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Major: Philosophy

Major Details



Department of Philosophy
Faculty of Arts

This major must be completed as part of an award. The general requirements for the award must be satisfied in order to graduate.

Requirements for the Major:

Completion of a minimum of 24 credit points including the following prescribed units:

Credit points

100 level

3cp from
Mind and World (3)
Happiness, Goodness and Justice (3)
Formal Logic (3)
Critical Thinking (3)

200 level

3cp from
Ethical Theory (3)
Practical Ethics (3)
Bioethics and Biotechnology (3)
Business and Professional Ethics (3)
The Moral Psychology of Good and Evil (3)
3cp from
Existential Questions (3)
Philosophy of Religion (3)
Philosophy of Art and Literature (3)
Freedom and Domination (3)
3cp from
What is Science (3)
Evolution, Mind and Culture (3)
Knowledge and its Limits (3)
Body and Mind (3)
Philosophy of Language (3)

300 level

Philosophy Capstone Unit (3)
3cp from
Action, Virtue and Character (3)
Theories of Justice (3)
Agency and the Self (3)
3cp from
Social Philosophy (3)
Work and the Good Life (3)
Film and Philosophy (3)
3cp from
Metaphysics (3)
Pragmatism (3)
Philosophy and Cognitive Science (3)
The Philosophy of Race and Identity (3)


Units marked with a C are Capstone units.
Units marked with a P are PACE units.
Additional Information
Overview and Aims of the Program Philosophy seeks to answer fundamental questions about human life and inquiry, and to do so using rigorous methods of argument and reasoning. In the philosophy major, you will learn to use these methods and reasoning skills for yourself, applying them to questions such as:
• Does the mind extend beyond the brain?
• Are we ever really free to choose?
• What is the good life?
• Does God exist?
• What would a better society look like?
• Do animals have rights?
• Do films or novels help us to think better?
• What is truth?
• What is knowledge?

You will also learn to apply these skills to contemporary social and political issues, such as the environmental crisis, economic inequality, gender relations, immigration and asylum, and indigenous rights.

The philosophy major at Macquarie also emphasises intellectual and philosophical breadth. You will study philosophy in one of the most pluralist departments in Australia, taking specialist courses from the three core areas of contemporary philosophy represented by our three specialist subject streams – the Normative and Applied Ethics stream; the European Philosophy stream; and the Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics stream.
Graduate Capabilities

The Graduate Capabilities Framework articulates the fundamentals that underpin all of Macquarie’s academic programs. It expresses these as follows:

Cognitive capabilities
(K) discipline specific knowledge and skills
(T) critical, analytical and integrative thinking
(P) problem solving and research capability
(I) creative and innovative

Interpersonal or social capabilities
(C) effective communication
(E) engaged and ethical local and global citizens
(A) socially and environmentally active and responsible

Personal capabilities
(J) capable of professional and personal judgement and initiative
(L) commitment to continuous learning

Program Learning Outcomes By the end of this program it is anticipated you should be able to:

1. identify and characterise core questions, concepts and ideas from across the breadth of the three philosophical streams represented in the program – Normative and Applied Ethics; European Philosophy; Mind, Meaning and Metaphysics (K, T)

2. reconstruct philosophical ideas and questions, and define the key concepts and philosophical positions introduced across the three streams (K, T, C)
3. analyse and evaluate the philosophical idea and questions, and key concepts and philosophical positions from across the three streams by using the standards of sound argument and reasoning (K, T, C)
4. propose creative answers and insights to the core philosophical problems introduced from across the three streams by using high level reasoning and theoretical knowledge (K, T, P, C, I)
5. express with clarity and precision the philosophical ideas acquired and developed in the program through scholarly writing, debate, and high level discussion (K, T, C)

6. modify, adapt, and apply philosophical knowledge and skills to questions and problems from other areas of inquiry or practice (K, T, P, I, C, E, A, J, L)
7. reflect on feedback and identify opportunities for extending and applying the knowledge and skills acquired in the program (K, T, P, I, E, A, J, L).
Learning and Teaching Methods Throughout the Philosophy major, a range of learning and teaching methods are used to enable students to attain Unit Level and Program Level Learning Outcomes. Unit Level Learning Outcomes are aligned directly to Program Level Learning Outcomes, although articulated in terms of specific unit content. The key learning and teaching methods used are:
• Lectures: the traditional lecture format is used, especially in larger 100 Level units, to deliver primary content to students. The program, however, makes use of lecture recording (both visual and audio) through the Echo360 system, and ensure lectures are appropriately integrated into a Blended Learning environment. This ensures students have material they can revisit, and access non-contemporaneously with actual original “live” lecture.
• Tutorials: tutorials are used, using both physical and virtual spaces, throughout the program. They are used to allow students to work through problem cases, refine their understanding of core content, and to engage in critical debate and analysis. Tutor-led and Peer-led variations are both used.
• Seminar: seminars are used, mainly in upper level units, and often in conjunction with a “flipped class room” approach. This teaching method is used to refine and extend the role of critical debate and discussion in the philosophy program. Seminars can be teacher-led, but are used more often as a student-led forum where creative responses to philosophical questions (Learning Outcome 4) can be developed in a scaffolded environment.
• Reflection: self Reflection, and Peer reflection are used in certain units to enable students to assess the acquisition and further applicability of core knowledge and skills (Learning outcomes 6 and 7). Such reflective learning is often delivered as low stakes assessment, but its purpose is not assessment *of* learning, rather, it is assessment *for* learning.
• Diverse Range of Teaching Materials: the program also scaffolds the delivery of content with a range of materials in all of its units. The various teaching materials made available are intended to aid students in achieving the unit and program level outcomes. The provision of a range of content specific resources supports students in organising and navigating their own pathway through the program, and provides a rich and nuanced body of information to which they can return and re-engage throughout the course of their major. The primary materials and resources delivered are:
a. lecture content (in the form of notes, slides, lecture recordings, transcripts, etc.)
b. assigned readings
c. case studies
d. content specific games
e. text books
f. problem cases and problem sets
g. audiovisual and media examples.
Assessment The Philosophy major makes use of a variety of assessment techniques across its different units and levels. The objective within every unit is to provide: a mix of both formative and summative assessment types; assessments which measure learning, and assessments which contribute to learning; assessments which provide students with early and frequent means of judging how far their learning is helping them to achieve the learning outcomes of the unit, and by extension, the program. The major forms of assessment used are:
• Essays (Long and Short): Philosophy, especially at upper levels, employs essay based assessment. These are usually summative, but by encouraging philosophical reflection they also contribute to the learning process, rather than merely measure it. The longer form is more frequently used towards the end of the units, with the shorter form being used as an early or mid-point assessment, enabling a formative role too.
• Quizzes: quizzes are used more frequently in lower level units, and tend to summative. However, since they used more frequently as early assessments, they are used to give students a chance to reflect on early performance.
• Journals: journals are used most frequently in upper level units, with an emphasis on formative assessment. The process of reflection upon learning across the unit allows students to judge their own progress, the manner in which they have attained appropriate unit and program level outcomes, and how such attainments might be applied or extended.
• Self-Tests: in larger lower level units, “self-tests” are used. This form of assessment is entirely formative – it seldom makes a direct contribution to final grades, but does allow students to chart the extent of their understanding in a low stakes assessment setting.
• Peer Marking: peer marking is used in various units as a formative exercise which contributes to the process of learning. Rather than measure understanding, or knowledge, peer marking allows for reflection upon the various ways in which philosophical questions can be approached. The use of peer marking is not confined to particular levels.
• Reading Exercises: reading exercises are used in various units across different levels to provide a primarily formative assessment. They are short, low stakes, and recurring summaries of core texts or important contexts, that allow students and teachers to gage understanding. They also contribute to the development of a key philosophical outcomes relating to accurate expression of key ideas and theories.
• Research Projects: research based learning is often used as part of the assessment in upper level units. Research projects are used as the core of the major summative assessment for certain units, measuring student learning against unit level outcomes, and extending student understanding beyond the unit into applied settings.
• Tutorial/Seminar Participation: tutorial and seminar participation is a commonly used form of assessment in all units across all levels. Critical debate, and clear verbal expression are key elements of the philosophical major and it plays both a summative and formative assessment role in the program units.
Recognition of Prior Learning

Macquarie University may recognise prior formal, informal and non-formal learning for the purpose of granting credit towards, or admission into, a program. The recognition of these forms of learning is enabled by the University’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) Policy (see and its associated Procedures and Guidelines. The RPL pages contain information on how to apply, links to registers, and the approval processes for recognising prior learning for entry or credit. 

Domestic Students
For undergraduate RPL information visit
For domestic postgraduate RPL information visit

International Students
For RPL information visit

Support for Learning

Macquarie University aspires to be an inclusive and supportive community of learners where all students are given the opportunity to meet their academic and personal goals. The University offers a comprehensive range of free and accessible student support services which include academic advice, counselling and psychological services, advocacy services and welfare advice, careers and employment, disability services and academic skills workshops amongst others. There is also a bulk billing medical service located on campus.

Further information can be found at

Campus Wellbeing contact details:
Phone: +61 2 9850 7497

Program Standards and Quality

The program is subject to an ongoing comprehensive process of quality review in accordance with a pre-determined schedule that complies with the Higher Education Standards Framework. The review is overseen by Macquarie University's peak academic governance body, the Academic Senate and takes into account feedback received from students, staff and external stakeholders.

Graduate Destinations and Employability This major will equip you with high-level reasoning skills, the ability to apply abstract knowledge to practical problem solving, and high-level communication skills. Employers will value your written and verbal communication skills, your ability to analyse and explain difficult concepts and arguments, your problem solving skills , as well as your ability to synthesise diverse information concisely. Because these skills are so central to many different fields and professions, philosophy majors are in demand across the range of private, public and not-for-profit sectors. Philosophy graduates can be found in fields as diverse as Government, Law, Business, the Media, Advertising, Research, and Education. The wide transferability of the philosophy major's skill-set leads to many possible employment pathways after graduation.
Assessment Regulations

This program is subject to Macquarie University regulations, including but not limited to those specified in the Assessment Policy, Academic Honesty Policy, the Final Examination Policy and relevant University Rules. For all approved University policies, procedures, guidelines and schedules visit

2017 Unit Information

When offered:
S1 Day
Permission of Executive Dean of Faculty
HSC Chinese, CHN113, CHN148