Philosophy Society, history and languages

Philosophy Society, history and languages

What is the human mind? Do we have free will? What is race and does it matter? Philosophy asks, and seeks answers to, fundamental questions about human life and enquiry.

At Macquarie you’ll develop critical thinking and reasoning skills in one of the top Philosophy departments in Australasia. Philosophical knowledge and skills prepare you for a wide range of careers.


Postgraduate Courses


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Postgraduate Courses


Sorry, this course information is currently unavailable.

Careers in philosophy

  • advocacy and welfare officer
  • business administrator
  • business ethics consultant
  • communications assistant
  • entrepreneur
  • journalist
  • lawyer (with further study)
  • lobbyist
  • media producer
  • mediator
  • policy consultant
  • politician
  • recruiter
  • social media coordinator
  • social or market researcher

Professional experience

At Macquarie, learning doesn't just happen in the classroom. Our unique PACE program provides real-world industry experience locally, regionally, internationally so you can get ahead in the career queue.

Through PACE, study a range of philosophical texts that open your eyes to how your studies in philosophy have prepared you for further study and work. Explore how the skills and values you've developed, creative thought, critical thinking, problem solving and intellectual humility, can be used in the workplace to make change in the world.

No matter what you decide to study at Macquarie, PACE has an opportunity available for you. Learn more about the opportunities available through PACE.

Our expertise in philosophy

Dr Jennifer Duke-Yonge

Dr Jennifer Duke-Yonge


Jennifer is a highly awarded and well respected academic who has recently received a prestigious national award for outstanding contributions to student learning by the Australian Learning and Teaching Council. She worked in Philosophy at Macquarie in a number of roles, mainly on the development and teaching of Critical Thinking, before joining the Department of Philosophy in her current position in 2004. She teaches in areas such as critical thinking, formal logic and epistemology.

"The study of Philosophy, and study in the Faculty of Arts generally, challenges students to open themselves to new ideas. One of the most rewarding things about teaching at Macquarie is seeing our students meet that challenge: developing a commitment to knowledge and really engaging with the process of learning."

See Dr Duke-Yonge's full profile

Macquarie University Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics

The Macquarie University Centre for Agency, Values and Ethics (CAVE) provides a platform for interaction and collaboration between researchers in philosophy, psychology, cognitive science, law, medicine, applied ethics and bioethics. A distinctive feature is its focus upon the philosophical, ethical and legal issues raised by the cognitive neurosciences.

Learn more about CAVE

Study philosophy at Macquarie 

Philosophy at Macquarie encompasses a diversity of philosophical approaches which equip students with a range of analytical and creative skills. All our teaching, whether in traditional face-to-face or distance modes, is informed by a commitment to create positive learning environments in which students can become aware of and develop their talents for philosophy.

By studying philosophy at Macquarie you will gain:

  • Knowledge: Understanding of some central concepts, theories and arguments in many philosophical traditions and fields of inquiry
  • Skills: Critical thinking and reasoning skills, problem solving skills, creative skills, and communication skills
  • Philosophical values, and social and ethical values

What is philosophy?

Philosophy is both a subject and a way of thinking.

As a subject, philosophy asks, and seeks to answer, fundamental questions about many areas of human life and inquiry. These include questions about the relationship between the mind and the body; the existence of God; the nature of human fulfilment and alienation; the status of moral beliefs and aesthetic judgements; the nature of knowledge; and the relationship between the world and our concepts and modes of reasoning.

Philosophers are also concerned with contemporary social and political issues, such as:

  • economic inequality
  • the environmental crisis
  • gender relations
  • animal welfare
  • Indigenous rights

As a way of thinking, philosophy puts an emphasis on thinking for yourself rather than relying on someone else’s authority. By studying philosophy, you learn how to think for yourself better: to reflect on your views, to give reasons for them, and to understand and evaluate other positions and arguments. The kind of thinking developed by the study of philosophy is important in many different professional contexts, which is why philosophy graduates enjoy good employability.

Philosophy Major

Through the Major in Philosophy students will become skilled in the art of philosophical questioning, the construction of philosophical arguments, and the evaluation of philosophical beliefs. Students will be able to choose from a wide variety of courses that cover a plurality of internationally relevant philosophical traditions and fields of enquiry, including logic, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, phenomenology and existential philosophy, aesthetics, social philosophy, ethics and applied ethics. The Philosophy major will develop creative thinking, communication and problem-solving skills which are invaluable in all professions today.

Philosophy Minor and Philosophy Electives

A 'Minor' is 12 distinct credit points from an approved Major, including 6 distinct credit points at 300-level. A Minor is an excellent way of completing your Major area of study with an interesting and useful program of study.

Many of our students take Philosophy units in order to help them excel in other areas of specialisation. Studying philosophy enhances your critical thinking skills, your ability to analyse and construct arguments, your ability to comprehend complex ideas, and your capacity to communicate clearly and persuasively.

Here are some suggestions for Minors in Philosophy that are compatible with Majors in other disciplines: Psychology Major with a Minor in Philosophy; Law Major with a Minor in Philosophy; Science/Computing Major with a Minor in Philosophy; Sociology Major with a Minor in Philosophy; Education Major with a Minor in Philosophy.

You can study individual Philosophy units without taking the major or minor in Philosophy. Many students simply take one or two Philosophy units to complement the rest of their degree. For example, our units in social philosophy and ethics go well with units in law, politics and economics; our units in logic and philosophy of language go well with units in computing and mathematics.

You will be able to choose from a wide variety of courses that cover a plurality of internationally relevant philosophical traditions and fields of enquiry, including logic, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion, phenomenology and existential philosophy, aesthetics, social philosophy, ethics and applied ethics. The Philosophy major will develop creative thinking, communication and problem-solving skills which are invaluable in all professions today.

Awarded a Future Fellowship in the latest rounds of ARC grants, Professor Rogers' research project will develop an account of disease that can help to distinguish risk factors from disease, provide ethical reasons for screening or not screening, and be useful in addressing the problems of overdiagnosis.

Overdiagnosis refers to a range of healthcare activities or interventions which end up harming rather than helping patients. Overdiagnosis arises in a number of ways, such as when the definitions of disease are widened, when harmless or clinically insignificant lesions are diagnosed or treated,or when screening identifies harmless as well as progressive cancers.

"Apart from causing harm to patients who are diagnosed with conditions that, if left undiagnosed, would cause them no harm, overdiagnosis increases health care costs and diverts healthcare resources away from the treatment of diseases with significant morbidity and mortality. Thus overdiagnosis is a problem, not only for individual patients who may be harmed, but also for healthcare providers and policy makers." says Professor Rogers.

Trained as a general practitioner before undertaking philosophy honours and a PhD in medical ethics,this research project continues to combine Professor Rogers' passion for medicine and ethics.

"One of the drivers for overdiagnosis is the lack of an account of disease that will ground distinctions between normal or healthy, abnormal or increased risk, and presence of disease. Philosophy can help with this kind of definitional work." explains Professor Rogers.

She is currently working on taxonomy of overdiagnosis, examining the different ways in which it arises, and the various ethical issues that these entail. She has already presented the work at the University of Sydney, the Australian Catholic University, and Medical Grand Rounds at St Vincent's hospital. In September she will be leading a booked out workshop at the international Preventing Overdiagnosis conference at Oxford University.

Why did you decide to undertake postgraduate studies in research?
As part of my postgraduate studies at Macquarie I took some research units. I discovered that I really enjoyed the research process and decided I would like to undertake a larger research project. The MRes offers a chance for students to engage in a year-long independent research project, with the support and guidance of a network of expert advisers. It seemed like a great way for me to test the research waters.

Why did you choose Macquarie University for your studies?
I decided to study the MRes at Macquarie for several reasons. I completed both my undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the University. Macquarie’s interdisciplinary approach really appeals to me, particularly as my own interests span across some very different disciplines. It offers a lot of flexibility to its students in terms of what and how they study. I also liked that Macquarie provides a really diverse learning environment, with students and staff from across the world bringing varied perspectives and experiences. This international dimension has really enriched my own study experience.

What are some highlights about studying the Bachelor of Philosophy/Master of Research that you would like to share with prospective students?
The MRes lets you investigate a topic you are really passionate about – in my case ethical eating. My research project used a food justice conceptual framework to investigate how ethical food movements are evolving in the Australian context. It examined what ethical eating means, what tensions and obstacles need to be resolved or overcome, and what enabling conditions might assist in expanding ethical food movements.

It is really satisfying to produce an extended piece of writing that is the culmination of the work you’ve done over the year and that contributes something to the field of knowledge you are interested in. I’ve also loved being able to meet and collaborate with other researchers.

How has what you learnt in your postgraduate studies helped you in your work and to achieve your professional goals?
Undertaking an MRes has helped equip me for any future academic or professional research opportunities. It has exposed me to a range of new ideas and research methodologies and allowed me to expand my research skillset and experience base. I’d like to undertake a PhD in the future and I now feel much better prepared to do so. I would highly recommend the MRes to any student interested in research.

The Bachelor of Philosophy/Master of Research (BPhil/MRes) is a unique combination of advanced coursework and research training. This research training pathway replaces most honours as the main pathway to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) and Master of Philosophy (MPhil), and is consistent with the well-known ‘Bologna model’.

Our top subject areas are:

Subject area
QS - World
QS - Aus & NZ
English language and literature
Communication and media studies

Macquarie University is amongst the world's elite institutions in 21 of the 36 subjects featured in this year's QS World University Rankings by Subject. QS evaluated 3,551 universities, qualified 2,186 and ranked 894 institutions in total. Over 100 million citations attributions were analysed and QS verified the provision of over 14,000 programs.

The methodology combines analysis from QS Global Employer and Academic Surveys with bibliometric data from Elsevier's Scopus database.

As the nature of the workplace changed in the last decade, so has the skill set demanded by employers.

"Skills that commanded a premium yesterday are no longer so valuable today. Organisations now need people who can operate in multiple dimensions, who have the ability to analyse information, prioritise and communicate with stakeholders. These sophisticated 'soft skills' are among the hardest to measure but ultimately can deliver the greatest value," states the 2012 Hudson Report.

We are seeing employers becoming more aware of the value in creating an employee base that has a good mix of both technically educated employees and broadly educated employees.

An interesting example of this is where one of the largest producers of semiconductors in the world employs an anthropologist as their Director of User Experience Research. Overseeing a team of social scientists and designers who travel the world, observing how people use technology in their lives, the team's findings help inform the company's product development process. The ability to interpret the market and identify the emerging signals and what is going to matter to the end user takes a special skill set recognised in the field of anthropology.

The Arts advantage

Amongst the many benefits of studying an Arts degree such as expanding your knowledge base across several subjects, a key benefit is developing skills sought by employers such as learning to effectively write and communicate, teamwork, problem-solving, critical thinking and independent judgement.

Graduate Careers Australia in their 2013 Graduate Outlook Report ranked the most important selection criteria across several industries when recruiting graduates. The results in the table below show that 2 out of the top 3 selection criteria are developed when studying Arts: interpersonal and communication skills (written and oral); and critical reasoning and analytical skills/problem solving/lateral thinking/technical skills.

Throughout their university education, Arts students develop many skills sought after by employers including:

  • Ability to perform research: The ability to find information and analyse and assess its quality is seen as an asset.
  • Interpersonal skills: The ability to collaborate and communicate effectively within a team is highly valued and something Arts students learn as a part of their studies.
  • Creativity: Being able to think outside the box and see the big picture and apply this to the problem-solving process can set an Arts graduate apart from graduates in other fields.
  • Critical thinking and analysis: Being able to think objectively by looking at things from different angles and to question what has been presented as fact to ensure true conclusions are formed, is a greatly valued skill.
  • Effective communication: An Arts degree supports a student in becoming a skilful writer and presenter, and this ability is valued across most careers.

With this mix of skills, the Arts graduate can support their employer in responding to today's global, social, cultural and economic challenges along with their specialist knowledge of the people, societies and cultures that underline these challenges.

Accepting her honorary doctorate from Macquarie University, actor Cate Blanchett addressed the graduands in the Faculty of Arts and Faculty of Human Sciences graduation ceremonies held 25th September 2014. She talked about the arts as "the driver of innovation and exploration."

Blanchett said, "A culture that supports change, adaptation, experimentation, is the only way that a scientist can find the mental space to explore and innovate. A culture that is reduced and closed and inhibited will never result in innovation and exploration, and it will never produce truly great scientists. So you can see it is the cultural space that is the vital ingredient here."

"The arts are what we stay alive for, what we work all week for, what we dream about, what connects us, and indeed, what some would say makes us human."

Macquarie University presented Blanchett with a Doctor of Letters honoris causa award in recognition of her extraordinary contribution to the arts, philanthropy, and the community.

In her career across stage and screen, Blanchett has received numerous film and theatre awards including two Academy Awards, three Baftas and three Golden Globe awards. She has also been awarded the Centenary Medal for Service to Australian Society through Acting, and the Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Minister for Culture. She served as Co-Artistic Director and CEO of the Sydney Theatre Company from 2008-2013, alongside Andrew Upton.

A Patron of the Sydney Film Festival, Blanchett is also an Ambassador for the Australian Conservation Foundation and the Australian Film Institute.

Cate Blanchett encouraged the graduands to discover their passion and be open to opportunities, as she did throughout her career.

She said, "The interconnectedness of all these many disciplines reach into the very nook and cranny of our lives on this planet, and the journeys that they take you, and by implication, our society on, are many and varied."

"My journey thus far, and I hope it continues, looks on paper, random. And indeed being open to randomness, to chance, to variety, and therefore to opportunity has been a vital tool in my own personal creative tool kit."

"But on a deeper level, it hasn't been random at all, because it's held together by my passion and my beliefs. Whatever your area of pursuit, as they change and evolve, these are without doubt the most vital ingredients of all. Discover those and you're truly on your way."

Blanchett closed her address with a quote from educationalist Ken Robinson: "Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value. It is a process, it is not random. You can be creative in anything - maths, science, engineering, philosophy, as much as you can in music, painting or dance.

"Creativity is putting your imagination to work and it has produced the most extraordinary results in human culture."

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