Study options

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Students may do either a BA in Philosophy or a BSc in Philosophy. For a full list of courses offered in Philosophy follow the link in the box at the bottom of the page.

Choose a BA or a BSc in Philosophy

All undergraduate courses in philosophy are in the schedule for the BA degree and most (but not all) are in the BSc degree. The courses that can be taken for a BA or a BSc are listed in University Calendar. Follow the link at the bottom of the page to view the full list of courses we offer.

If you wish to discuss your course choices contact the Undergraduate Co-ordinator.

Tutorials

Tutorials are offered in all 100-level courses in Philosophy and may also be offered in 200- and 300-level courses. Where tutorials are offered, regular attendance is strongly recommended. Tutorials normally begin in the second or third week of term and details are announced in the first lecture in each course.

BA Honours

Students with a BA(Hons) in Philosophy are well qualified to enrol in Masters or PhD programmes in New Zealand or at internationally renowned universities overseas.

The BA(Hons) is a one-year programme for holders of a three year BA or BSc. It is composed of six courses chosen from PHIL 413-474 and a research essay of 7500-10,000 words (PHIL480). Alternatively, with the approval of the Heads of Programmes concerned, a maximum of two equivalent courses may be selected from other programmes; these courses must be prescribed for an Honours or Masters degree.

Courses

Explore the full list of Honours courses on offer by following the link in the box below.

Courses are chosen in consultation with the Honours Advisor. The degree takes one year to complete. The research essay must deal with a topic approved by the Honours Advisor. (The resulting qualification is similar to the four-year honours degrees offered at many North American universities.)

Please note that not all 400-level courses listed on the university web site are offered each year. Contact the School for more information.

Prerequisites

Prospective students must normally hold a three-year BA or BSc degree including 60 points in philosophy at 300-level. It would be unusual for a student to be admitted who did not have at least a B grade (or equivalent) in courses at 300-level.

Complete regulations for the degree may be found in the University Calendar.

For further information please contact the Honours Advisor.

BSc Honours (Mathematics and Philosophy)

Philosophy and Mathematics

UC offers several degree programmes in Mathematics & Philosophy. The flagship BSc(Hons) Mathematics & Philosophy programme is designed to produce Honours graduates in Mathematics with a substantial background in Philosophy and an awareness of the connections between the two fields. There are also routes through Mathematics & Philosophy to double-major BA or BSc or to the double BA-BSc degrees. The intellectual training given by this combination of disciplines noted for their rigour will not only prepare graduates for postgraduate research in the philosophy and foundations of mathematics but also make them attractive to employers who value the ability to think and argue clearly.

The interaction between Mathematics and Philosophy in the past 150 years has been far greater than at any previous time. Especially from 1907 to 1931 there was a serious, at times acrimonious philosophical debate among leading mathematicians, about the nature and practice of mathematics. In 1931, Kurt Gödel published two dramatic theorems that, by clearly pointing out the limitations of formal mathematics, revolutionised thinking about logic and the foundations of mathematics. Not long after that, the work of Turing and others opened up logical and philosophical questions about computability and the nature of the human mind. In the last fifty years, mathematical logic has had a surprising impact on areas such as analysis, where it has been shown that certain natural objects can be proved to exist only if we add, to the normal axioms of set theory, otherwise unmotivated, and provably independent, hypotheses.

The degree

Entry to the BSc(Hons) is now at 400 level. The one-year programme consists of MPHI450 and seven courses chosen from MATH 401-490 (other than MATH449) and PHIL 413-474. Normally one of the seven courses must be MATH443 if the student has not been credited with MATH343 previously. Normally two courses will be chosen from the PHIL course list and five courses from the MATH course list.

Prerequisites

Entry is from a completed undergraduate degree, generally the BSc, with good grades and the following elements (or their equivalent from another New Zealand university):

  1. 45 points from MATH 201-294; and
  2. 60 points from MATH 301-394; and
  3. 45 points from PHIL208, 209, 233, HAPS201, 202, MATH230; and
  4. 45 points from PHIL 301-399, HAPS302, MATH308, 309, 336

University of Canterbury BSc(Hons) Courses, Subjects and Qualifications.

