Study

Philosophy examines and calls into question the fundamental concepts and commitments of human knowledge, discourse, and practice. It asks questions like: What is there really? What counts as knowledge, or as a good argument? How ought we live? What is a person? What do we owe one another? How are human societies constituted? What is justice? Philosophical reflection can challenge and deepen your understanding of issues as important and various as human rights, the methods of scientific inquiry, the ethical implications of climate change, disability and public policy — and many others.

Most fundamentally, studying philosophy teaches you how to think, and to think clearly, analytically, with depth and imagination. You will learn to analyse arguments with a critical eye, and develop compelling arguments of your own. You will learn to evaluate and organise complex bodies of information and communicate elaborate ideas in writing and in speech.

Not only do these essential skills provide a solid foundation for your other university studies: success in any demanding profession calls for them. The higher you aim in life, the more challenging the problems you want to tackle with, or the debates you want to engage in, the more useful you will find the resources that the rich traditions of philosophical thought can equip you with. It is said that the human mind can only create problems it can also solve. Whether or not this is so, what we know for sure is that life will become endlessly more interesting once you learn to look at it from a philosophical perspective.

Click here for more information about the practical advantages of studying philosophy.

Undergraduate

In studying philosophy at UNSW Australia in Sydney, you will have the opportunity to study widely across this subject, as well as to focus on issues that are or become of particular interest to you. You will both learn about how past and contemporary thinkers have approached fundamental questions about reality, knowledge, society and human existence, and to think critically and creatively about these issues yourself.

The undergraduate program at UNSW Australia covers areas such as:

  • Metaphysics and epistemology: philosophies of reality and knowledge, philosophical logic, philosophy of science.
  • Philosophy of mind: the mind/body problem, philosophical psychology (theories of perception, thought, and action), cognitive science and artificial intelligence.
  • Moral, social and political philosophy: Moral theory (deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics) and applied ethics, political philosophy and its history, social philosophy and its history, race and gender theory, recognition theory, social ontology.
  • The history of philosophy: ancient Greek philosophy, Chinese philosophy (Confucianism, Daoism and others), early modern philosophy (from Descartes to Kant), post-Kantian German philosophy (Hegel, Nietzsche and others).
  • Modern European Philosophy: Phenomenology, Poststructuralism, Hermeneutics, Critical Theory.
  • Aesthetics: Questions concerning beauty, the sublime and the arts.

Philosophy is available through the following undergraduate study options:

The courses we offer

Honours

A fourth year of honours study is available for high achieving students. During this year you will write a philosophical thesis on a topic of your choice, personally supervised by a professional philosopher. Finishing honours with a good mark also opens a path to a PhD in philosophy.

Higher Degree Research

The best students will be able to continue to a Masters or a PhD in philosophy. A successful PhD-thesis is where you reach a truly professional level as a thinker. It prepares you to a wide range of tasks that require the most demanding kinds of intellectual capacity, and it also enables you to apply for jobs and engage in a career in philosophy.

Click here for more information on applying for postgraduate research.