Philosophy A/T

Philosophy is the study of humanity’s most important and influential ideas. Through the study of philosophy we are pushed to question and interrogate how and why we make the decisions that we do.

What do we value? What do we consider to be true? What are our unconscious biases? How are we influenced by our parents, our teachers and society?

This course is built to develop and test students' critical thinking, problem solving and decision making skills, skills which are extremely valuable for success in the AST and highly sought after in 21 century workplaces. Students will work to challenge assumptions, to develop and present logical, reasoned and coherent arguments and to prepare for a life of learning. There are educational advantages in studying this course with others such as Global Studies and Economics. Read more at GPE.

Key Skills:


Unit 1: Ethics

In this unit, students will study the nature of ethics. They will explore ethical questions and reflect on what constitutes a just society and ‘the good life’. Students will develop a framework for understanding ethical positions.

Topics and philosophers discussed may include consequentialism, Mill and Bentham’s utilitarianism, Aristotle's virtue ethics and Kant’s categorical imperative. Students will also be challenged to question their own beliefs and moral and ethical frameworks, reflecting on the impact of their own ethical positions.

Unit 2: Epistemology

In this unit, students will study the nature of knowledge and the basis of knowledge claims. They will explore how we can know and the justification of knowledge. Students will also develop skills to evaluate knowledge claims.

This will include the study of rationalism, empiricism and scepticism and a reflection upon the relationship between the knower and the known. This includes understanding and applying different ways of knowing, such as reason, emotion, intuition, faith and tradition.

Unit 3: Metaphysics

In this unit, students will study the nature of existence and notions of reality. They will explore the relationship between being, meaning, personhood and human nature. Students will develop skills to explore the implications of metaphysical arguments relating to human existence.

This will include the study of topics and philosophers such as Leibniz’s Monadology, Heidegger’s Being and Time, as well as Descartes' mind-body problem and work of Schopenhauer, which combines elements of Heraclitus, Spinoza and Buddhism.

Unit 4: Philosophy of Language

In this unit, students will study the nature of language and meaning. They will explore how meaning is constructed and investigate the relationship between language, though, and the world. Students will develop understanding of how language can be shaped by, and construct, reality.

Students will get the opportunity to study both Frege’s logicism and de Saussure’s semiotics, which outline how the philosophy of language works in both analytic and continental philosophy respectively. We will also look at the role that language plays in the media and politics.

Independent Study Unit

This independent research unit is available to students who have demonstrated high conceptual, cognitive and organisational outcomes in at least three previous units.