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Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)

Key facts

  • Available at Auckland
  • Available at Manawatū
  • Available via Distance Learning
  • Note: Not all courses are available in any one year
  • Available for international students studying in NZ or via distance learning

Your inquisitive mind can make you highly employable

A Massey BA (Philosophy) will develop your abilities to think and reason, to express your thoughts clearly and concisely, and to critically evaluate complex ideas, all of which will make you a highly employable graduate.

Find out more about the Bachelor of Arts parent structure.

What is it like?

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 BA (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 also learn how to express your thoughts concisely and clearly, how to engage constructively in debate, how to deal with unusual and difficult ideas, and 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, and 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, and to 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 good fit if you:

  • Like to ponder the big questions
  • Have ever wondered if you have free will... if God exists... how we know what’s right and wrong... how we know anything at all... or what it means to be human
  • 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
Brandon Young
Bachelor of Arts (Philosophy)

“Philosophy teaches you to think critically and not just accept everything at face value…”

Brandon Young wanted to use his brain after his repetitive – though not unsatisfying – work as a baker. Philosophy has been the perfect answer to his hunger for knowledge, personal growth and intellectual nourishment.

“Philosophy teaches you to think critically and not just accept everything at face value,” the 23-year-old says. Now, he understands the importance of asking the right questions and being well informed in order to be able to discuss and argue soundly. The skills he’s developed through studying ethics and critical thinking have been useful, for example, in analysing the news media, he says, helping him to query assumptions and generalisations that can mislead, or perpetuate stereotypes, myths and ignorance.

Brandon says despite his initial reservations, the new compulsory core course "Turangawaewae" (or "standing place") has been transformative. He’s had his eyes opened to key events in relatively recent New Zealand history he’d never heard of, from the occupation of Bastion Point in the 1970s and 1980s and the 1981 Springbok Tour to gaining a deeper understanding of the Treaty of Waitangi and settlement process. Things all New Zealand citizens should know about, he adds.

He encounters people who scoff at an arts degree. But Brandon thinks more young people will turn away from the “greed is good” mentality and that more are likely to choose humanities and social sciences as societal changes call for more people who can think critically and ethically.


A Massey BA (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 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 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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