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Undergraduate Programs in Philosophy

Submitted by Anonymous on Thu, 02/08/2007 - 1:22pm

What is philosophy?

Philosophy asks fundamental questions about ourselves and the world:  "Is the mind distinct from the body?"  "Are values objective or just projections of our feelings?"  "Is there a God?"  "Can I know that there is a world outside my mind?"  These are the sorts of questions that philosophers pursue.  As an academic discipline, philosophy is commonly subdivided into areas such as ethics and political philosophy, aesthetics, epistemology (the theory of knowledge), metaphysics (the theory of reality or being), logic and the philosophy of logic, philosophy of language, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, philosophy of religion, and the history of philosophy.  Much of what was once considered a part of philosophy is now studied in several disciplines of the natural and social sciences.  Indeed the history of philosophy is in many ways the history of Western thought.

What could I do with a philosophy degree?

In view of their wide range of skills, philosophy graduates pursue careers in business, law, the arts, and politics.  Studies have found that philosophy majors achieve the best overall performance of all undergraduates in admission tests for graduate programs in law, medicine, business, journalism, government, and the arts.  Students majoring in philosophy often rank in the top three of all those taking the LSAT, GRE, and GMAT tests.  In the GRE verbal tests they regularly rank first, and in the GRE quantitative tests they regularly rank highest of all humanities and social science disciplines.  Philosophy majors do well on these tests because their discipline involves formal reasoning about abstract concepts; they also excel on tests of communication skills because it requires clarity and accuracy in writing and interpretation.  The combination of abstract reasoning and direct expression gives philosophy majors a comprehensive package of intellectual abilities.

What does a philosophy degree at UCalgary involve?

Philosophy majors complete the majority of their philosophy courses at the upper level (400 and 500 courses) where they can expect to learn the skills of a professional philosopher in discussion-style classes that focus on central issues or key philosophical figures.  While there are no fixed breadth requirements at this level, and students may choose philosophy courses to suit their interests, they are encouraged to take a mix of courses from the various areas of philosophy and from both historical and contemporary areas.  Students also take, usually in their second year, an intense writing and reading course designed to prepare them for the upper level classes.  Beyond the major field, students will complement their philosophy program with courses in other disciplines.


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