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Doctor of Philosophy

Jack Copeland, Philosophy

Distinguished Professor Jack Copeland, School of Humanities and Creative Arts: 2015 Winner of the Covey Award by the International Association for Computing and Philosophy; Co-Director of the UC Turing Archive for the History of Computing; author of Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Code-Breaking Computers.


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.

Why study Philosophy at UC?

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.

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.

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. No special academic background is therefore required.


See all Philosophy courses

100-level courses

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.

200-level and beyond

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.

Career opportunities

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.

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 information

Department of Philosophy

Phone +64 3 369 3377

6th floor, Karl Popper building - see campus maps

Postal address
College of Arts | Te Rāngai Toi Tangata
University of Canterbury | Te Whare Wānanga o Waitaha
Private Bag 4800
Christchurch 8140
New Zealand

Joshua Leota

Joshua Leota

'It’s quite confronting when you start to learn about how your mind works...'

Rory Collins

Rory Collins

'The courses on offer at UC are extremely diverse and allow for students to research whatever niche they’re into...'