of great value when dealing with the theoretical aspects of the other subjects you will study at university, particularly professional subjects like Law, Engineering and Accounting. It is also, as many students find, enjoyable in itself.
Areas of specialisation in Philosophy include ethics, bioethics, philosophy of mathematics, metaphysics, the history of modern philosophy, philosophy of art, cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, epistemology, logic, history and philosophy of science, philosophy of language, political philosophy, social philosophy and feminist philosophy.
Since philosophy is not often taught in schools, we begin our courses at a beginner's level. No special academic background is required, and lecturers make every effort to ensure that you understand the material. We are a 'user-friendly' subject, and the lecturers pride themselves on their availability to students.
Every 100-level Philosophy course is offered at an absolute beginner level. No background is presupposed. Each course involves two hours of lectures and one tutorial a week. A pass in one 100-level Philosophy course allows you to enter 200-level Philosophy courses.
A range of courses is offered at 200-level. Most of these courses are more systematic introductions to specific areas within Philosophy, such as the history and philosophy of science, Greek philosophy, logic, the philosophy of art, the philosophy of religion, cognitive science, epistemology and metaphysics, political philosophy, ethics and bioethics.
At 300-level, courses are usually offered in the history of philosophy, philosophy of science, philosophy of art, contemporary philosophy, logic and political philosophy.
The intellectual skills that Philosophy teaches provide an excellent preparation for success in many different careers. Business enterprises and government departments increasingly require people who demonstrate an ability to think and write clearly and who are intellectually adaptable.
Internationally Philosophy has also been recognised as providing excellent preparation for success in medical, business and law schools. Statistics have shown that Philosophy graduates are more successful in obtaining employment than graduates in many other subjects.
Recent graduates and postgraduates have been employed as policy analysts, writers, editorial assistants, software and web developers, teachers, environmental advisors, research managers, and academic administrators. Many of our graduates have gone on to further study, and some teach Philosophy at universities in New Zealand and overseas.
For further career information, please go to www.canterbury.ac.nz/careers