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The BA Honours Degree in Philosophy

Submitted by nnreimer on Tue, 08/23/2016 - 5:11pm

Submitted by nnreimer on Tue, 08/23/2016 - 5:10pm

The BA Honours degree in Philosophy requires at least 10 full-course equivalents in Philosophy (and no more than 12).  It includes all the requirements for the BA degree in Philosophy and a course in intermediate logic (PHIL 379).  In addition, all Honours Program students must complete 2 courses at the 500 level:  PHIL 590 (the Honours Thesis Course) and PHIL 597 (the Honours Seminar).  PHIL 590 and 597 are the culmination of the Honours Program.  They offer the opportunity to work one-on-one with a professor in an area of your interest.

Summary of Requirements for the BA Honours Degree in Philosophy

  1. Logic:  One of Philosophy 279 or 377; and Philosophy 379.
  2. Majors Classes:  Both Philosophy 395 and Philosophy 397.
  3. Honours Thesis:  Philosophy 590
  4. Honours Seminar:  Philosophy 597
  5. Core Classes:  4.0 additional full-course equivalents in Philosophy at the 400 or 500 level.
  6. Other:  2.5 additional full-course equivalents in Philosophy

Students must choose their courses carefully in years one and two in order to ensure that they have the prerequisites for the 400/500 level courses.  Optimally, Philosophy majors should:

(a)  take either 201 or 249 in their first year

(b)  take both 395 and 397 in their second year

(c)  take 279 in their first or second year

(d)  take one of 301, 303, 305, 307, 309 or 311 in their second year

Requirements for BA Honours - Elaborations

  1. Formal Logic:  You must take two courses in formal logic.  Formal logic is the study of symbolic representations of reasoning.  Students may fulfill this requirement by taking one of PHIL 279 and PHIL 377, followed by PHIL 379. 
  2. Majors Classes:  PHIL 395 and PHIL 397 are classes reserved for philosophy majors, and are writing intensive.  They should be taken during the student's second year.
  3. Honours Thesis:  In the final year of the Honours program you must take PHIL 590 (Honours Thesis).  You will work one-on-one with a professor to prepare an Honours Thesis of 12,000-15,000 words (excluding bibliography).  You then have an oral defense of the thesis before a three-member committee which will assign the grade.  The Honours Thesis grade must be at last "A" or "A-" if the Department is to recommend you for First Class Honours, and must be at least "B-" if you are to be recommended for Honours.  Students planning to write their honours thesis should make arrangements with a supervision in the Spring before they enroll in PHIL 590. 
  4. Honours Seminar:  In the Fall semester of the year in which you write your honours thesis, you will take PHIL 597 (Honours Seminar) in which you get some instruction on thesis writing and will present your ideas to the other members of the class. 
  5. Core Classes:  The core classes intended to teach philosophy majors the professional skills of a philosopher are the courses offered at the 400/500 level.  Here students will be exposed to intense discussion of ideas and historical figures, often in a seminar style format.  While students are given the freedom to choose the courses that interest them, we strongly encourage they take courses from across a range of philosophical areas.  Students bear the responsibility of ensuring that they take the appropriate classes at the 200/300 level to ensure that they have the prerequisites for the upper level core classes. 
  6. Other:  The remaining 2.5 FCEs will largely be taken in the student's first two years and will vary with the interests of the student.  Students are encouraged to take either PHIL 201 or PHIL 249 in their first year.  Students are also strongly encouraged to take at least 1 course in the History of Philosophy during their second year (one of 301, 303, 305, 307, 309, 311).

Frequently Asked Questions about the Honours Program

Submitted by nnreimer on Mon, 08/22/2016 - 5:32pm

How do I apply to the Honours Program?

Students applying for admission to the Honours program should make requests for changes of program through the PeopleSoft Student Centre.  

What GPA do I need?

Applicants to the Honours Program need (i) a cumulative GPA of at least 3.30 over the most recent 10 full course equivalents taken (or all courses if less than 10 FCEs have been completed), (ii) a cumulative GPA of 3.30 calculated for all Arts courses included in the past 10 FCEs, and (iii) the recommendation of the Department.  The recommendation of the Departments carries particular weight in cases where the GPA is borderline.  You need a 3.30 over the last 15 FCEs and at least a B- on Philosophy 590 to graduate with honours (3.60 and an A- for first class honours).

What is this "Department recommendation" for admission into the Honours Program, and how do I get one?

You don't need to do anything with respect to the recommendation. Once you apply for the Honours Program, your file will be forwarded to the Undergraduate Director.

What is the Honours Thesis / Philosophy 590?

An honours thesis is a substantial piece of philosophy written on a topic of your choice. Most honours theses are approximately 40 typed pages long. An honours thesis is written under the supervision of one of the permanent faculty in the Philosophy Department during the Fall and Winter terms of the last year of the Honours Program, and is examined in an oral defence at the end of the Winter term.  Students writing their thesis must enroll in Philosophy 590 during the Fall and Winter terms.

What is the Honours Seminar / Philosophy 597?

Philosophy 597 course is required as part of the Honours program.  The seminar provides instruction on thesis writing and a forum in which to present and develop your ideas to the other members of the class.  Students in the Honours Program should enroll in PHIL 597 in the Fall Term of the year in which they they write their Honours Thesis.

I tried to enrol in Philosophy 590/597 but the Student Centre informs me I need departmental permission. What should I do?

You will not be allowed to enroll in Phil 590 or PHIL 597 until you have arranged for a supervisor and received permission from the Honours Advisor.

How do I get a supervisor?

It is your responsibility to approach one of the permanent faculty and ask them to supervise your honours thesis. Ideally you should start this process in April or May of the year before writing your thesis, and have more than one possibility in mind. Faculty members may have to turn your request down if they are going to be off campus for all or part of the year, or if they have already taken on the maximum number of students they can supervise.   The primary thing you should consider when choosing a supervisor is whether they specialize in the area you wish to write your thesis on. The Honours Advisor would be happy to give you advice about choosing a supervisor, however, please keep in mind that is your job to secure supervision.

When does my thesis have to be complete?

The thesis needs to be ready to submit to the examination committee no later than the first day of the final examinations period in the Winter session. If you choose to set the oral exam early in the final examinations period then the thesis must be completed earlier - the committee should have at least 2 weeks to read the thesis before the oral exam.

How is my thesis examined?

A committee of three people will examine the thesis: your supervisor, the Honours Advisor, and a third member of the Philosophy Department chosen by you and your supervisor in consultation. Under some circumstances, the Honours Advisor may nominate another member of the Department to sit on the committee in their place.   The members of the committee will read your thesis and then conduct an oral exam before setting the grade.

How long is the oral exam? When does it occur?

As a rule, honours thesis orals are usually between an hour and an hour and a half. The oral exam cannot last any longer than two hours.   The exam will be scheduled sometime during the final exam period of the Winter term.

Can I write my thesis before the final year?

Double major students are sometimes permitted to write their honours thesis in the penultimate year of the program. This would require special permission from the Honours Advisor, and is contingent on the student having completed the majority of their philosophy course requirements before writing the thesis.

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