Philosophy overview

Discover what you'll learn if you study Philosophy at Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington.

Eight people pose next to wooden bannister
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 Te Herenga Waka—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 should I come here to study Philosophy?

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.

Watch our presentation

Download a presentation prepared by Professor Simon Keller and Associate Professor Justin Sytsma about how and why to study Philosophy at Te Herenga Waka—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. At postgraduate level, Philosophy is offered within the BA(Hons), MA and PhD degrees.

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.

What can I do with a qualification in Philosophy?

Philosophy graduates find employment in a wide variety of fields. Our Philosophy programme 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

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
To receive regular updates join our Facebook group “Victoria Women in Philosophy Group”.

Philosophy graduate profile

Students who complete the Philosophy major at Te Herenga Waka—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.