For further information please contact the Coordinator of the BSc(Hons) programme in Mathematics and Philosophy Professor Douglas Bridges or Associate Professor Diane Proudfoot.

The Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Philosophy) is a one-year programme for those who already hold or who qualify for a BSc degree. The PGDipSc is available to students who are unsure whether they want to undertake an entire MSc or who have not made the grades that allow entry to the MSc. It allows students to receive a science postgraduate qualification in philosophy after one year of postgraduate study. A student who completes the PGDipSc with good grades can then go on to complete an MSc in Philosophy by thesis only in a minimum of one further year of study.

Course selection

The course of study for the Postgraduate Diploma in Science (Philosophy) is same as that for Part I of the MSc in Philosophy. Students choose eight courses from the available 400-level courses. Courses are chosen in consultation with the Graduate Studies Coordinator.

Explore the courses currently we offer by following the link at the bottom of the page.

Prerequisites

Students enrolling in the PGDipSc (Philosophy) will normally have completed a BSc and have passed 56 points or more of 300-level Philosophy.

Complete regulations for the degree are in the University Calendar.

Right and wrong. What is the difference?

The Graduate Diploma in Ethics takes students to a deeper understanding of fundamental moral concepts and issues. Is euthanasia wrong? What about genetic engineering? Who should have priority in the distribution of scarce medical resources? Should society allow ‘designer babies’? When is medical research on people unethical? Is abortion wrong? Do we have moral obligations towards the environment? Are consequences the only thing that matters when taking a moral decision? Does evolutionary theory show that there is no right or wrong? What is a just society? Should doctors ever lie?

More information

For further information about the Graduate Diploma in Ethics contact Carolyn Mason.

Master of Arts (MA)

The MA degree consists of two parts. Part I is composed of eight courses chosen from among PHIL 413-474 (not all courses are offered every year). Courses are chosen in consultation with the Graduate Studies Coordinator. Successful completion of Part I allows the student to begin Part II, the thesis (PHIL690). Follow the link below for the full list of graduate courses offered in Philosophy.

The MA normally takes two years to complete, the first year being devoted to course work and the second to completion of the thesis. The thesis should not normally exceed 30,000 words in length. There is not normally an oral examination. It is possible to study for the MA part time. Part-time students must complete Part II (the thesis) within 4 years of enrolling for PHIL 690.

Prerequisites

Prospective MA students must normally hold a Bachelors Degree (BA or BSc) including 56 points in philosophy at 300 level, and at least a B-grade (or equivalent) in philosophy courses at Stage 3.

International students should in the first instance, contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator to discuss the proposed course of study, and then must apply for admission. Contact the International Relations Office for more information.

The MA by thesis only

Students holding a BA(Hons) (or equivalent) may enter directly into Part II of the MA degree. Normally the MA by thesis only takes 1 year to complete. The thesis should not normally exceed 30,000 words in length.

Master of Science (MSc)

The MSc degree consists of two parts. Part I is composed of eight 400-level courses chosen in consultation with the Graduate Studies Coordinator. Successful completion of Part I allows the student to begin Part II, the thesis (PHIL 695).

The MSc normally takes two years, the first year being course work and the second a thesis. The thesis should not normally exceed 30,000 words. It is possible to study for the MSc part time. Part-time students must complete Part II (the thesis) within four years of enrolment.

Prerequisites

Prospective MSc students must normally hold a Bachelor of Science Degree including 56 points in philosophy at the 300 level, and at least a B-grade (or equivalent) in courses at Stage 3.

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

The PhD degree is comprised of an advanced course of study and research whose results are presented in a thesis. The thesis is examined by at least three examiners, at least one of whom is external to the University of Canterbury. There is also an oral exam. There is no coursework requirement.

