Academic Programme of the Philosophy Department

Duration and Focus:
The Bigard Memorial Seminary, Enugu, offers a single bachelor’s degree in philosophy in four years of eight semesters. Each academic year consists therefore of two semesters lasting about 33 weeks of actual teaching and examinations.

The orienting and guiding philosophy of our department is informed by the famous assertion and philosophy of Francis Bacon that “Knowledge is power”, in addition to the motto of this ecclesiastical Institute, Bigard: “Eritis Mihi Testes” (You will be my witnesses. (Mat. 24:16). That witnessing necessarily needs the power of knowledge.

Furthermore, it is the belief not only of this Institute but of the universal Catholic Church that formation in philosophy is a necessary intellectual requirement and preparation for a better and clearer understanding and clarification of theology, which is the vocation of priests. No wonder then that philosophy during the medieval period was given the function of being in service to theology – ancilla theologiae (the handmaid of theology). Even historically speaking, the Patristics (the Church Fathers) were drawn to philosophy necessitated by the unavoidable need to answer the then critical pagan philosophers in their own terms and grounds. Today, peoples among whom priests will be working as teachers and leaders have become more rational, critical and sophisticated than their forefathers. To be able to meet such intellectual challenges in their fields of work, priests need to be well grounded in philosophy which trains one in rational, critical and logical thinking.

Even biblically, God, through the prophet, Hosea, made knowledge a necessary qualification for the office of the priesthood: “My people perish for want of knowledge. Since you yourself have rejected knowledge, so I shall reject you from my priesthood.”(Hosea. 4:6)

 Program and Objective:

  1. The programme of studies in our department is designed to achieve two main objectives:
    a. Because the role of leadership of any kind in our world of today needs relevant knowledge in and of the field in which the leadership is to be exercised, philosophical knowledge (and a critical mind) should be seen as a universal enzyme;
  2. “Many are called but few are chosen.”(Mat. 20:16) The programme is also designed to help those seminarians who enter the seminary with the genuine intention to become priests but who eventually do not make it, not to leave the seminary empty-handed, instead, to leave it having something still relevant in today’s world to fall back to as they struggle to readjust and survive outside the seminary. It is hoped that this philanthropic intention will not be exploited and abused.

The program aims at making the students to be versatile in our fast and changing world. The students are provided with principles with which to respond to the challenges of the modern world. Equipped with this educational background, they can comfortably make meaningful contributions in other fields of human endeavor such as journalism, politics, teaching, administration, etc. and even, whether as priests or non-priests, be able to help “lift the Church and the wider society off the myriads of problems, such as religious conflicts, ethnic divisions, moral decay, economic stagnation, social dislocations and political instability that plague us as a pluralistic nation today.” (Fr. Dr. E. Anowai, Handbook, Fac. of Phil., Pope John Paul 11 Major Seminary, Okpuno, 2010/2011, p.8)

As a matter of fact, the degree programme of our department, especially since its affiliation to a University, has been redesigned in a comprehensive manner such that our philosophy graduates can easily fit into any career they may choose. Graduates in philosophy are by the nature of their training equipped to take on any job for which a basic training in the humanities is an asset. But more specifically, and as should be rightly expected, they would do well in any job situation where initiative and clear logical thinking are essential.

In addition to the above mentioned double objectives, other objectives include:

  • To provide a solid foundation in philosophy also for those who make it to the priesthood and who want to do professional/academic philosophy;
  • To provide for a thorough instruction in the traditional quadrivium of philosophy, viz: Epistemology and Metaphysics, History of Philosophy, Logic and Values, including Ethics and Aesthetics, Social and Political Philosophy.
  • To de-emphasize abstractions and system building in the programme and seek instead to bridge the gap between professional/academic philosophy and social practice in Nigeria especially and Africa as a whole.
  • To seek to discover and/or create and establish the specifically African contribution to global philosophy.
  • To take cognizance of other “Philosophies” and introduce the students to them, e.g. Oriental Philosophy.
  • To provide courses that would be of interest to other departments and disciplines as a way of encouraging an inter-disciplinary approach to the study of philosophy and of recognizing the wide-ranging nature of the subject.

Conditions of Degree Award:
As an Affiliate Institute, Bigard Seminary does not award any degree – the Mother University does.

  • In order to qualify for an award of a degree of the Affiliating University (Urbaniana Universitas), a candidate must have been of good behavior throughout the duration of his academic, spiritual and human formations in the Seminary.
  • He must have met the admission. requirements for his year of admission.
  • He must have submitted the original certificate(s) from the awarding body for all examinations that qualified him for admission into the Seminary/programme.
  • He must have also spent the minimum required period for a degree programme in Philosophy.
  • He must have passed all the courses stipulated for the programme.
  • He must have cleared all his indebtedness to the Seminary and the Affiliating University.
  • He must have complied with such other requirements prescribed by the Seminary Authority .or the Affiliating University.

Writing Research Projects as a condition:
As an important requirement for the award of a B. Phil. degree in Philosophy, a student in 400 Level (4th year) is required to write his research project under the strict supervision of an approved member of the academic staff of our Department. He must abide by the following guidelines:

  • He is to choose a topic different from the ones already written by other students of the previous years.
  • The topic of the thesis should be chosen from different branches of our core courses in philosophy, namely: Ethics, Epistemology, Metaphysics, Philosophical Anthropology, Analytic philosophy, Logic, Political philosophy, Social philosophy, etc.
  • However, in certain circumstances, the Head of Department Academic Dean might permit a choice of topic/thesis made from the electives or allied courses in philosophy (such as Psychology, Sociology, etc.) but under strict conditions, which must include a philosophical critique/evaluation of the topic in question.
  • The approved length of the project/thesis shall be the maximum of sixty-five (65) pages and a minimum of fifty (50) pages.

For the four years course, candidates for the Bachelors in philosophy are required to pass the 9 units of General Studies (GES) and the compulsory courses in philosophy (RES). They must also take, but not necessarily pass, all the required courses and enough internal and external units as correspond with the table below:

100 Level 12 12 6 30
200 Level 18 9 3 30
3-400 level 51 9 60
TOTAL 81 30 9 120

Lecture Period
The lecture period begins at 8.30 am from Monday to Friday every week. The students are expected to report for lectures latest at 8.15 am in order to have enough time to settle down before the arrival of the lecturer. It is the responsibility of the auxiliaries (Seminary’s Senior Prefects) to take proper note of all students who default in this area by way of lateness to lectures for adequate sanctions. Each class monitor/prefect has also the responsibility to take proper note of all absenteeism to lectures for adequate sanctions. Regular attendance to lectures is also an integral part of the overall assessment of students’ academic performance during each semester examination. Again, it is the responsibility of the class prefects to find out why a particular lecturer fails to attend a particular lecture period. This is important since one may occasionally forget that he/she has a lecture on a particular day and period due to pressure of other engagements. In any case, the class prefect takes note of the lecturer who fails to report for classes and, if the need be, has the obligation to draw the attention of the Head of Department.

 Classroom Decorum:

It is the responsibility of the class prefects to ensure the cleanliness of the lecture hall before the commencement of the class each day. This means that he has to see to it that the classroom is mopped well, the window blades cleanly dusted, the lecturers’ table and seats well positioned, and the students’ seats properly arranged for the day’s lectures, etc.

