Philosophy Department


A portfolio is a sampling of your best work neatly packaged for presentation to evaluators. Often visual artists prepare portfolios of their creative work for juried competitions, entrance to schools, or for potential employers. Your Philosophy portfolio will consist of essays and research papers that you have written, developed, edited, and organized for presentation to a department faculty committee.


The one-credit course, PHI4951: Philosophy Portfolio is required of all Philosophy students graduating under catalogs for academic years 2000-2001 through 2005-06. Students should enroll in this course in their final semester of study at UCF and seek the advice of several faculty in preparing this project. Following, however, are some answers to frequently asked questions regarding this requirement.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Should Go Into My Portfolio?

Your portfolio should include the following items, in order:

  1. Title Page:
  2. The title page should list the following:
    • Your name
    • Semester of submission (e.g. Fall 2005, Spring 2006)
    • Your student number
    • Your academic program (Philosophy)
    • Anticipated date of graduation
    • 3 faculty signature lines
  3. Table of contents indicating contents and starting page numbers of contents.
  4. Preface:
    This should be 500-1000 words long and describe briefly the contents of the portfolio. In describing the essays, research papers, or other contents, you should indicate:
    • the class for which each piece was originally written
    • the role that class and that assignment played in your Philosophy major. For example:
    • Was it a "foundations", "disciplinary and interdisciplinary knowing", or "applications" course?
    • What information and skills were emphasized in that course? (i.e. what were the course objectives?)
    • How did this specific assignment assist you in synthesizing or critically assessing course information? In developing relevant skills? (i.e. how did this assignment help you to meet the course objectives?)
    • how that class and that assignment related to your other studies;
    • a description of work you have done to revise, develop or edit the included papers since they were originally submitted as coursework.
    • how the combined contents of your portfolio demonstrate your process of learning about Philosophy and your present knowledge of the Philosophy. For example: Did you come to understand yourself, your education, and/or your society differently in the course of studying Philosophy?
    • How did your perspective(s) on knowledge, values, and/or the nature of the good life change?
    • What personal, spiritual and/or intellectual goals have you achieved by studying Philosophy?
    • What values and goals arising from your studies will you continue to pursue or do you expect will shape your life?
    • Are there goals and values previously held that you have set aside or decided not to work towards?
  5. Essays, Research Papers, or other Creative Work:
    Your portfolio should include 3-5 pieces of your best work. The contents must include:
    • At least one paper written for a Philosophy Foundations course
    • At least one paper written for a Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Knowing course
    • At least one paper written for an Applications course
    • At least one research paper, including a works cited page prepared according to a recognized style guide (either the MLA or the Chicago Guide to Style)
    • At least 25 total pages (typed, double-spaced) of writing.
  6. Your portfolio may also include other written work assigned for relevant courses (e.g. journal writing, poetry etc.) or non-written creative work (e.g. software creation, visual art, audio or video productions) in addition to the required Foundations, Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Knowing, and Applications papers. However, portfolios should not include examinations.

What is a Research Paper?

Research means different things in different disciplines. Research in philosophy entails reading philosophers' original theories and arguments as contained in their scholarly books and journal articles and developing one's own original position (and arguments in support of this position) on the basis of that reading. Typical grading criteria for a research paper are: clarity of thesis, support for thesis, awareness of objections to thesis and to its supporting reasoning, awareness of literature where relevant on thesis and its supporting reasoning, overall coherence of line of thought, contribution to the philosophical discussion on a given topic. This means that your research paper must have a single thesis that you investigate for several pages. Otherwise it won't even be considered a research paper. It also means that you normally need to research philosophy journals for relevant articles to your thesis. Usually a few books are involved as well. A good way to develop your research paper is to use the Philosopher's Index. Look up articles relevant to your topic or thesis, select those that interest you and then work off of one of those. The reference librarians are also happy to assist you in locating books and articles relevant to your philosophical topic.

How Should Material Be Arranged for Submission?

Please arrange materials in the order given above, namely: A title page followed by your preface, followed by your papers. Papers may be included either a) in the order in which they were written, in order to demonstrate your chronological sequence of learning; or b) according to the three parts of your curriculum, namely, Philosophical Foundations, Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Knowing, and Applications, in order to highlight this conceptual sequence. Be sure to note in your preface which principle of ordering you have used. All Philosophy portfolios should be submitted in a thin, black, three ring binder. Please place your name, an indication of contents, and the term of submission on the binder spine (e.g. Josephine Doe, Portfolio Submission, Spring 2006)

When Is My Portfolio Due?

Your portfolio is due no later than one month prior to the last day of classes. This is to allow time for evaluation to occur and, moreover, time for you to make revisions if the evaluation committee decides this is necessary. Failure to submit your portfolio in a timely fashion is likely to delay your graduation. Please do not put yourself or the committee in this situation. To avoid the last minute crunch, see "What Is the Process of Compiling and Editing my Portfolio?" below.

To Whom Do I Submit my Portfolio?

Your final portfolio should be submitted to the Chair of the Department of Philosophy, who will convene a committee of faculty members to evaluate your submission. You are strongly encouraged to work with departmental faculty during the process of compiling and editing your portfolio, prior to final submission. If you follow the schedule below and submit requested materials, you will get feedback from departmental faculty.

