Programs

You can find a list of our currently offered undergraduate courses as well as syllabi on our Courses page. You may also want to find out more about the Minor in Applied Ethics.

The tabs below outline the requirements for each of our degree programs. Feel free to contact our undergraduate adviser for help planning your program, and take note of the Tips for Completing Your Philosophy Program listed below our requirements. Also, note that the university calendar is the authoritative standard for all program requirements if any discrepancy exists between these descriptions and their corresponding calendar entries.

Students must complete the following 21 units of courses in philosophy.

  1. At least two of:
    1. PHIL 201 (Critical Thinking)
    2. PHIL 203 (Elementary Formal Logic)
    3. PHIL 370 (Theoretical Logic, if selected, 370 cannot count towards upper-level requirements)
    4. PHIL 371 (Logic, if selected, 371 cannot count towards upper-level requirements)
  2. One from each of:
    1. PHIL 301 (Plato), PHIL 303 (Aristotle)
    2. PHIL 306 (The Rationalists), PHIL 308 (The Empiricists), PHIL 309 (Kant)
    3. any course not already selected in (a) and (b), or PHIL 314 (19th Century Philosophy) or PHIL 316 (History of Analytic Philosophy)
    4. PHIL 352 (Metaphysics), PHIL 354 (Philosophy of Language), PHIL 362 (Philosophy of Mind)
    5. PHIL 351 (Epistemology), PHIL 356 (Philosophy of Science), PHIL 358 (Theory of Perception)
    6. PHIL 335 (Contemporary Moral Philosophy), PHIL 338 (Meta-Ethics), PHIL 339 (Theories of Justice)
  • An additional 6.0 units of philosophy courses numbered 300 and above (excluding PHIL 321, 330, 331, 333)
  • An additional 3.0 units of philosophy at any level.

Download the Major checklist file.

30 units of courses in philosophy, including at least 21 units numbered 300 and above.

  1. At least two of:
    1. PHIL 201 (Critical Thinking)
    2. PHIL 203 (Elementary Formal Logic)
    3. PHIL 370 (Theoretical Logic, if selected, 370 cannot count towards upper-level requirements)
    4. PHIL 371 (Logic, if selected, 371 cannot count towards upper-level requirements)
  2. One from each of:
    1. PHIL 301 (Plato), PHIL 303 (Aristotle)
    2. PHIL 306 (The Rationalists), PHIL 308 (The Empiricists), PHIL 309 (Kant)
    3. any course not already selected in (a) and (b), or PHIL 314 (19th Century Philosophy) or PHIL 316 (History of Analytic Philosophy)
    4. PHIL 352 (Metaphysics), PHIL 354 (Philosophy of Language), PHIL 362 (Philosophy of Mind)
    5. PHIL 351 (Epistemology), PHIL 356 (Philosophy of Science), PHIL 358 (Theory of Perception)
    6. PHIL 335 (Contemporary Moral Philosophy), PHIL 338 (Meta-Ethics), PHIL 339 (Theories of Justice)
  3. An additional 9.0 units of philosophy courses numbered 300 and above (excluding PHIL 321, 330, 331, 333, 379)
  4. An additional 3.0 units of philosophy courses numbered 400 and above
  5. An additional 6.0 units of philosophy at any level

Graduation standing: To obtain an Honours degree, you must have a minimum 5.0 graduating GPA and have a minimum 6.0 GPA in all credit courses taken in philosophy.

Note: the GPA requirement above states all PHIL courses taken (whether they satisfy specific requirements or not) are included in an overall average calculation, but it does not imply that students must achieve a 6.0 in each PHIL course taken.

To apply: If you wish to be considered for the honours program, apply to the undergraduate adviser. Applications are normally considered only after students have completed their second year of study.

Download the Honours checklist file.

12 units of courses in philosophy. Of these, at least 9.0 must be numbered 300 or higher.

Studying philosophy develops skills of critical reasoning and reflective analysis of texts, rhetoric, evidence, and argument that can be fruitfully deployed in a vast array of social, professional, personal, and political settings. Students acquire an understanding and appreciation of fundamental and fascinating issues about the nature of knowledge, truth, reality, reason, value, beauty, and existence. This knowledge is garnered through study of diverse texts and figures in the history of philosophy but also through engagement with the work of contemporary philosophers working in a variety of philosophical traditions. Since philosophy addresses many fundamental issues that lie at the heart of intellectual inquiry in other disciplines, acquiring a knowledge and appreciation of philosophical views and techniques complements learning in virtually every field of study and thereby contributes to success in other subjects. In these ways, an education in philosophy fosters intellectual curiosity and habits of mind that are both intrinsically rewarding and instrumentally valuable to the pursuit of goals in every domain of life.

