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Learning objectives



Philosophical perspectives

Applied philosophy

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Learning objectives

The New Zealand Curriculum does not state specific achievement objectives for philosophy at levels 6–8. Learning objectives have been developed to describe the intended outcomes for this subject.


The learning objectives for philosophy are structured using four strands:

  • Inquiry
  • Reasoning
  • Philosophical perspectives
  • Applied philosophy


As they move from level to level, students develop their understanding of the key concepts and methods of inquiry, arguing from different philosophical perspectives. They become more sophisticated in their ability to reason and work more independently in applying skills.

Methods of inquiry include clarifying terms, making distinctions, raising objections, exploring assumptions, and evaluating from the perspectives of others.

  • At level 6, the focus is to introduce methods of philosophical inquiry through exploring important questions.
  • At level 7, the focus is to expand methods of philosophical inquiry through exploring a range of questions.
  • At level 8, the focus is to refine a range of methods in philosophical inquiry by exploring questions in greater depth.


Indicators are examples of the behaviours and capabilities that a teacher might expect to observe in a student who is achieving at the appropriate level. Teachers may wish to add further examples of their own.

Context elaborations

Context elaborations are possible contexts for learning, with a suggestion of how they might be used with the focus achievement objective.

The listed context elaborations are examples only. Teachers can select and use entirely different contexts in response to local situation, community relevance, and students’ interests, needs, and cultural backgrounds.

Assessment for qualifications

Suggested achievement and unit standards are given for each learning objective.

Note that, at the time of publication, there are no philosophy-specific achievement standards available. Also, the philosophy unit standards are under review.

At the time of publication, achievement standards were in development to align them with The New Zealand Curriculum. Please ensure that you are using the correct version of the standards by going to the NZQA website.

Aligned level 1 achievement standards were registered for use in 2011 and level 2 for use in 2012; level 3 will be registered for use in 2013.

Learning objectives

Following are the philosophy learning objectives by level and strand. Click on the objective for indicators and possible context elaborations, plus suggested achievement and unit standards.

Students will gain knowledge, skills, and experience to:
Strand Level 6 Level 7 Level 8
Inquiry 6-1: Identify and describe philosophical ideas. 7-1: Describe and explain philosophical ideas. 8-1: Analyse and compare philosophical ideas.
Reasoning 6-2: Identify and describe reasoned arguments. 7-2: Develop reasoned arguments. 8-2: Analyse and evaluate reasoned arguments.
Philosophical perspectives 6-3: Identify and describe ideas in philosophical perspectives. 7-3: Develop and explain ideas in philosophical perspectives. 8-3: Analyse and evaluate ideas in philosophical perspectives.
Applied philosophy 6-4: Identify and describe how philosophical inquiry can be applied to a range of issues. 7-4: Describe and explain how philosophical inquiry can be applied to a range of issues. 8-4: Analyse and evaluate how philosophical inquiry can be applied to a range of issues.

Last updated August 18, 2015