Philosophy and Religion

Why a PhD or Research Masters in Philosophy & Religion at Newcastle?

Philosophy aims to examine the fundamental assumptions that inform people's thinking and lives, and in the process to show how they can do so for themselves. This involves looking at the arguments for or against various positions, examining their historical, cultural and intellectual contexts, and critically appraising and evaluating those arguments. Precisely because of its fundamental nature, philosophy has its roots right back to the ancient Greeks and other ancient civilisations, and has been a long-standing part of the university.

"The unexamined life is not worth living" (Socrates, 399 BCE)

"The unexamined life is not worth living" (Socrates, 399 BCE)

Areas of research and teaching

Research and teaching in Philosophy and Religion at Newcastle are undertaken in a number of areas:

1 Reality and Knowledge – metaphysics, the study of the most general features of reality, such as existence, time, the relationship between mind and body, objects and their properties, events, processes, and causation; and epistemology, what it is to know anything, and how (if at all) we can acquire this knowledge.

2 Ethics and Politics - how should we live as individuals and how we should organize our societies? This involves questions such as: What are the proper limits to state power? Is Democracy is best system of government? Or at a more personal level, is pleasure the only thing that is good in itself? What is the right way of distributing benefits and burdens?

3 Religion – the critical examination of the history, literature, beliefs and ideas of the major religious traditions of the world, and their bearing on questions of knowledge, reality, ethics and politics.

The Philosophy and Religion staff address these areas in their research and teaching through a range of approaches, including the Anglo-American analytic tradition, Continental philosophy, comparative philosophy and textual-hermeneutic analysis.

World-class research

Dr Tim StanleyPhilosophy and Religion staff members are acknowledged as experts in their respective fields. Their research has been published in the highest rated journals for their disciplines in the world. Areas of research and publication include moral epistemology, the philosophy of Socrates, and ancient approaches to the question of how one should live; the ethics of the modern market; philosophy of science and scientific method, realism and anti-realism, and personal identity; Sartre and existentialism, Foucault and post-structuralism, and philosophy and film; classical Chinese Philosophy, philosophy of medicine, and complex systems; continental philosophy of religion, and philosophical hermeneutics.

The University of Newcastle's (UON) Philosophy and Religion academics are engaged in international collaboration with researchers from many prestigious institutions in Europe (University of Bristol; University of Manchester;University of Oxford), North America (Williams College, Massachusetts) and Asia (Fudan University; Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing; University of Hong Kong).

PhD and Masters by Research students will benefit from our supportive network of world-class researchers. Our Religion and Religious Studies and Philosophy and Religious Studies were rated as 'Above World Standard' by Excellence in Research for Australia (ERA) 2015.

What you can Research

Research proposals are invited in the following areas:

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of science
  • Philosophy of medicine
  • Philosophy of the good life
  • Moral epistemology
  • Contractarianism
  • Rational choice theory
  • Ethics and politics
  • Ethics and economics
  • Sartre and Existentialism
  • Foucault and Post-structuralism
  • Philosophy and film
  • Chinese philosophy
  • Comparative philosophy
  • Philosophical hermeneutics
  • Continental philosophy of religion
  • Religion and deliberative democracy

Research Methodologies

Philosophy and Religion employs a number of research methodologies:

  • Analytic: reflection on philosophical problems through the logical analysis of key terms, concepts or propositions, and the relations those parts stand in.
  • Continental: historical reflection on the conditions of experience; examination of philosophical problems viewed as historically emergent, focusing on their underlying assumptions.
  • Comparative methodologies: interpreting ideas in their literary and historical context, using the culture's philosophical traditions; using concepts from one philosophical tradition to understand those of another.
  • A critical, philological, and logically rigorous discourse-analysis approach to the subject of religion, focusing on the coherency, transmission and history of religious ideas.

Find a supervisor

Before you apply, contact a supervisor to discuss possible research projects. This will allow you to frame your proposal to align with established disciplines and areas of supervisor capacity, as well as identify possible inter-disciplinary supervision in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences..

  • Dr Chris Falzon: Ethics, social and political philosophy, philosophy and film, existentialism, Foucault
  • Dr Yin Gao (secondary supervisor): Classic Chinese philosophy, comparative philosophy, philosophy of medicine, philosophy of complex adaptive systems
  • Dr Joe Mintoff: Contractarianism, examined life, good life, happiness, moral epistemology, moral philosophy, rational choice theory, Socrates
  • Dr Timothy Stanley: Continental philosophy of religion, hermeneutics, deliberative democracy, modern religious thought, history of ideas
  • Dr John Wright: Ethics and economics, metaphysics, philosophy of science

How to Apply

Current Graduate Studies in Philosophy & Religion

There are a number of research projects being undertaken by graduate students in the area of Philosophy and Religion at Newcastle. Take a look at some current and recent topics:

  • Words and the World: A Critique of Straight Solutions to Kripke's Meaning Scepticism
  • A Comparative Phenomenological Approach to the Philosophical Foundations of Chinese Science
  • On Moral Abolitionism: is it Possible and Rational not to Believe in Morality?
  • Religion of Labour and Democracy: Socialism according to Anatoly Lunacharsky