I joined the programme after finishing my Psychology Bachelor. In the first semester of the last year of this bachelor I took the Philosophy Minor. It was there that I was introduced to a topic that made everything else I had ever learned about pale in comparison: Metaethics. When I returned to psychology I tried to integrate my new found passion in my studies, writing my thesis on the effects of empathy on metaethical attitudes. While writing my thesis, I realised that I enjoyed the philosophical work a lot more than the psychological work. So, I made an appointment with the faculty’s student advisor, hoping some arrangement could be made, but feeling rather pessimistic about it.
A programme tailored to me
The conversation I had that day characterises how the faculty sees its students. The emphasis was not on whether I had the right skill-set or profile to fit the programme, but on how the programme could be tailored to me, so that it would be conducive to my goals. The presumption appeared to be that I would succeed, given that I received the right guidance. I have set my goals (even) higher now, having decided to use the programme as a pre-master for the Research Master in Philosophy, which has quite strict selection criteria. I tend to get overwhelmed from time to time, when I think about having to meet these criteria. But, as I said before, I never get discouraged and that is because there is always someone, staff or student, who will take the time to take you through the material again, answer your questions and address your doubts, or to provide you with the necessary encouragement.
Learn from some of the brightest minds in philosophy
What you take from the programme strongly depends on your personal interests and background. No matter which courses you choose to follow, however, you will have the opportunity to learn from some of the brightest minds in philosophy. Though these philosophers all have their own take on what philosophy is about and which questions are relevant, there is one thing each and every one will teach you. You will learn to evaluate, and more importantly, value your own thoughts and ideas. Now, I believe this is something that you can only learn by doing philosophy. The moment you walk into your first lecture, and here I paraphrase prof. dr Martin Lenz, you join the huge conversation that is philosophy. Lecturers will ask you about your take on a philosophical problem, or your objections to a position, because your input is considered valuable. After a while, you will – hopefully – learn to see this too, and be able to contribute your unique views and ideas to the philosophical conversation.
Lectures are very interactive
Most importantly perhaps, the programme is also a lot of fun. Lectures are very interactive, so there is plenty of room for discussion with your lecturers and peers. There is a wide of range of interesting and challenging topics you can study, and when you find a topic you love chances are that there will be someone on staff that will happily take the time to tell you all about it. STUFF, the Faculty’s study association, organises all kinds of study-related and social activities, that will make your experience as a philosophy student even more enjoyable. To summarize, if you enrol in the Philosophy of a Specific Discipline Programme you will run a serious risk of never wanting to return to your main field of study. But that’s alright, because it’s never too late to become of a philosopher.