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Graduate Studies Calendar 2011-2012 Program Descriptions Philosophy PHIL
Philosophy - PHIL
Contact Information Location: Social Sciences Building, Room 1248
Faculty number: 403.220.5533
Fax: 403.289.5698
E-mail address:
Web page URL:
1. Degrees and Specializations Offered

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Master of Arts (MA), course-based (full and part-time) and thesis-based (full-time)

The Department also offers a Master of Arts degree with a specialization in the History and Philosophy of Science and a Master of Arts degree with a specialization in the Philosophy of Religion. These two degrees are offered in cooperation with the Departments of History and Religious Studies respectively.

2. Admission Requirements In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Arts requirements, the Department requires three letters of reference, and a sample of written work, such as a recent essay, written in English. Applications will not be considered without a sample of written work.
3. Application Deadline The deadline for submitting complete applications is January 15 for September admission.
Candidates applying for financial assistance should ensure that all documents relevant to their scholarship application reach the Department by January 15. The Department makes its first round of decisions for financial support by the end of March. Although most applications are for September admission, January admission is also possible.
4. Advanced Credit The Department does not normally give advanced credit for courses taken previously. However, in special circumstances, a request for advanced credit may be considered if it is made as part of the admission process. Credit will not be given for course work taken as part of another completed degree/diploma or for courses taken to raise the grade point average to a level required for admission. Normally, advanced credit may be given for a maximum of three half-course equivalents.
5. Program/Course Requirements

Note: Normally, in both Master’s and Doctoral programs, no more than one half course of Directed Reading can be taken to satisfy the minimum course requirement.

In addition to Faculties of Graduate Studies and Arts requirements, the Department requires:

Master of Arts (thesis-based)
a) A minimum of six half-course equivalents
b) In the specializations History and Philosophy of Science or Philosophy of Religion, courses taken in History or Religious Studies, may, with departmental approval, count as fulfilling course requirements for the degree

Master of Arts (thesis-based) with Specialization in the History and Philosophy of Science
a) Two half-course equivalents (two terms) in the philosophy of science
b) Two half-course equivalents (two terms) in the history of science
c) Two half-course equivalents (two terms) in the history and philosophy of science
d) Proficiency in a second language or logic, depending on the department of enrolment

Master of Arts (course-based)
a) A minimum of ten half courses, including at least two half courses in the History of Philosophy and two half courses in 20th Century or Contemporary Philosophy
b) Students to remedy background deficiencies, if any, in a certain area or areas of philosophy by taking course work below the 500-level
c) Students must complete at least one half course in each annual registration period

Doctor of Philosophy
a) Normally, a minimum of six half courses for students with a Master of Arts degree
b) Normally, a minimum of twelve half courses for students entering directly from an honours undergraduate program
c) Students to show competence in logic, which may be done by achieving a grade of "B" or better in Philosophy 379

6. Additional Requirements None.
7. Credit for Undergraduate Courses Normally, no undergraduate courses will be credited towards completion of course requirements in a graduate program.
8. Time Limit Expected completion time for full-time students is two years in a Master’s thesis program, three years in a Master’s course-based program, and four years in a doctoral program. Maximum completion time is four years for a Master’s thesis program, and six years for a Master’s course-based or doctoral program.
9. Supervisory Assignments Students are assigned an interim advisor until they have an opportunity to become acquainted with other members of the faculty. Each student must have a supervisor by the end of the second regular academic session after first registration (April for September registrants and December for January registrants) and well in advance of the student's determination of areas for the final examination. The choice of supervisor must be by mutual arrangement between the student and staff member concerned, and approved by the Department.
A supervisory committee at the Master’s level is not normally appointed. When such a committee is deemed necessary, the Dean’s approval must be obtained.
A doctoral student shall be under the general supervision of a supervisory committee. After consultation with the student, the supervisor will submit a list of possible members of the supervisory committee to the Graduate Studies Committee for approval. The supervisory committee should be established as soon as possible and no later than three months after the supervisor’s appointment.
10. Required Examinations

Doctor of Philosophy

Departmental Preliminary Examinations
Students will be required to show competence in three of the following four areas:

Area I – metaphysics and epistemology
Area II – history of philosophy
Area III – philosophy of language and logic
Area IV – moral and political philosophy

The student chooses three areas. Competence in an area is shown by submitting a satisfactory essay or passing an examination. At least one area must be passed by either a sit-down or take-home examination. Exams are administered, and essays accepted, four times yearly. All three areas must be passed within 20 months of registration. Students who have not passed three areas within 20 months of registration will not normally receive further Departmental support.

Oral Candidacy Examination
After completion of required course work and preliminary examinations, the doctoral student must pass an oral candidacy examination prior to beginning the doctoral thesis. Before the examination, the student must submit a thesis proposal (approximately 20 pages) that will serve as the basis of discussion at the examination. The purpose of the examination is to ascertain whether the student’s academic preparation and ability is adequate to pursue profitable research on the issues proposed.  Questions on the research proposal will  be included in the oral candidacy examination.

Master of Arts (course-based)
The course-based Master of Arts has a research constituent.  This constituent is to be satisfied by passing all components, written and oral, of the final Master's examination.

A final Master's examination of overall competency is required after completion of all course work, consisting of written and oral components.  Effective July 1, 2009, the Department of Philosophy will be monitoring and overseeing this examination.

a) Details of the written component:
i. The written component will consist of two three-hour written examinations.  The written examinations are to be completed within one week. 
ii. The written component of the examination must be judged to be either acceptable ('Pass') or unacceptable ('Fail').
b) The student shall not be permitted to proceed to the oral component if the student does not secure a 'Pass' on the written component.
c) The oral examination will be held within two weeks following the written component.  The oral examination will not be limited to the questions in the written examinations but will test the student's general knowledge of the areas selected for examination.
d) Details of the oral component:
i. The oral examination is a formal examination, not an informal discussion with the student.
ii. All examiners must be given an opportunity to question the student early in the examination, e.g. by rounds of questioning.
iii. The oral examination shall not exceed two hours.  This does not include deliberation time of the committee.
iv. The oral component of the examination must be judged to be either acceptable ('Pass') or unacceptable ('Fail').
e) Each examiner is required to submit a written assessment of the student's written examination performance, to be submitted to the Chair of the examination committee prior to the examination.
f) The result of the Final Master's Examination shall be either 'Pass' or 'Fail'.  To secure a 'Pass', the student must obtain a 'Pass' on both the written component and the oral component of the exam.  In the event of a failure, the examining committee may recommend that the student be given an opportunity to take the failed component of the examination again between two and six months from the date of the first attempt.  No more than two attempts will be permitted.

Thesis Programs
The candidacy exam has a written component, the student’s research proposal. This proposal must be submitted to all members of the candidacy examining committee at least two weeks before the examination. The candidacy oral can include questions on the research proposal.

Thesis oral examinations are open.

11. Research Proposal Requirements The research proposal is to be submitted in accordance with Faculty of Graduate Studies requirements.
12. Special Registration Information Incoming students meet with the Department of Philosophy Graduate Director to discuss their programs and to decide which courses to take.
13. Financial Assistance Most thesis students admitted to the program receive some level of financial support from the Department. Suitably qualified Master’s students may be given a guarantee of financial support from September of their first year to the end of April of their second year. All doctoral students receive a guarantee of financial support for the four years of their program.
For information on awards, see the Awards and Financial Assistance section of this Calendar.

Students applying for scholarships must submit their applications to the Department by January 15.
14. Other Information None.
15. Faculty Members/Research Interests The faculty’s main interests and specialties can be found at: