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University of Otago
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Bachelor of Arts (BA) Majoring in Philosophy

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


3 years

Next start date

Expected Jul 2023


University of Otago


The Bachelor of Arts (BA) is Otago's most flexible undergraduate degree programme, enabling students to study from a selection of more than 40 arts and social science subjects, as well as papers offered elsewhere in the University. Academic breadth is complemented by in-depth knowledge gained through majoring in one or two subjects with the option of minors in one or two others.

Students are taught by research-active scholars, are expected to undertake a diverse range of learning tasks and are challenged to develop their intellectual independence. Graduates of the programme are well-informed, versatile, independent thinkers with the information literacy, communication, research and interpersonal skills necessary for a career or further academic study. The completed BA is an possible qualification for the PGDipArts in the major subject of the degree.

Why study Philosophy?

The skills and knowledge you gain from studying philosophy will make you a better student in other subjects; they will also be invaluable in a wide variety of occupations because philosophy focuses less on what you believe and more on the quality of your reasons for believing it.

By examining the reasons we have for the claims we make, philosophy develops your powers of argument, analysis, and critical reasoning. It will help you to express yourself more clearly and give you the abilities required to address complex and difficult problems.

Philosophy provides a tool kit to critically engage with difficult and important questions. It seems that some actions are right and others are wrong but it is difficult to explain if this is because one produces better outcomes or the other respects humanity. It seems that some scientific claims are almost certainly true, but a crucial element of the success of science is its willingness to revise its claims in light of new evidence. It seems that there is little more to our brains than complex neural networks but how do these networks generate intense feelings?

Discussing these abstract problems develops the philosophical tools necessary to deal with practical problems, such as whether an unpopular theory should be accepted, or to what extent we can appeal to common sense when arguing about a radical claim. In grappling with these issues philosophers seek to build a well-grounded picture of the world and of human life. The key skill for a philosopher is the ability to construct and dissect arguments, so a central part of all philosophy is training in clear and effective reasoning. The core philosophical disciplines focus on the nature of reasoning, knowledge and existence.

Philosophers find work in a huge variety of careers, including:




Dispute resolution

Documentary film making






Nature conservation




Social services

Software Design


Systems analysis


Entry criteria

We recognise many other qualifications as equivalent to the New Zealand qualification for entrance.

We also accept the following international qualifications:

  • International Baccalaureate: IB Diploma with a minimum of 24 points.
  • Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) GCE Advanced Levels: minimum Numerical Score of 8
  • A minimum of CCC across the NCUK IFY
  • Satisfactory completion of one year's study at a recognised tertiary institution.

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic - IELTS score of 6.0 in the academic module (with no individual band below 5.5). IELTS Online is also accepted.
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Score of 80 (writing 20)
  • Paper-based TOEFL - Score of 550 (TWE 4.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) & Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - Overall score of 176 (with no individual band below 169)
  • CIE - E grade or higher in any one of AS English Language, AS Literature in English or AS Language & Literature in English; OR meeting the NCEA literacy requirements
  • GCE A or AS English Language, Literature in English, Language and Literature in English & GCE AS level General Paper (English) - Grade C or higher
  • IB - English at Higher or Standard level in Language A: literature, Language A: language and literature, or at Higher Level in Language B
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 50 with no communicative skills score below 42.
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL: C1 Expert (LRWS) with a pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill
  • NZCEL - NZCEL 4 Academic endorsement
  • ELA pathway programmes - Successful completion of the English Pathway for Undergraduate Studies (EPUS) with a C Grade
  • FCertEAP - Successful completion of the certificate with a C Grade

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