Philosophy

Graduate Program

Welcome to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Alberta.  On this page you will find information about the Strengths and Resources of our Department, Special Features of the Graduate Program and information about Teaching and Research in the Department.

Strengths and Resources

Both our PhD and our MA students are fully funded.  We offer a well-rounded program in philosophy, including the traditional areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic, and the history of philosophy. In addition, we have particular strengths in the philosophy of science, aesthetics, political philosophy, biomedical ethics, and the philosophy of language.  With 15 faculty members, our department manages to cover lot of ground without sacrificing the kind of individual attention to students that is the hallmark of all good graduate programs.

Two members of our Department hold prestigious Canada Research Chairs: Kathrin Koslicki holds a Tier 1 CRC in Epistemology and Metaphysics, and Ingo Brigandt a Tier 2 CRC in Philosophy of Biology.  Two Professors are Fellows of the Royal Society of Canada (Bernie Linsky and Rob Wilson).

Graduate students are directly involved in the research of Department members with grants from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, working in areas such as early analytic philosophy (Bernie Linsky), Aristotle (Kathrin Koslicki), early modern philosophy (Amy Schmitter), logic (Katalin Bimbo, Bernie Linsky), environmental ethics (Jenny Welchman), Kant’s aesthetics (Alex Rueger), as well as phenomenology and contemporary French philosophy (Marie-Eve Morin).

If you’re interested in the history of philosophy, we are one of the few departments in Canada with ‘all the bases covered’ in the canonical areas of the history of western philosophy: ancient (Phil Corkum and Kathrin Koslicki), medieval (Jack Zupko), early modern (Amy Schmitter), modern (Jenny Welchman), Kant and 19th-century philosophy (Alex Rueger), and 20th-century philosophy in both the analytic (Bernie Linsky) and continental (Marie-Eve Morin) traditions.  The Journal of the History of Philosophy, the top journal in its field, is now housed at the University of Alberta, under the editorship of Jack Zupko.

Other areas of strength include ethics (Glenn Griener, Howard Nye, Jenny Welchman), philosophy of science (Ingo Brigandt, Alex Rueger, Rob Wilson), philosophy of technology (Geoffrey Rockwell), and non-western philosophy (Neil Dalal, who works in Indian philosophy and the Yogic tradition).

We take the teaching of philosophy very seriously at the University of Alberta.  Teaching Assistants receive extensive training, beginning with our Philosophy 101 ‘SuperSection’ and moving on to TA assignments in upper-division courses culminating in work as a solo instructor.  You can expect a lot of feedback on your efforts in the classroom, which is one reason why our current graduate students continue to win awards for their teaching. The department also has a Philosophy for Children summer camp program, Eurekamp, which employs interested graduate students as counsellors.

Faculty and graduate students are prominent in regional, national and international philosophical communities, including participating at conferences. In recent years, the Department has hosted the congresses of the Western Canadian Philosophical Association, the Society for Exact Philosophy, the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy, and the Canadian Society for Women in Philosophy, as well as several conferences on specific themes. Since 2014, our students have also organized an annual graduate and postgraduate conference. Symposium: Canadian Journal of Continental Philosophy is edited by Marie-Eve Morin,  Amy Schmitter and Ingo Brigandt are executive editors of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy.

We keep our graduate enrollment each year low enough to encourage contact between students and academic staff. At the same time, the total University enrollment of 37,000 students means that the University of Alberta can provide academic facilities and opportunities for interdisciplinary work not available at smaller universities. For example, the University Library is now the second largest in Canada, with around 5 million volumes, including 26,000 serials.

Further information about departmental strengths and interests can be found elsewhere on our website: see also our pages for individual faculty members, graduate students, news items, colloquium listings, past dissertation topics, our placement record, and comprehensive examination committees.

Special Features

The Department provides financial assistance primarily for the support of students in their research and the completion of their degrees rather than to provide low cost instructors. Nonetheless, the Department is concerned to teach students to teach in order to prepare them for employment in universities and colleges. Teaching Assistants begin leading a weekly section of our award winning “PHIL 101” Introduction to Philosophy course under the supervision of a faculty member who lectures and oversees the training of students as teachers. Later in their program students have an opportunity to be sole instructor of their own course, under the mentorship of a faculty member.  

The Department also has an active Philosophy for Children program with outreach to the public schools in which graduate students may participate. Last year, graduate students in the Department organized and led our first philosophy summer camp “Eurekamp!” for children, and plans are afoot for a “Philosopher in Residence” program in public schools that graduate students will participate in.  

Graduate students are also active in presenting their research at conferences and colloquia, with some financial assistance available for travel expenses, and in their own colloquium called the “Publishing Support Group (PSG)” where graduate students read and discuss their papers.

Teaching and Research

The Department maintains a wide range of research interests, covering the traditional areas of metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic and the history of philosophy, as well as having particular strengths in the philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, aesthetics, feminist and political philosophy, biomedical ethics, and certain areas of modern and the history of 20th century philosophy. It is thus able to offer graduate supervision in most areas of philosophy. Each term 6-7 graduate seminars are offered, with some other courses also open to graduate students. At any one time, there may be several reading groups available on a variety of topics. The department also maintains a lively colloquium series, often with distinguished visitors from outside the university.  

Opportunities for interdisciplinary work are available in many fields. The Philosophy Department cooperates frequently with the Departments of Political Science, Psychology, Computing Science, History & Classics, and Women's Studies Program, with the interdisciplinary programs in Humanities Computing and Religious Studies, and with the John Dossetor Health Ethics Centre.  One member of staff specializes in medical ethics and is cross-appointed to the Faculties of Nursing and Public Health, another specialized in Indian Philosophy and is cross-appointed with Religious Studies, and yet another is cross-appointed with Humanities Computing. The Department includes two Canada Research Chairs, with a third Adjunct to the Department and active in graduate teaching and supervision in the Department, and three are members of the Royal Society of Canada. Other faculty members serve on the staff and advisory councils of various interdisciplinary programs. Many members of the Department of Philosophy have served as examiners for other Departments, and vice-versa.