This website does readability filtering of other pages. All styles, scripts, forms and ads are stripped. If you want your website excluded or have other feedback, use this form.

Philosophy | School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations | Victoria University of Wellington

School of History, Philosophy, Political Science and International Relations Te Kura Aro Whakamuri, Rapunga Whakaaro, Matai Tōrangapū me te Ao

Philosophy overview

A warm welcome from all of us in the Philosophy Programme (left to right front row), Richard Joyce, Justin Sytsma, Simon Keller, Nick Agar, Ed Mares, back row, Ramon Das, Sondra Bacharach, Cei Maslen. The Philosophy programme at Victoria University of Wellington offers thought-provoking courses on the nature of reality and the mind, on ethical and artistic value, on what knowledge is, on the structure of logical arguments, and even on the meaning of life. Some of our courses are of particular interest to students studying psychology, politics, law, science, or media studies.

Philosophy students develop critical thinking skills—they learn to analyse arguments, write clearly, solve problems, and think creatively. These add value to other areas of study and are skills that are sought after by employers.

Why study Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington?

Philosophers explore the nature of argument and justification and examine the rational basis of belief in all areas of enquiry. Philosophers seek to answer questions like “What things exist?”, “Is there a single truth about what's right and wrong?”, “What can we know for sure?”, and "Is there a god?"

The literal meaning of the word ‘philosopher’ is ‘lover of wisdom’. However, Philosophy is also about the love of critical and creative thinking, intelligent discussion, and cogent argument. These are skills that can be applied to almost any issue in almost any context.

Download a presentation prepared by Prof Simon Keller and AProf Justin Sytsma about how and why to study Philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington

Philosophy courses are an important component of any degree from the University. Since creative, critical, and cogent thinking is fundamental to every subject, the concepts and methods of contemporary philosophy can be useful for students majoring in most other fields. Philosophy gives you a competitive academic edge and enhances the overall quality of your degree.

The Philosophy programme at the University has strong links to other disciplines outside the School, including connections with computing and mathematics through logic; with science through the philosophy of biology, and ethics and genetics; and with art and art history through the philosophy of art.

Philosophy staff at the University are engaged in research across a large range of topics within philosophy. We have particular strengths in logic, ethics, metaphysics, aesthetics, and philosophy of biology. Logic is reflected in Philosophy postgraduate offerings—BA(Hons), MA and PhD degrees in Logic, or Logic and Computation.

What can I do with a qualification in Philosophy?

Philosophy graduates find employment in a wide variety of fields. The Philosophy programme at Victoria University of Wellington has had an excellent employment and placement record over the years and people interested in learning about the potential for their philosophy qualification should refer to the Philosophy Career View.


Programme Research Seminars are held regularly during teaching periods. Postgraduate Philosophy students are expected to attend this staff seminar series.

Postgraduate students are also expected to attend the student seminar series, which is run by the students themselves. All PhD and MA students must make a work-in-progress presentation. To find out more about our current postgraduate students check out our student profiles page.


Tutoring or marking work is often available for Philosophy MA and PhD students. An application form can be requested from [email protected].

Women in Philosophy

The Victoria Women in Philosophy group is an organisation whose goal is to raise awareness and address the under-representation of women in philosophy. We hope to contribute to creating an academic culture in which all those interested in philosophy, irrespective of gender, can flourish. We strongly support the following goals:

  • attracting and retaining of women in philosophy
  • raising awareness of implicit gender bias and stereotype threat
  • ensuring fair representation of women philosophers on syllabi
  • increasing visibility of women in philosophy
  • ensuring greater equality in number of female speakers at workshops, seminars and conferences
  • providing support to our University female philosophy students with regards to any gender issues they may encounter.

To ask a question or raise an issue, email us on [email protected]
To receive regular updates join our Facebook group “Victoria Women in Philosophy Group”.

Philosophy graduate profile

Students who complete the Philosophy major at Victoria University of Wellington will have:

  • an understanding of the ethics of scholarship
  • a specialised understanding of philosophy (including its distinctive methods, questions, contribution, context and debates
  • an ability to think logically and critically in a wide variety of contexts using established methods of formal or informal logic
  • an ability to analyse or elucidate complex ideas and concepts and to define them clearly and precisely
  • an understanding of the various kinds of value, and an ability to make rational and ethical decisions in personal and professional contexts, and as an engaged citizen
  • an ability to articulate original and useful philosophical theses or to provide original arguments in support of contentious philosophical theses
  • an ability to engage in original and ethical research in philosophy under close supervision.