Why study philosophy? Advice for prospective students


I was asked by our philosophy department to write an almuni profile, to be used at open days etc. This is it, with an explanation of why I think philosophy is such a useful subject to study

Dr Robert O’Toole NTF, Philosophy 1991-1994

I studied Philosophy at Warwick, gaining a first, between 1991 and 1994. In 2015 I completed a PhD on Design Thinking. I’ve worked at Oxford University and Warwick as a pioneer in the field of learning technologies. My current role as Senior Academic Technologist and National Teaching Fellow at Warwick is a kind of consultancy and strategy role, aiming to improve how we do teaching, and to enhance the technologies and services that we provide. It’s an extremely varied, exciting and challenging role that draws on my capability for seeking and synthesising information from many sources, critical and creative thinking, facilitating collaborations, and designing innovative events, systems and services. In fact, it depends upon all the skills that I first developed through studying Philosophy at Warwick!

I made sure that I got the most out of those three years, and took all of the opportunities available. I was President of the Philosophy Society for two years, and organised and chaired lectures and seminars with many guest philosophers, often big names, from around the world. I now get paid a lot of money to do very similar work. I also edited and wrote for our newsletter, helped to set up a magazine/journal, and did my own independent research – all very much like the work that I now do. I’ve got a really good, and highly paid job, with an international profile, because of this. Most importantly, I can apply those powerful philosophical skills, along with a rare combination of other capabilities (designing, IT, teaching, communications, consultancy, leadership) – the kind combination of skills that is most sought after by the best employers today.


Dr Robert O'Toole NTF

Senior Teaching Fellow, Arts Faculty, University of Warwick. Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, National Teaching Fellow, Warwick Award for Teaching Excellence.

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