The normal period for completing the PhD is three years. One may enrol as a part-time candidate with approval from the Academic Board. Part-time students are expected to spend a continuous period of at least six months in full-time study at some point during their enrolment. Regardless of whether they are studying full or part time, candidates are normally expected to spend at least 18 months in residence at Canterbury.

Upon enrolment the student spends no more than six months preparing a detailed research proposal in close consultation with the intended thesis supervisor. Once this proposal is accepted by the Head of Department and the Academic Board the proposal shall be formally registered. Upon approval of the research proposal a Supervisor and normally one or more Associate Supervisors and/or a Supervisory committee will be appointed to oversee the candidate's research.

PhD candidates are encouraged to work in the department as tutors (teaching assistants).

Prerequisites

Prospective students must normally hold one of:

  • a Bachelors degree with first or second class honours (a BA(Hons), a BSc(Hons), a four year BA or BSc with an average equivalent to first or second class honours, or equivalent).
  • a Masters degree at the standard of first or second class honours (an MA or MSc with an average equivalent to first or second class honours, or equivalent).

The prerequisite does not have to be in Philosophy, but the Academic Board and the department must be satisfied that the student has sufficient background to complete the proposed course of study.

Find out more

Complete regulations for these degree may be found in the University Calendar. Visit the College of Arts webpage for more information about postgraduate study at UC.

Philosophy can be successfully combined with many other courses of study.

Philosophy and Cognitive Science

Cognitive science involves research into the nature of minds and intelligence by people working within the fields of philosophy, psychology, artificial intelligence, linguistics, neuroscience, anthropology, and computer science. While other fields focus on experimental research into the nature of the mind, philosophy is concerned with more theoretical questions, about human, animal and artificial cognition.

Undergraduate courses on offer with the Philosophy Department's programme in Cognitive Science and Philosophy of Mind include PHIL235 Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life. Other courses that can be taken as a part of the cognitive science programme are PHIL110 Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus, Phil132 God, Mind, and Freedom, Phil133 Philosophy and Human Nature, PHIL233 Epistemology and Metaphysics, PHIL208 The Brain Gym: An Introduction to Logic, PHIL251 Semantics, PHIL308 Logic A, and PHIL305 Paradoxes. At the postgraduate level courses in cognitive science include PHIL 453/454 Cognitive Science, PHIL463 Contemporary Philosophy A, and PHIL444 Philosophical Logic. (Please note that not all of these courses are on offer in any one year.)

Philosophers at the University of Canterbury are actively involved in research in many areas of cognitive science, including, among others, artificial intelligence, the history and philosophy of computing, evolutionary psychology, psychology of religion, philosophical psychology, and computational models of mind. Students interested in graduate research in any area of cognitive science should contact the Graduate Studies Co-ordinator.

Philosophy and the Sciences

All of the philosophers at the University of Canterbury have experience in the sciences as well as in philosophy; many have degrees in science as well as philosophy, and all have worked, taught or carried out research within various scientific fields.

Most courses on offer from Philosophy can be taken as part of a BSc as well as a BA, but a number of courses are particularly relevant to science students. Undergraduate courses on offer for students with an interest in science include PHIL110 Science: Good, Bad, and Bogus, Phil133 Philosophy and Human Nature, PHIL229 Philosophy of Religion: Rationality, Science, and the God Hypothesis, PHIL233 Epistemology and Metaphysics, PHIL 235 Cyberspace, Cyborgs, and the Meaning of Life, PHIL240 Bioethics: Life, Death, and Medicine, PHIL305 Paradoxes, PHIL310 Early Modern Philosophy, and PHIL318 Philosophy of Religion: Rationality, Science, and the God Hypothesis. At the postgraduate level courses with a combined focus on philosophy and science include PHIL434 Bioethics B, PHIL444 Philosophical Logic, PHIL 453/454 Cognitive Science, and PHIL456 Philosophy of Science. (Please note that not all of these courses are on offer in any one year.)

Graduate students who are interested in working towards an MA, MSc, or PhD that combines an interest in philosophy and any of the sciences should contact either the Graduate Studies Co-ordinator.

