Philosophy – Bachelor of Arts

Develop your ability to think and reason, to express your thoughts clearly and concisely, and to critically evaluate complex ideas. These skills will make you a highly employable graduate.

Where you can study

Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students on campus in New Zealand, or studying online outside New Zealand
Note: Note: Not all courses are available in any one year

Specialise in Philosophy for your Bachelor of Arts at Massey

Think deeply about the big questions

If you are fascinated by the big questions of what kind of beings we are and how we interact with the world in which we live, then Massey’s Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) is the degree for you.

Make your point and influence people

Philosophy isn’t just about abstract thinking. Massey’s BA (Philosophy) offers you the chance to learn highly applicable and useful skills. Studying philosophy develops your critical thinking skills: your ability to assess whether arguments are rationally compelling and to make your arguments compelling to others.

You will learn how to:

  • express your thoughts concisely and clearly
  • how to engage constructively in debate
  • how to deal with unusual and difficult ideas
  • how to look at problems in new ways.

Benefit at work and at home

The intellectual skill of critical thinking is important in the workplace. It is consistently ranked by employers amongst 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 will learn how to understand and evaluate what you read rather than just remembering it. You’ll become more aware of the reasons why you hold the views you do. A major in philosophy will challenge your thinking and encourage you to continue asking questions.

A Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy is a good fit if you:

  • like to ponder the big questions
  • love to discuss and debate
  • want a relevant and useful degree that will provide you with transferable skills relevant to a wide range of different occupations

Planning information

If you study full time, in the first year you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.

If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school if you wish. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.

You need to pass five courses at 300-level for your BA. One of these (230310) is in the compulsory core and three are required for your major. If you are not taking a double major or a minor, you will need to take one 300-level elective course to meet this requirement.

About this major

A Philosophy major consists of 120 credits (eight courses).

Not all courses will be offered in all modes or across all campuses in any given year.


Completing a minor is optional. Minors increase the breadth of your degree. They give you extra knowledge, attributes and capabilities.

A minor must be in a different subject from your major.

A Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) with a minor

You may choose a minor from the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business or Bachelor of Science. If the minor is from another degree the regulations of that qualification will apply.

A philosophy minor (for students who are studying a different degree) 

If you are not studying towards a BA (Philosophy) and wish to complete a minor in philosophy see the BA regulations for requirements.  

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may be no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Subject courses

Choose at least 15 credits from
Course code: 134101 Knowledge and Reality 15 credits

An introduction to questions about existence, perception and the mind.

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Course code: 134102 Great Thinkers 15 credits

This course examines the ideas of some of the 'greats' in Western philosophy, including Socrates, Plato, Descartes, Mill and many others.

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Course code: 134104 Practical Ethics 15 credits

An examination of ethical issues that arise in everyday life.

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Course code: 134105 Philosophy of Religion: God, Freedom and Evil 15 credits

An introduction to selected topics from philosophy of religion.

Restrictions: 134206, 134306

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Course code: 134106 Justice and Equality 15 credits

An introduction to central issues in political and social philosophy with a focus on theories of justice and equality.

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Choose at least 30 credits from
Course code: 134201 Philosophy of Mind, Consciousness and Cognition 15 credits

An investigation of many philosophical questions concerning minds, consciousness and language.

Restrictions: 134301

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Course code: 134203 Ethics 15 credits

This course examines the theories that underpin our ethical thinking, developing an understanding of the nature of ethical thinking in general, and the advantages and disadvantages of major ethical theories.

Restrictions: 134303

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Course code: 134204 Philosophy of Art and Music 15 credits

An examination of topics in metaphysics, epistemology, logic, and ethics which arise in aesthetics and the philosophy of art.

Restrictions: 134304

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Course code: 134205 Logic 15 credits

An introduction to modern formal logic using propositional logic and first-order predicate logic. Formal logic provides an important link between the humanities and maths and sciences, particularly computer and information sciences.

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Course code: 134207 Rights and Reconciliation 15 credits

A study of themes from international political and social philosophy with a focus on the moral status of state boundaries and the moral status of war.

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Course code: 134213 Resistance, Rebellion and Revolution 15 credits

A philosophical examination of when disagreement with, and opposition to, governmental authority is justified. Using the tools of political philosophy and assessing real-world cases, we discuss the nature, demands, and limits of various types of insubordinate political activity, including (but not limited to) conscientious objection, civil disobedience, secession, and revolution.

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Course code: 134214 Knowledge as a Social Phenomenon 15 credits

A philosophical examination of the way our social environment influences how we can come to know about the world.

Restrictions: 134312

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Course code: 134216 Modern Philosophy 15 credits

This course will investigate metaphysical and epistemological views of the 17th - 18th centuries, focussing on Descartes, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley and Hume. It will pay particular attention to early modern notions of causation.

Restrictions: 134316

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Course code: 134218 Environmental Philosophy 15 credits

This course uses philosophy to explore contemporary environmental issues, such as whether our concern for environmental well-being can be adequately grounded in a concern for human well-being, and responses to global conversations around sustainability and ‘the rights of nature'.

Restrictions: 134318

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Course code: 134220 Business and Professional Ethics 15 credits

An examination of the practice of ethical reasoning with special concern for issues that arise in business and professions.

Restrictions: 134320, 134219, 134319

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Course code: 134221 Great Asian Thinkers 15 credits

A detailed investigation and analysis of the major philosophical systems which have developed within East Asia since the first millennium Before Common Era.

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Choose at least 45 credits from
Course code: 134305 Advanced Ethics 15 credits

The course will investigate issues to do with moral psychology, practical reason, moral language, and moral ontology.

Prerequisites: Any 200-level 134-prefix course

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Course code: 134308 Philosophy of Science 15 credits

An investigation of fact and theory, explanation and discovery, and of modern attempts to improve on naïve empiricist accounts of science.

Restrictions: 134208

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Course code: 134309 Ancient Philosophy 15 credits

An examination of ancient philosophies, particularly those of Socrates, Plato and Aristotle.

Prerequisites: Any 200-level 134 prefix course or 201201 Restrictions: 134209

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Course code: 134311 Global Justice 15 credits

Exploring contemporary philosophical issues of justice as they arise within and between communities globally, including indigenous philosophies and communities.

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Course code: 134317 Philosophical Investigations 15 credits

A consideration of some of the most influential philosophers from Kant to the present.

Restrictions: 134217

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy) outside of university admission regulations.

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

If you have already completed a bachelor degree

If you have already completed a bachelor degree you may replace 230111 Tū Kupu: Writing and Inquiry or 230112 Tū Arohae: Critical Thinking with courses of your choice. You will need to apply for replacement courses via a Special permission request in your portal and you will need to attach evidence of your completed degree with the request.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Can't meet the entry requirements?

If you need to do a course before you start your qualification, there may be options for you in Summer School.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Search our scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

A Massey BA (Philosophy) gives you experience in handling unusual and difficult ideas and communicating your thinking with clarity. You’ll be aware of the reasons for your views, while being flexible and adaptive. You will 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 job areas as diverse as:

  • advertising
  • business
  • computing
  • journalism
  • management
  • policy analysis
  • publishing
  • research
  • teaching
  • Treasury.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.

As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.

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