The Faculty of Philosophy

Home / Philosophy

Simon Nolan White Background
Welcome to Philosophy at St Patrick’s Pontifical University Maynooth. Studying a philosophy programme at St Patrick’s can be both an exciting and challenging experience. At St Patrick’s we offer programmes to suit a wide range of needs and interests. Learn more about our offerings here below. We look forward to welcoming you to St Patrick’s and the study of philosophy.

- Dr Simon Nolan, O.Carm

About Philosophy

The study of philosophy at St Patrick’s Pontifical University enjoys a long and august tradition. Philosophy has been taught here since the foundation of St Patrick’s in 1795, and it includes amongst its associates (both alumni and staff) such figures as Thomas Hussey (first president and friend of Edmund Burke), Charles William Russell (who translated Leibniz, was a friend of John Henry Newman, and after whom the Russell library is named), Peter Coffey (Neoscholastic philosopher, student of Mercier, and author of a number of manuals of philosophy), Nicholas Callan (noted scientist and engineer who taught natural philosophy at St Patrick’s) along with more recent figures such as Cahal Daly, Desmond Connell, Philip Pettit.

Philosophy at St Patrick’s Pontifical University situates itself within the perennial tradition in philosophy whilst at the same time addressing contemporary concerns. Faithful to the root meaning of philosophy as “the love of wisdom”, the Faculty of Philosophy seeks to awaken and nurture this sense of wonder in students, as it raises fundamental questions about human existence, such as the nature of the human person, happiness, justice, the good life, knowledge, freedom, and being itself. It helps students to think these questions through in a clear and rigorous manner so that they can learn how to lead “the examined life”. The strength of philosophy at St Patrick’s lies in its promotion of the distinctive contribution that Christian philosophers have made to philosophy whilst at the same time making use of that contribution to further discussions in which both Christians and non-Christians are engaged. Thus staff and students are at home in all of the traditional areas of philosophy (metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, logic) along with the thinkers of the great tradition (Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas etc); yet at the same time we engage, and deeply converse with, more contemporary philosophers (Heidegger, Russell, Quine, Wittgenstein, Przywara, Stein, von Balthasar, Marcel, Marion, Girard, Agamben, Kearney, Desmond, McDowell etc).

An education in philosophy from St Patrick’s will ensure that the student is conversant with key themes and figures in the history of philosophy whilst becoming equipped to make a contribution to on-going concerns in contemporary thought from within a distinctively Christian vision of reality that is dynamic and plurivocal.

The study of philosophy develops critical thinking skills that are useful for many career paths. While certain students go on to an academic career in philosophy, all students are encouraged to become philosophical, by acquiring the skills to build arguments, examine assumptions, and evaluate worldviews.

Our internationally recognized scholars in the Faculty of Philosophy have published their articles in scholarly journals and their books with academic presses. They present papers at international philosophy conferences. They are committed to making the voice of philosophy heard in the public square. Echoing the words of a former Dean of the Faculty, Professor Thomas A.F. Kelly, they believe that “the voice or voices of the university must be heard in all matters of public concern, and this means not just having relevant expertise, but a viable and accurate, ethical and logical Weltanschauung, which includes a theory of what constitutes best practice in the art of decision-making. The dictum ‘know thyself’ is as relevant to organisations as it is to individuals.” Finally, the members of the faculty are happy to offer their expert guidance to students at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

We offer degrees at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels, and we encourage any student interested in philosophy to contact us.

Due to the generous funding of the Peter Coffey Scholarship in philosophy, my doctoral studies at St Patrick’s Pontifical University have surpassed my expectations. Accommodation and study reside upon the beautiful grounds of their eighteenth-century campus, wherein there exists a small but amiable atmosphere of students and staff. It is a welcoming place for any student of theology and philosophy, with a sizeable and hospitable theology faculty and an exciting and growing philosophy faculty that can accommodate a wide range of interests and studies. For any student interested in studying philosophy or theology abroad in a distinctly Christian atmosphere, St Patrick’s should be at the top of their list.

Joseph McMeans Doctorate in Philosophy

For me the possibility to teach as guest lecturer at St Patrick's was a great intellectual and cultural experience. The staff welcomed me warmly and the students did not only have profound philosophical knowledge, but also a deep-rooted existential interest in philosophical questions. I can only encourage everyone, who is willing to teach in a foreign language, to make the same experience.

Benjamin Hahn Research assistant at the University of Passau

The Future of Christian Thinking 2022

‘Analogy, Desire, and Imitation’ An international workshop hosted by St Patrick's Pontifical University

Speaker segments from the Analogy, Desire, and Imitation Workshop held in St Patrick’s Pontifical University, Maynooth in April 2023, available here


Dr Gaven Kerr

Dr Gaven Kerr

Academic Registrar; Lecturer in Philosophy

Dr Philip Gonzales

Dr Philip Gonzales

Lecturer in Philosophy


News and Events

Fri May 24th, 2024

Diploma in Church Music final-year students

Tue May 21st, 2024

Prof Michael A. Conway will lead a workshop at University Hospital Kerry as part of the Clinical Pastoral Education programme next Monday, the 27th May

Mon May 20th, 2024

Book Launch – Missed Treasures of the Holy Spirit

Explore our Other Faculties



Canon Law

Canon Law

If you live outside Ireland, check out our dedicated area for international students.

Let’s talk

For Undergraduate queries: email

For Postgraduate queries: email

For The Centre for Mission & Ministries queries, email: