Welcome

Professor Nicholas Smith

Nicholas Smith

I am delighted that you are considering the study of Philosophy at the University of Sydney. We’re very proud of our Department. We have leading thinkers in a wide range of areas of Philosophy. No Philosophy department in the southern hemisphere is more highly regarded for its research and teaching, and we have the greatest range and diversity of any of them. We strive to provide you with a rich and varied array of units taught by dedicated and enthusiastic scholars whose outstanding research informs our teaching at every level. Our aim is to excite, provoke, and stimulate you to reflect and argue insightfully about almost anything.

We offer the study of both classic and novel approaches to philosophical matters from the great philosophers of the past to cutting-edge developments, in ethics, logic, epistemology, metaphysics and aesthetics. Philosophy is about learning to think for yourself. The intellectual autonomy of philosophy doesn’t just come from having ideas that you call your own–it comes from having ideas that you understand well enough to make them your own.

The wider you extend the range of your intellectual autonomy, the more philosophical you will be. Our department seeks to provide the sort of curriculum and training that will foster such development. We ask difficult, often counter-intuitive, questions and don’t mind if the first question leads to further even more difficult questions! Philosophy at Sydney is a diverse and welcoming community and we extend a warm invitation to you to join us in critical reflection and debate. Students of philosophy can expect radical improvements in their abilities to speak and write clearly, logically, and convincingly. These skills, along with the quintessential philosophical bent for independent thought, are powerful aids to future success in any profession.

Philosophy at the University of Sydney has an enviable record of placing its students in excellent graduate schools and academic positions. Our former students work in areas as diverse as law, education, government, NGOs, the private sector, and the arts. The broad skills you will acquire in philosophy are highly transferable to many desirable professions. Finally–and as many who have studied philosophy in a serious manner will know–a brief acquaintance with philosophy can turn into a lifelong love for an endlessly fascinating and loyal companion.

Nicholas Smith
Professor and Chair,
Department of Philosophy