University of Sydney Handbooks - 2017 Archive

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The Department of Philosophy is part of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry (SOPHI).

About the major

Philosophy explores fundamental and important questions such as ‘What is consciousness?’, ‘Are we free agents?’, ‘What makes an action right or wrong?’, ‘How should we live?’, ‘What is truth?’ and ‘Can we reconcile the scientific picture of the world with our ordinary experience?’

Philosophy has a complex relationship to other disciplines: it draws on results from those disciplines and sometimes creates and then spins off whole new disciplines; but always, Philosophy formulates and explores questions that are of fundamental importance to us as human beings and which no other discipline is equipped to answer.

Philosophy is a very broad subject, and in a Philosophy major at Sydney you will have the opportunity to range widely across this subject and to dig deeply into particular issues that interest you.

Pathway through the major

A major in Philosophy requires at least 36 senior credit points in Philosophy including at least 6 credit points at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Philosophy. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You can find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

Junior units of study provide an overview of the major branches of the discipline, including metaphysics (the nature of reality), epistemology (the nature of knowledge), ethics, aesthetics, political philosophy and logic. You complete at least 12 junior credit points of Philosophy.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You can choose senior-intermediate (2000 level) units based on your own interests. These units allow you to look at more specific topics and develop a working understanding of philosophical methodology, including techniques of critical thinking and cogent argumentation. 2000 level units will introduce you to more detailed content in the various areas of philosophy. 2000 level units prepare you for 3000 level units by giving training in reading and understanding philosophical texts, identifying philosophical problems and assessing proposed answers to these problems, and identifying the various respects in which arguments can be good or bad and distinguishing good arguments from bad ones. You complete at least 12 credit points at 2000 level before enrolling in a 3000 level unit of study.

Senior-advanced (3000 level) units are also chosen based on your own interests and allow you to look further at specific topics. These units invite you to engage deeply in the relevant debates. Senior units continue to introduce more detailed content in the various areas of philosophy, and in these units, you will critically engage with philosophical texts, formulate philosophical problems and answers to these problems, and through this process gain a deep knowledge of the areas of philosophy covered by the units taken. You complete at least 6 credit points at 3000 level.


The requirement for entry to fourth year Honours is an average of 70 percent or above in 48 senior credit points of Philosophy.

Contact/further information

Information on our units of study and staff with whom to discuss the program is available at or by phoning the school office on +61 2 9351 2862.