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Major Programs

Student learning outcomes (SLOs) for the Philosophy majors

General student learning outcomes for all Philosophy majors

In measuring the success of our students, we focus on the very knowledge, skills, and values that we want our majors to acquire in the course of their studies.  Thus, our student learning outcomes (SLOs) are in general: 

  1. Students can explain the main problems of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics.
  2. Students can outline the history of philosophy from ancient to modern times, identifying its major periods, movements, and figures.
  3. Students can give a general account of the thought of at least one systematic philosopher in the history of philosophy and explain at least some of his/her views in depth.
  4. Students can represent the formal structure of an argument.
  5. Students can write an analytical philosophical essay, analyzing and critiquing a philosophical idea or argument, evaluating its soundness and persuasiveness, and developing a counter-position.
  6. Students can articulate their own thoughts clearly in philosophical discussion and in writing.

Student learning outcomes specific to our three major programs

As detailed above, there are specific goals for students depending on the major they opt to pursue.

1. Philosophy Major

The specific goal for our students pursuing a general philosophy degree is to acquire an appreciation of the interplay between the history of philosophy and the problem areas of philosophy.  Courses in the history of philosophy, especially PHIL 211: Greek Philosophy and PHIL 202: Descartes to Kant, emphasize outcomes 2 and 3 above. Required courses in metaphysics (PHIL 354), epistemology (PHIL 352), and ethical theory (PHIL 358) emphasize outcome 1. PHIL 356 emphasizes outcome 4. All required and elective courses contribute to the achievement of outcomes 5 and 6.

2. Philosophy Major with Pre-Law Concentration (30 or 31 hours)

The specific goal for our students pursuing a philosophy degree with a Pre-law concentration is to acquire an appreciation of the interplay between ethical theory, social and legal philosophy, and other areas of philosophy, such as epistemology.  Thus, in addition to the general outcomes for all Philosophy majors emphasized in PHIL 156 or 356, 211, 202, 352, and 358, which are also required for the Pre-Law major, Pre-Law majors should be able to explain the nature and function of public law and its relation to moral belief, as well the role of epistemological questions in legal debates. The achievement of this outcome is the emphasis of PHIL 381: Philosophy of Law and Morals.  Students pursuing this major should also be able to give an account of the major political theories devised in ancient and modern Western philosophy. This outcome is emphasized in PHIL 371 and 372.

3. English-Philosophy Major (45 hours)

The specific goal for our students pursuing a philosophy degree with an English-Philosophy concentration is to acquire an appreciation of the relationship between English literature and Philosophy. Thus, in addition to the general outcomes for all Philosophy majors emphasized in the Philosophy courses recommended for the English-Philosophy major, English-Philosophy majors should be able to articulate how philosophy and literature have mutually informed and influenced each other. The achievement of this outcome is emphasized in PHIL 480: Philosophy and Literature.