Concentration Requirements

The official list of requirements for the Philosophy concentration appears in the University Bulletin and supersedes anything below, which adds a bit of detail and explanation. Please note that Philosophy courses were renumbered beginning Fall 2021. Numbers in parentheses refer to courses from before the renumbering. So what is now 0640, for example, used to be 0540.

Learning Goals

Students in philosophy will:

  • Learn to think analytically and creatively about philosophical texts and issues
  • Understand the work of major figures in the history of philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, Descartes and Kant
  • Become familiar with arguments and approaches in metaphysics or epistemology, and a selection of other areas of philosophy, such as philosophy of mind and philosophy of language; as well as topics in ethics and political philosophy
  • Know how to carry out logical proofs and derivations within a formal system
  • Produce a significant body of written work


The concentration requires 10 courses total, of which no more than one may be below PHIL 0100 (0350), and at least three must be at or above PHIL 0990.

There are five area (or 'distribution') requirements:

  1. One course in Ancient Greek Philosophy
    Typically, PHIL 0110 (0350), though most other courses numbered 01XX and 11XX also satisfy this requirement.

  2. One course in Early Modern Philosophy
    Typically, PHIL 0210 (0360), though most other courses numbered 02XX and 12XX also satisfy this requirement.

  3. One course in Logic
    Typically, PHIL 0640 (0540), though most other courses numbered 06XX or 16XX also satisfy this requirement.

  4. One course in Epistemology or Metaphysics
    Most courses numbered 07XX, 08XX, 17XX and 18XX satisfy this requirement.

  5. One course in Ethics or Political Philosophy
    Most courses numbered 04XX, 05XX, 14XX, and 15XX satisfy this requirement.

Some courses may satisfy more than one requirement. For example, Hellinistic Ethics could be used to satisfy either the Ancient European requirement or the Ethics/Political requirement. No such course can be 'double-counted', however: Five separate courses must be used to satisfy these five requirements.

Up to two courses from departments other than the Philosophy department may be included among the ten courses required for the Concentration. The general rule is that they should be 'philosophy-ish'. Courses that are listed on the Philosophy XLIST on Courses@Brown will always count; students can petition for other courses to be counted. Courses in other departments may not be counted toward fulfillment of the area requirements.

Students are also required to take at least one seminar. Normally, these courses are the undergraduate seminars numbered 09XX, 1000-level courses numbered 1X9X (e.g., 1195), or graduate seminars numbered in the 2000s. (Undergraduates do need the instructor's permission to take 2000-level courses, but seniors especially often do so.) Other discussion-based courses can be counted as fufiling the seminar requirement with permission of the instructor and DUS. Note that the seminar can also satisfy one of the distribution requirements (whereas a single course cannot satisfy two distribution requirements at the same time).

All philosophy students are also required to complete a capstone. For details on that, see the Capstone page.

Honors in Philosophy

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.