What is the Process of Compiling and Editing my Portfolio?

Your portfolio should go through several revisions during the semester. Here is a general timeline that should keep you on track. You are required to consult with your instructor about the specific due dates involved. Missing the deadlines for final submissions of material puts your graduation at risk.

  • Week 1: Find and read the various papers that you have submitted for Philosophy classes. Determine which papers best represent your learning in each of the areas of Foundations, Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Knowing, and Applications. Determine which paper will additionally serve as your research paper. Begin collecting journal articles and books relevant to your research paper, if you have not already examined the relevant literature. If you desire feedback: List of papers to be used to meet each required area.
  • Weeks 2 and 3: Begin revisions on these works. Start by correcting any typographical, spelling, and grammatical errors and responding to any comments received by the instructor for whom you originally wrote the work. Make sure references are provided where appropriate and that your research paper and any other relevant papers include a works cited page, properly formatted. Make sure that your research paper has a clear thesis and an argument supporting that thesis. Add references to additional scholarly materials you have consulted, where relevant to the development of your research paper. If you desire feedback: First page of research paper (with clear thesis statement).
  • Week 4: Complete revisions on all contents, except your research paper and preface. Continue working on your research paper. If you desire feedback: Draft copy of one or more portfolio papers, except research paper.
  • Week 5: While awaiting feedback on your other papers, work on your research paper. This should be 7-10 pages long, have a clear thesis and clear supporting arguments in support of that thesis. It should indicate the ability to anticipate counter-arguments to your claims and respond to these. It should reference both primary and secondary philosophical works. If you desire feedback: Submit your research paper for review.
  • Weeks 6 and 7: Continue revising and developing all of your papers. Spend time at the University Writing Center if you have been advised to do so. Proofread each paper carefully for spelling, grammar and clear use of language. Once your have received feedback on your research paper, respond carefully to this feedback. Spend time doing further research at the library if you have been advised to do so. Provide further argumentation in support of claims where needed. Clarify lines of argument where these are unclear. Ensure you have referenced all sources used and that your works cited page is properly formatted. Review your works cited page to ensure it includes primary as well as secondary sources.
  • Weeks 8 and 9: Organize your papers in the binder. Write your preface. Paginate works in your binder consecutively (with Preface starting at p. 1 and subsequent works beginning at whatever page number follows the last page of the previous entry.) Prepare a table of contents and your cover page. If you desire feedback: Submit preface for review.
  • Week 10: Submit your portfolio for evaluation by departmental committee. Submit hardcopy in binder of Portfolio, 1 month prior to end of classes. (NOTE: MEETING THIS DEADLINE IS NOT OPTIONAL. Check with the instructor for the precise deadline.)
  • Weeks 11-13: You will be contacted and told either a) that your portfolio is satisfactory (Good job! You are done!) or b) that further work is needed in order to receive a grade of satisfactory (Time is running out.)
  • Weeks 14-15: Respond to any committee suggestions as effectively as possible and re-submit portfolio. Leave the original assessment sheets (the sheets that contain the comments from reviewing faculty members) in your portfolio. Otherwise, the committee may be unable to review prior to the deadline for submission of grades.

How Will My Portfolio be Evaluated?

Your portfolio will be evaluated as "satisfactory" or "unsatisfactory" by a three-person faculty committee. In the case of an unsatisfactory rating, you will be given an opportunity to revise and develop your portfolio further for resubmission, as described above. In determining whether a portfolio is satisfactory, the committee will examine it according to the following criteria:

  • Inclusion of required contents
  • Professionalism in appearance
  • Clarity and organization of writing
  • Knowledge of Philosophical foundations, Disciplinary and Interdisciplinary Knowing, and Applications. More specifically:
    • Demonstrated ability to identify theses in various forms of writing
    • Demonstrated ability to identify the arguments given in support of philosophical claims.
    • Demonstrated ability to assess philosophical arguments.
    • Demonstrated ability to identify philosophical assumptions at work in diverse disciplinary and/or interdisciplinary endeavors (e.g. religion, law, psychology, cognitive science, social science, biology, physics, etc.)
    • Demonstrated ability to apply philosophical knowledge and skills to understanding contemporary social issues and problems.
  • Ability to conduct philosophical research. More specifically:
    • Demonstrated ability to formulate a clear thesis
    • Demonstrated ability to provide arguments in support of that thesis
    • Demonstrated ability to discuss literature relevant to that thesis
    • Demonstrated ability to anticipate and respond to possible objections to one's line of reasoning
    • Demonstrated ability to use appropriate reference and citation form
  • Self-reflection concerning one's own process of learning.
  • Academic Integrity: Do not plagiarize. All references used, even where not directly quoted, must be cited. Failure to properly indicate the use of another person's ideas is grounds for an "unsatisfactory" rating. You will need to retake the course and delay your graduation.

What Will Happen to My Portfolio?

Your portfolio will be kept in the Philosophy Department library as a sample for future portfolio students and as a reference for students doing research in your areas. As it will not be returned to you, you are encouraged to make a copy for yourself.

Philosophy Department • College of Arts & Humanities at the University of Central Florida
Phone: 407-823-2273 Fax: 407-823-6658  •