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The Philosophy concentration offers courses covering subjects from ethics to the philosophies of science and literature. It also provides survey courses on various periods in the history of philosophy. Concentrators can expect to acquire a broad competence in philosophy itself, including ancient European and early modern philosophy, logic, ethics or political philosophy, and epistemology or metaphysics. The concentration also teaches, and stresses, skills in critical thinking and writing. There is also a related, but separate concentration in physics and philosophy. 

Standard Concentration 

10 courses total, of which no more than one may be below PHIL 0100, and at least three must be at or above PHIL 0990.

Five Area Requirements:
One course in Ancient Philosophy, e.g.1
Ancient Greek Philosophy
One course in Early Modern Philosophy, e.g. 1
Early Modern Philosophy
Locke, Berkeley, Hume and Others
17th Century Continental Rationalism
Kant: The Critique of Pure Reason
One course in Epistemology or Metaphysics, e.g.1
Philosophy of Mind
Philosophy of Language
One course in Ethics or Political Philosophy, e.g.1
Moral Philosophy
Ethical Themes in the Contemporary American Short Story
Political Philosophy
Ethics in the Novel
Moral Theories
The Nature of Morality
One course in Logic, e.g.1
Mathematical Logic
Advanced Deductive Logic
One Seminar: either an undergraduate seminar from the 099X series, a course numbered 1XXX that is designated as a seminar, or a graduate seminar numbered 2XXX. 1
Four additional courses4
Total Credits10


Up to two appropriate courses from departments other than Philosophy department may be included among the ten courses required for the Concentration.  Appropriate courses must be sufficiently philosophical.  Courses listed on the Philosophy XLIST on Courses@Brown will always count; students can petition for other courses to be counted.  Courses from other departments may not be counted toward fulfillment of the area requirements.

Capstone Requirement

Every philosophy concentrator must complete a capstone project. The capstone will be normally be completed in a student’s last undergraduate year, and it should make use of a significant portion of what the student has learned in their undergraduate education, broadly interpreted. There are three options for the capstone course in philosophy:

  1. A Senior Thesis: A substantial paper, typically about 40-60 pages, that is researched and written over the course of the senior year under the supervision of a faculty advisor. Typically, students writing a thesis will enroll in PHIL 1995, Senior Thesis, both semesters. (In order for a student to be permitted to write a Senior Thesis, they must have completed at least six courses in the concentration and have received a grade either of A or of Satisfactory with Distinction in more than half of them.)
  2. An Independent Study: A one-semester reading course (PHIL 1990) under the direction of a faculty advisor, leading to a substantial research paper, typically 15-25 pages.
  3. A Special Project undertaken in connection with a philosophy course at or above 0990: Examples include a more-in-depth final paper than is otherwise required or a presentation of some of the material to the class, though students are encouraged to make creative proposals, as well. The specific project should be discussed with, and must be approved by, the instructor of the relevant course.

Every philosophy concentrator must file the Declaration of Capstone Project by the end of shopping period in their final semester. For further details on the Honors Thesis and Capstone Requirement, see "Senior Capstone" and "Senior Thesis" on the Department's website.

Honors Requirements:

To qualify for Honors, a student must:

  1. Have grades of either A or Satisfactory with Distinction in more than half their philosophy courses and any courses from outside the department that they are counting towards the concentration.
  2. Successfully complete a Senior Thesis that, in the judgment of the advisor and second reader (to be appointed by the Director of Undergraduate Studies), is worthy of an Honors recommendation.