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PHIL490 Dissertation

A supervised dissertation of 12,000-16,000 words on an approved topic.

In consultation with a primary and a secondary advisor, students pursue independent research for a full year, which culminates in a thesis of 12,000-16,000 words on a topic of the student's choice. The thesis is an original work in philosophical scholarship. In a clear and polished presentation, it should demonstrate a high level of rigour in argument, awareness of relevant literature and relevant technical competence. The project requires substantial preparation, discipline and organisation. Successful completion is an important research qualification for further study in philosophy and related fields. For students entering professional life, it marks an exceptional degree of accomplishment and offers evidence of skills employers value.

Paper title Dissertation
Paper code PHIL490
Subject Philosophy
EFTS 0.5
Points 60 points
Teaching period(s) Full Year (On campus)
1st Non standard period (3 July 2023 - 24 June 2024) (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $3,620.00
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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72 PHIL points at 300-level or above
Limited to
BA(Hons), PGDipArts
Enrolments for this paper require departmental permission.
View more information about departmental permission.

Head of Philosophy programme Associate Professor Zach Weber: (on leave July 2022 through to January 2023: acting Head of Programme Professor James Maclaurin

In the first instance, regarding PHIL490, please contact Philosophy programme postgraduate co-ordinator Professor Alex Miller:

Teaching staff

Teaching staff vary.

Paper Structure

Students meet with prospective advisers at the beginning of the semester. They develop topics and theses, in a tentative form, by the third week and give a brief oral presentation to the whole department. Students propose and arrange work schedules with advisers. Meetings, with discussion of new written work, typically take place bi-weekly. At the beginning of the second semester, students give a more substantial oral presentation to the department. It is expected that a complete draft of the project will be finished by the end of August, leaving a month for final revisions.

Relevant texts will vary with student projects.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the dissertation, students should be able to:

  • Demonstrate familiarity with a range of current positions on their topic
  • Critically evaluate these positions
  • Offer a well-developed oral argument for their own position
  • Write clear, effective and detailed argument
  • Demonstrate competence in technical skills related to their topic, which may include formal logic, textual interpretation, bibliographical, archival and foreign-language skills
  • Demonstrate mastery of relevant literature, which will include works of philosophy. For interdisciplinary project students, the literature will include work in other fields as well, such as political science, economics, physics, biology, religion or history

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Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system

1st Non standard period (3 July 2023 - 24 June 2024)

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system