About Philosophy at Rhodes University

The Rhodes University Philosophy Department prides itself on its eclectic range of teaching and research interests, ranging over a broad spectrum of philosophical traditions, from African, Ancient, Medieval and Chinese Philosophy to contemporary Analytic as well as Continental debates in Epistemology, Metaphysics, Political Philosophy, Feminism, Critical Race Theory, and more. 

We encourage independent thought and welcome critical engagement between students and lecturers at all levels. There is no party line. There are no pre-digested answers to the questions we pursue and the inquiries our courses make. The friendly and informal atmosphere of the Department aims at encouraging students to find their own voice via a deep and informed engagement with other voices from a variety of different times, places and perspectives. And this is why the Philosophy Department boasts an illustrious and highly acclaimed set of former and contemporary students and staff. We believe that this is a happy place to be, and a special discipline in which to anchor the pursuit of learning and wisdom.

Apart from the usual range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, the Philosophy Department is also associated with the Allan Gray Centre for Leadership Ethics. The Centre pursues an extraordinary vision of how to promote ethical and responsible leadership through a range of exciting and distinctive courses. Many of our students find great value in pursuing studies in both Philosophy and AGCLE at the same time.


Rhodes University's websites are currently undergoing a major reconstruction. We apologise for the inconvenience. For information on this years undergraduate and honours courses click the relevant link below. For information about Master's, PhD degrees, or anything else having to do with Rhodes Philosophy, please feel free to contact us.

Philosophy 1

Please click here to see our current course offerings for first year philosophy.

Philosophy 2

Please click here to see our current course offerings for second year philosophy.

Philosophy 3 and Honours

Please click here to see our current course offerings for third year and honours.


Click here for the list of upcoming Rhodes Departmental seminars.

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Philosophy 2

Philosophy 102 (PHI102) is a first-year, second semester course aimed at introducing students to philosophical ideas, issues and methods not dealt with in PHI 101, with the focus typically but not always being on issues in Ethics.

The course bears 15 credits at NQF Level 5. There are no entrance requirements.
DP requirements: at least 35% for course work.
Assessment: Coursework 40%; June exam 60%.
Supplementary exam: June result 45 – 49%
No aggregation.


Term 3

Consciousness in a physical world (Tess Dewhurst)

What is consciousness? Is there a distinction between the mind and the brain? If they are two different things, how do we make sense of how they relate? Is consciousness something that separates us humans from other animals? Is it something that makes us different to computers? By reading historical and contemporary contributions to the philosophy of mind, we will look at these questions, and at the kinds of answers available. The aim is not to settle on a particular response, but to come to understand what is at stake, and how to navigate within the debate.


Term 4

Philosophy, Wisdom, and Identity (Ward Jones)


The Ancient Greek word philosophia meant, literally, ‘love of wisdom’, but the word has come to be used for a theoretical discipline studied and carried out mostly within a university setting. The question ‘What is philosophy?’ is, indeed, a philosophical question, and the various answers to it are both contested and challenged. We will begin by looking at a challenge, by the African-American philosopher Kirstie Dotson, to current English-language philosophy, namely that it is alienating and unwelcome to those who are not White and male. In the remainder of the class we will be engaging with this challenge, by looking at various conceptions of what philosophy is or might be, and by looking at what various philosophers [e.g., Aristotle, Odera Oruka] have said about its relationship with wisdom. One form of wisdom which I will be especially interested in is the [perhaps Aristotelian] transformation of the self which occurs in what we might call ‘consciousness-raising’ – roughly, who we become as we respond to an understanding of how social injustice morally damages (each of) our lives.

Last Modified: Thu, 07 Mar 2024 16:32:10 SAST