Philosophy and Mathematics

The University of Canterbury offers several degree programmes in Mathematics & Philosophy. The flagship BSc(Hons) Mathematics & Philosophy programme is designed to produce honours graduates in mathematics with a substantial background in philosophy and an awareness of the connections between the two fields. There are also routes through Mathematics & Philosophy to double-major BA or BSc or to the double BA-BSc degrees. The intellectual training given by this combination of disciplines noted for their rigour will not only prepare graduates for postgraduate research in the philosophy and foundations of mathematics but also make them attractive to employers who value the ability to think and argue clearly.

The interaction between Mathematics and Philosophy in the past 150 years has been far greater than at any previous time. Especially from 1907 to 1931 there was a serious, at times acrimonious philosophical debate among leading mathematicians, about the nature and practice of mathematics. In 1931, Kurt Gödel published two dramatic theorems that, by clearly pointing out the limitations of formal mathematics, revolutionised thinking about logic and the foundations of mathematics. Not long after that, the work of Turing and others opened up logical and philosophical questions about computability and the nature of the human mind. In the last fifty years, mathematical logic has had a surprising impact on areas such as analysis, where it has been shown that certain natural objects can be proved to exist only if we add, to the normal axioms of set theory, otherwise unmotivated, and provably independent, hypotheses.

Philosophy and Politics

Studying philosophy and politics will help you to think about the philosophical foundations of government and relations between government and individuals.

Relevant courses in the Philosophy Programme include PHIL139 Ethics, Politics, and Justice which introduces basic moral theories and arguments and then examines moral justifications for government, arguments for and against democracy, and arguments about individual freedom; PHIL236 Ethics, PHIL239 (=POLS201) Classics in Political Philosophy. PHIL317 Contemporary Political Philosophy addresses arguments about markets and distributive justice.

Other programmes offer papers which combine well with the philosophy courses above. In Political Science , there is POLS102 Introduction to Political Science, POLS106 Political and Social Philosophy, and POLS207 Democracy, Technology, and Power. In the Law School, there is LAWS301 Jurisprudence, which examines concepts of law, justice, and authority. In Maori there is MAOR113 The Treaty of Waitangi in New Zealand Society.

If interested in combining philosophy and politics, contact Derek Browne for more information.

International students should contact the Graduate Studies Coordinator to discuss their proposed course of study, and then must apply for admission ad eundem statum according to the proceedures described in the University Information for International Students.

A number of scholarships are available to students of Philosophy.

  • Margaret Mahy Fees Scholarship - Established in 1995 by Dr Margaret Mahy, this $4,500 scholarship shall be awarded to a student enrolling for an Arts or Science degree. It will be tenable only by a candidate who during the tenure of the award pursues a full-time B.A. or B.Sc. course of study at the University of Canterbury including at least 45 points in Philosophy at the 200 Level.
  • David Novitz Prize - Associate Professor David Novitz taught Philosophy and Religious Studies at UC from 1971 until his untimely death in 2001. Based on performance in undergraduate Philosophy courses, this prize is awarded in the beginning of Honours year to the most promising student enrolled for a BA(Hons) or MA(Hons) in Philosophy that year.

Use the links below to help search the Scholarships database.

You might also be eligible for:

Undergraduate students who wish to discuss courses or their plan of study can email or meet with the Undergraduate Coordinator. Postgraduate students should contact the Honours and Postgraduate Coordinator for more information.

Michael-John Turp

Lecturer
Library Liaison
Karl Popper 603
Internal Phone: 94396

Diane Proudfoot

Professor
Honours & Postgraduate Co-ordinator
Karl Popper 601A
Internal Phone: 95376

Students with disabilities

Philosophy is sympathetic to the needs of students with disabilities. If you have a disability that creates problems with your study in any way, do not hesitate to speak to staff about it.

The School's contact for students with disabilities is Diane Proudfoot. Further information and assistance is available from the Disability Support Service.

More information

See the Course Information website for more details about studying Philosophy.

Explore the full list of courses offered in

Philosophy