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Department of Philosophy

Explore fundamental and important questions
We use the tools of logic and reason to analyse the complex social and material nature of the world and our place in it.

Philosophy is about learning to think rigorously for yourself so you can defend your positions with considered reasons and cogent arguments. The study of philosophy improves an individual's ability to speak and write clearly, logically and convincingly. These broad skills, along with capacity for independent thought, are highly transferable, powerful aids to success in any profession.

In philosophy we ask deep, often counter-intuitive questions, and don’t mind if they lead to further, even more difficult questions. We encourage critical reflection and debate.

We are highly regarded for our research and teaching as well as our breadth and diversity. The Department of Philosophy at the University of Sydney is home to leading thinkers in a wide range of areas of philosophy, and we offer a rich and varied array of units taught by dedicated and enthusiastic scholars whose outstanding research informs their teaching at every level.

Our study offering

Philosophy formulates and explores questions of fundamental importance to us as human beings.  For example: What is consciousness? Are we free agents? What makes an action right? What makes an action wrong? What is truth, and how can we come by it? How should we form beliefs about the world? Is it possible for machines to think? Studying philosophy will equip you with a disciplined capacity for critical analysis and dramatically enhance your communication skills.


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies degrees.  


Critical thinking workshops for IB High Schools

The Department of Philosophy offers critical thinking workshops for International Baccalaureate (IB) students. 

In the interests of public health and to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff during the current COVID-19 health alert, we have decided to postpone the March 20 and 27 Critical Thinking workshops

We apologise for any inconvenience.

If you would like more information or to enquire regarding future workshops, please feel free to contact us.
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Our research

  • Aesthetics, art, literature and film
  • Philosophy of science (biology and cognitive science)
  • History of philosophy
  • Logic
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Epistemology
  • Decision theory
  • Philosophy of mathematics
  • Philosophy of law
  • Philosophy of language 
  • Pragmatism
  • Moral, social and political philosophy

David Harold Tribe Philosophy Prize



Now open: David Harold Tribe Philosophy Award 2020


The aim of the David Harold Tribe Philosophy Award is to promote interest in philosophy and to help the recipient further their education, enabling them to develop their insights and to advance the general public’s understanding of philosophy.

Applications close Friday, 30 October 2020 at 4 p.m.

The award will be in the sum of $20,000 payable as a one-off payment


  1. This award has been made possible by a generous gift to the University by David Harold Tribe, author and humanist, to promote interest in philosophy. The award provides the recipient funds to further their education in the field of philosophy enabling them to develop their insights and advance the general public’s understanding of philosophy.
  2. The award will be presented to the person who is judged to have written the best published work displaying original thought on philosophy (preferably by a non-academic). The award being made is subject to the judging panel's opinion that the work is of sufficient merit.
  3. The winner will be formally presented with the award at the annual award ceremony hosted by the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry in May 2021.

This award is for an original published book, published not earlier than five years before the closing date by a person normally resident in Australia during the three years prior to the submission of the work

  • Only ONE entry per person
  • Three (3) copies of the book must be submitted with the entry form.
  • Late entries will not be considered.
  • Entries will not be accepted by email or by facsimile transmission.
  • Entries will not be returned.
  • A panel of judges appointed by the University will select the winner. The decision of the judges is final and no further correspondence will be entered into.
  • The winner will be announced on the SOPHI webpage.
For further enquiries please email (with ‘David Harold Tribe Award’ in subject line) or phone 02 9351 2862
The entry must be posted or delivered by hand and arrive at the Office of the School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry no later than 4 p.m. on the closing date, Friday, 30 October 2020, to:
David Harold Tribe Philosophy Award
School of Philosophical and Historical Inquiry
Room 605
A18 Brennan MacCallum
The University of Sydney NSW 2006

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Research centres

Anderson Visiting Fellowships

Anderson Fellowships are bestowed through a bequest of the estate of John Anderson (1893-1962), influential Australian philosopher and Challis Professor of Philosophy at the University of Sydney from 1927 to 1958.

The Anderson Bequest funds travel and expenses up to $17,500, consisting of $2500 airfare and $2500/week living allowance. Anderson Fellows will be provided with office space, library borrowing rights and other resources.

Anderson Fellows are expected to be present at the University of Sydney for the duration of their Fellowship and to make a substantial contribution to the academic life of the Department of Philosophy through collaborative research and contributions to the teaching program.

For further information, please contact our Research Support Officer.

  • 2019: David Bronstein, Carrie Figdor
  • 2018: Amie L Thomasson, Lisa Shapiro
  • 2017: Anna Marmodoro, Natalie Stoljar
  • 2016: Nikk Effingham, Eric Watkins

Our people 

Professor Peter Anstey

Professor Rick Benitez

Professor David Braddon-Mitchell

Dr Carl Brusse

Professor Mark Colyvan

Dr Luara Ferracioli

Professor Moira Gatens

Emeritus Professor Stephen Gaukroger

Professor Paul Griffiths

Dr Brian Hedden

Professor Duncan Ivison

Associate Professor Alexandre Lefebvre

Dr Kate Lynch

Associate Professor David Macarthur

Associate Professor Kristie Miller

Dr Dalia Nassar

Dr Michael Nielsen

Associate Professor Luke Russell

Dr Sebastian Sequoiah-Grayson

Dr Samuel Shpall

Professor Nick Smith

Associate Professor Anik Waldow

Dr Caroline West

Undergraduate coordinator
Professor Rick Benitez

Honours coordinator
Dr Sam Shpall

Higher Degree Research coordinator
Professor Peter Anstey

  • Professor Helen Beebee
  • Professor Douglas Moggach
  • Professor Philip Pettit, FASSA, FAAAS, MRIA, FBA, FAHA
  • Professor Huw Price, FBA, FAHA
  • Professor Paul Redding
  • Professor Paul Thom, FAHA


The Deparment of Philosopy's seminars are moving online. If you would like to sign up for the Department's seminar series, please follow the link below.

Learn more about the University’s advice regarding COVID-19 here.

The Sydphil list

Sign up for the Sydphil mailing list and receive notifications of upcoming seminars.

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