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Master of Arts (Philosophy)

Key facts

  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Available for international students via distance learning

Think about the big questions in life

With Massey’s Master of Arts (Philosophy) you can tackle the questions that have always gripped humanity.

Find out more about the Master of Arts parent structure.

What is it like?

With the Master of Arts (Philosophy) you’ll tackle the big questions of what kind of beings we are, and how we interact with the world in which we live.

You can develop your interests and skills with a research report or a thesis.

Benefit at work and at home

Philosophy isn’t just about abstract thinking. Studying philosophy develops your critical thinking skills: your ability to assess whether arguments are rationally compelling, and to make your arguments compelling to others. This skill is important in the workplace, and is consistently ranked by employers among the most desirable attributes in an employee.

It helps you in your day-to-day life too, such as when watching the news or reading stories on the internet. Through your study of philosophy you’ll learn how to understand and evaluate what you read rather than just remembering it, and to become more aware of the reasons why you hold the views you do.

Complete your MA in three semesters 

Massey’s Master of Arts is 180 credits. This means you can complete an MA in three semesters of full-time study. If you study part-time, an MA will normally take three years to complete.

A good fit if you:

  • Have an undergraduate degree in philosophy
  • Wish to stay relevant to current discussions in philosophy
  • Want to investigate a particular aspect of philosophy
Nathan Hawkins
Bachelor of Arts with Honours (double major: Mathematics and Philosophy)
Master of Arts (Philosophy), expected 2016
Graduated in 2016

“I greatly appreciated the flexibility that the distance learning programme at Massey University offers…”

Born in the UK, but with Kiwi heritage on my father’s side, I moved to Whangarei when I was 25, subsequently marrying a Kiwi. I initially worked in the video marketing world but when my wife started studying I decided it was time for me to follow my interests in mathematics and philosophy.

I greatly appreciated the flexibility that the distance learning programme at Massey University offers. It enabled me to study all courses of my Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts entirely from Whangarei while working my study around my busy life.

My faith and deepening knowledge in philosophy motivated me to take a leadership role in putting ideas into action. In 2011, my wife and I started a small church and charity in Whangarei that has led to the continued flourishing of several community projects. My academic achievements, and dedication to improving the lives of others, have been recognised by the Gates Cambridge foundation. They have awarded me with the prestigious Gates scholarship to study a Master in Philosophy as an international student from New Zealand at Cambridge University starting in October 2016.

In the future I anticipate completing a doctorate and sharing my knowledge and experience with others through research and teaching at universities. My passion and life vision is to challenge fundamental assumptions and bring fresh perspective regarding the complex world we live in.


A Massey MA (Philosophy) gives you experience in handling unusual and difficult ideas, communicating your thinking with clarity, and being aware of the reasons for your views while being flexible and adaptive. You’ll cope with new challenges as the needs of your work change. That adaptability and the ability to think on your feet will be a big advantage in careers in advertising, journalism, management, policy analysis, research and many more.

These skills are highly prized by employers and this means you can explore a wide range of career options. Recent graduates in philosophy have gone into jobs as diverse as:

  • Advertising
  • Business
  • Computing
  • Journalism
  • Management
  • Policy analysis
  • Publishing
  • Research
  • Teaching
  • Treasury

Lecturer profile

Bill Fish - Associate Professor in Philosophy

At Massey you’ll be taught by some of the world’s leading philosophers, such as Bill Fish.

Bill is one of the top young(ish) philosophers and is world-renowned in his particular area of philosophy.

In 2012 his first book Perception, Hallucination, and Illusion was a topic of discussion at a meeting of the biggest philosophy association in the world - the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division conference. The book is all about perception, and how it’s important to figure out how we perceive things, so we can then figure out how we know what we do!

Bill started off as a science boy. He took maths, physics and chemistry for his A-levels in the UK, and it was only as he was wandering around an electives fair at his university that he randomly chose philosophy as an extra subject.

He loved it so much he ended up majoring in the subject and going on to lecture and research, first in the UK and now in New Zealand.

Bill’s main areas of research and teaching are on disjunctivism - what it is to have a mind, how it hooks up to the world, the role of consciousness in all of this and epistemology (the theory around how we come to have knowledge).

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