 
The Philosophy Department at the University of Victoria advances these general learning outcomes by offering programs grounded in courses that develop the following more specific competencies:
 
  1. Skills in informal and formal logic. Rigorous reasoning skills are developed and deployed in all our courses but courses in critical thinking and formal logic provide students with detailed understanding of the structural elements of good and bad arguments, the difference between soundness and validity, and fallacies in reasoning that are frequently encountered in everyday life. Students acquire practically relevant skills in detecting errors in reasoning and in determining how evidence for claims should be assessed.
 
  1. Skills in textual interpretation and analysis. Through the close study of important texts both in the history of philosophy and in contemporary philosophy, students learn how to place texts in their historical and cultural context and identify the factors relevant to understanding and assessing the views expressed by authors. Students learn how to address issues concerning the translation of text from other languages and about the different forms of literary and philosophical expression.
 
  1. Skills in writing and communication. Essay writing is an integral part of philosophy. Through regular writing assignments, students learn how write papers that are clearly structured, well-researched, and that develop effective arguments in support of clearly articulated theses. Students learn about the diversity of styles in philosophical writing from dialogues to aphorisms, to books, to academic papers. Through frequent class discussion and engagement with their professors, students learn how to pose effective questions and to engage others in critical but respectful debate.
 
  1. Understanding of the history of philosophy. Students study the works of many of the most influential figures in the history of philosophy and come to understand how ideas and themes in historical texts still have relevance to contemporary debates in a wide variety of fields. Students learn to appreciate the diversity in the philosophical doctrines that have been advanced by different philosophers and different traditions. But they are also alerted to the significance of cultural and political forces that have silenced or marginalized some voices in the history of philosophy.
 
  1. Understanding of dimensions of value. Students learn about fundamental issues concerning the nature of morality and the various philosophical theories that seek to illuminate key normative concepts such as goodness, rightness, wrongness, obligation, fairness, justice, democracy, and human rights. Students learn both about broad theories of morality and about the application of ethical considerations in a wide variety of applied settings such as medicine, law, business, economics, and the environment.
 
  1. Understanding of metaphysics and epistemology. Students learn about key problems and views concerning the nature of knowledge, the considerations at play in the acquisition of knowledge, and what we can know about the fundamental character of reality. Students learn about the way in which epistemic and metaphysical issues concerning the use of language, the nature of scientific investigation and explanation, and nature of the mind and related psychological phenomena arise and how philosophical inquiry in these domains intersects with research in the sciences and social sciences.
 
  1. Understanding of beauty, meaning, and creativity. Through opportunities to grapple with profound philosophical issues in many domains, students can explore how different cultures and communities have interpreted the place of beauty and meaning in human life. Students learn about the philosophical facets of art, literature, film, and music. Students also learn about various kinds of religious belief and spiritual practices to which many humans are drawn as sources of meaning but which can generate philosophical puzzles and disagreements.

Tips for Completing Your Philosophy Program

  • We recommend working with a Program Planning Worksheet from Advising to get an overall sense of how Philosophy requirements fit into the Faculty of Humanities and general Uvic requirements.  Note, however, that one need not strictly follow the year-by-year guidelines planned out on the worksheet.  Also, the worksheet only covers the major program; it is not set up for the honours program.

  • PHIL 100 is strongly encouraged for incoming first-year students, but it is not required as a prerequisite for upper-level courses. If you are a second or third year student thinking of switching into philosophy, you need not go back to PHIL 100. Instead, please consult with our undergraduate advisor to organize the best entry path into our program.
  • Most of our upper-level courses require only that students have completed 4.5 units of philosophy. However, this is not true for all upper-level courses (e.g., PHIL 311), so plan your progress through our requirements accordingly.

  • In particular, be advised that PHIL 203 is a prerequisite for certain prominent courses in our program requirements (e.g., PHIL 316, 352, 354 and 370). Students are therefore encouraged to complete PHIL 203 early in their studies to avoid being precluded from taking these courses as they approach graduation.

  • Some courses are best completed in chronological order (e.g., PHIL 301 before 303), but this progression is not strictly required. Nevertheless, it is strongly recommended that students complete PHIL 306 or PHIL 308 before taking PHIL 309. Ideally students will have taken both 306 and 308, but completing at least one of these two courses is exceedingly beneficial for appreciating the material in PHIL 309.

  • Students ought to also consult Academic Advising for help planning their overall university requirements, e.g. program requirements for the Faculty of Humanities.