A NESA Elective

Course Description

Philosophy is a Stage 5 NSW Department of Education approved elective course.

Philosophical thought shapes what people think, value, and how they engage with others and the world around them. Philosophy is concerned with questions of ethics, knowledge, aesthetics and reality. It seeks to shed light on life’s big issues, such as: the nature of reality, how we should live and what it means to be human. Philosophy also grapples with the problems that lie at the foundation of issues of public debate such as artificial intelligence, human rights and freedom of speech.

In this course, students are actively engaged in exploring authentic ethical, social and political dilemmas in philosophy. They are challenged to think rigorously and discuss these issues in communities of inquiry. This engagement in philosophical discussion encourages students to think creatively, critically and collaboratively.

Philosophy equips students with the skills essential for active citizenship in today’s complex global society. Through the study of philosophy, students will develop the skills to think deeply and formulate sound arguments. A study of philosophy will also encourage an open-minded disposition and a willingness to challenge existing beliefs and values.

Course Content

Year 9

Introduction to Philosophy

In this core module, students will learn about the origins of philosophy, explore key questions asked by philosophers and reflect on their own personal philosophy.


Logic, Argument and Reasoning

This core module focuses on what it means to think well. It introduces the basic philosophical skills of argument and reasoning and then allows for the application of these skills in a community of inquiry.



Metaphysics is an area of philosophy related to reality. In this option, students will explore theories of perception, question the reliability of the senses and relate reality to time and consciousness.

Discussion questions include: What exists? How does mind relate to matter? Do objects continue to exist when they aren’t being observed? Does time exist? What is consciousness?


Personal Philosophy

The Greek word ‘telos’ is often translated as ‘end’, ‘goal’ or ‘purpose in life’. In this option, students will explore key thinking on teleology and apply knowledge from the course to reflecting on their own personal philosophy or purpose.

Discussion questions include: Who am I? What is the meaning of life? What does it mean to live a good life? Is happiness the ultimate goal of life?


Year 10

Political Philosophy

This option is a philosophical study of government that explores political philosophies and issues like the enforcement of laws, rights, liberty and concepts of justice. The option also addresses moral judgements about the legitimacy of political action and the scope of public power.

Discussion questions include: What is the best form of government? What rights and freedoms should a government protect? Should the government be able to force you to do things for your own good?



Ethics is an area of philosophy that is concerned with what is morally right and wrong. In this option, students will examine philosophical thinking on ethics and consider what is meant by living a good life.

Discussion questions include: Can rules define morality? Does the end justify the means? Where does morality come from? Is it possible to act against your own interests?



In this option, students will study the nature, origins and limits of human knowledge.

Discussion questions include: What are the limits of knowledge? What is the difference between knowledge and belief? What are the sources of our knowledge in areas such as history, the law and the media, and how reliable are they? Are knowledge, belief and truth relative to different individuals or cultures?


Personal Interest Project

This option provides an opportunity for students to develop their knowledge and understanding of a particular area of learning of relevance and interest to them that is not studied through the core or options.



A varied assessment program gives students the opportunity to build their knowledge and skills and share their ideas in discussion.

  • Community of Inquiry
  • Extended response
  • Viva voce
  • Personal interest project