During classes, the class prefect sits at the back so as to oversee the orderliness of proceedings in the class. Whenever there is disorder, he corrects it later by calling the attention of those involved during the day’s mid-break or at the end of the day’s lecture periods. The class prefect acts as liaison officer between the lecturers and the students in matters that concern both the effective delivery of lectures on the part of lecturers and learning on the part of the students. For instance, he receives the lecture-note from the lecturers; he processes them and distributes the same to the students. He articulates the academic needs of the students and presents the same to the lecturers as feed backs. In the same way, the class prefect accepts academic assignments from the lecturers and communicates the same to the students. In short, the class prefect helps a great deal in the smooth running of the’ class proceedings. He is obliged to report serious deviant behaviors and academic misconducts to both the Head of Department and the Dean of Students Affairs, respectively, for necessary corrections.

Student’s Welfare: Handling of academic grievances:

 The Colloquium:
At the beginning of every academic year, the seminary organizes a colloquium. The students are divided into groups. Each is headed by a lecturer. This occasion provides the students the opportunity to express themselves without fear of punishment. They air their views on the academics, spiritual life and general administration of this Institute. The points made by the groups are collated and synthesized in a plenary session. The points are submitted to the seminary staff for implementation.

 Students/Staff Liaison Officer:
Our Department has a Liaison Committee which serves as a forum for interaction between the Staff and Students. All students’ grievances are to be channeled to the Head of Department through the Committee which is composed of the class prefects of all the levels of the programme, the students Auxiliary (Senior Prefect) and two members of the Staff as Chairman and Co-chairman respectively. The Head of Department normally attends to such grievance with dispatch.

 Complaints and Suggestion Box:
In addition, a “Complaints and Suggestion Box” is provided just in front of the Departmental Office for students to drop in writing their complaints, grievances and suggestions. These are retrieved once or twice a week by the Head of the Department who sees to it that the contents are addressed as soon as possible.

 Philosophy Notice Board:
The flow of information from the department to the students of the department and those taking courses in philosophy is usually through the notice board in front of the departmental office. Students are advised to consult the notice board regularly. Any student who may still need more information should consult the Secretary to the Department or the Head of Department.

 National Association of Philosophy Students (NAPS):
The Bigard Seminary Chapter of the National Association of Philosophy Students is based in the Department and all Philosophy students are automatically members of the Association. The NAPS is not a Students Union but an academic association whose objectives include the promotion of intellectual activities as well as social interaction among philosophy students. The Bigard Chapter of the Association publishes a periodical called “The Thinker Magazine”; holds occasional lectures and celebrates a weekend called “NAPS Weekend” with philosophy students from other Universities around at attendance. All our philosophy students are expected to participate actively in the activities of the Association. The Association has the Head of Department as its Staff Adviser.

Before the main semester exams, there are continuous assessments of our students carried out every semester by means of tests, assignments or term papers and the assessment carries 30%. All examinations are conducted in the various lecture halls/classrooms for respective classes.
Any student who fails to appear in an examination for invalid reason (or due to his own fault) shall be deemed as having failed that course.

Qualification for Exams:
Students must have attended not less that 75% of the credit contact hours allocated to a course in order to qualify for the final examination in that course. Examination Authority
Bigard Seminary’s Academic Council (headed by Very Rev. Fr. Rector) exercises full authority and responsibility over the conduct and management of examinations.

 The Examiner

  • The lecturer of a particular course is usually the examiner for his/her own course.
  • The examiner remains the Chief Invigilator for each course. This is necessary in the situation where there is an Assistant Invigilator.
  • In respect of the courses handled by part-time lecturers, Assistant Invigilators will be assigned by the Head of Department with the aim of ensuring hitch-free examination and effective invigilation. For this, he can appoint any of the regular teaching staff or any one of the Deans of Student Affairs.

Examination Results

  • The marks obtained for each course in an examination shall be recorded by the course lecturer in his own handwriting and duly signed as prescribed in the Score Sheet obtainable from the office of the HOD.
  • Continuous assessment (CA) marks shall be recorded by the course-lecturer in ‘the examination record sheet alongside students’ scores/marks and submitted to the office of the HOD two (2) weeks from the date the examination in a particular course was conducted.
  • All examination results (for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd level students) shall be published on the notice board in front of the office of the HOD or, at his discretion, on the notice boards in the respective lecture-halls.
  • In respect of the results of the final year students (degree examination class), the Department of Philosophy, Urbaniana University, issues’ them after the necessary approval by the University’s Senate.

Examination Instructions to Students

  • No candidate is permitted either to leave the examination hall within the first thirty (30) minutes of the examination or to enter the hall thirty (30) minutes after the examination has started.
  • No candidate shall be allowed to borrow or lend any material such as ruler, pen, pencil, eraser, etc., during an examination without the permission of the invigilator.
  • No candidate shall leave his seat during an examination unless authorized by the invigilator.
  • Every student is responsible for the proper return of his answer script in the examination hall.
  • Disciplinary action shall be taken against any student who refuses to hand over his answer script promptly or attempted to hand it over to the invigilator outside the examination hall.
  • All candidates for .each examination must be at the examination hall/classroom fifteen (15) minutes before the start of it:
  • A candidate must write only his registration number on both the question paper and the answer booklet. Nothing else shall be written on the question paper.
  • No alteration or cancellation is allowed in the student’s registration number. If any mistake is made the invigilator shall witness and initial the correction immediately it is made.
  • A candidate shall enter the hall with pen(s), pencil(s), ruler, eraser and any other materials that may be required or permitted by the course lecturer/invigilator.

Repeating failed Course Units or the academic year:
Failed course units can be repeated as “Carry-overs” at the next available opportunity. If a student fails more that four compulsory or required courses, he must repeat the whole year. If he fails a second time, he must withdraw. Furthermore;

  • If a student normally completed a semester but due to unforeseen circumstances could not sit for the semester examinations:
  1. he writes the Head of department explaining his problem and pleading for an official understanding of his case and requesting he be allowed to sit for the examination at the next available opportunity;
  2. If, for example, he missed the examination on medical grounds, he has to get a medical report from a government or recognized Catholic hospital;
  • If a student could not finish all his examinations, for genuine reasons, the remaining paper/s must be regarded as “Carry-over/s” to be sat for at the next available opportunity.

Answer Scripts Preservation:
The answer scripts of students and the score sheets of lecturers are also kept for ten years to help resolve academic grievances that may later arise.

Invigilators’ Duties before the Examination:
Invigilators should:
1. Arrive fifteen minutes before the commencement of the examination; 2. Check sitting accommodation, the availability of question papers, answer sheets, permitted materials;
3. Read out instructions to candidates;
4. Ensure allocation of places, distribution of question papers, answer sheets, permitted materials, due silence and order in the hall.

 Invigilators’ Duties during the Examination
Invigilators should:
1. Start proceedings punctually (candidates arriving after the examination has started, may be admitted only at the chief invigilator’s discretion);
2. Begin with a short prayer;
3. Exercise vigilance and caution, giving attention to the candidates rather than reading, writing or dozing;
4. Respond to enquiries by going to the candidate concerned;
5. Announce at intervals the remaining time for the examination: Here in our seminary, no student is allowed to leave the exam hall before 30 minutes to the end of the examination;
6. Stop the examination when it should stop and clear candidates from the hall.

Our Department and this seminary as an academic Institute, continue to uphold the provisions of Section V, Rule 27 (vii) of the Seminary Rules, which states:
“Examination malpractice of whatever nature, e.g., cheating, leaking, copying, expo, falsification of marks, forging of certificates etc., merits the guilty student immediate expulsion”.

 Academic Atmosphere
The Rector and the Staff can always say where any Seminarian is at any given time. The students live a regularly controlled life. We do not have such incidents as demonstrations, rampages and other student delinquent acts in seminaries. As a matter of policy, strikes both by the academic and non-academic staff is never tolerated in the seminary. Our senior students in this seminary live one per room; others live at most two per room. They have enough time and facilities for their recreation. Noise making is not tolerated in this seminary. Students have a serene and conducive atmosphere for their studies.