Centre for Continuing Education

Philosophy Basics Course: Ontology - The Theory of Existence

Philosophy. Study the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality and existence.

Learn about philosophy the smart way with Philosophy courses at the University of Sydney.

Apples, rainbows and our sense of justice have absolutely nothing in common, except that they all somehow ‘exist’. But what does it mean to say that something ‘exists’, that something just ‘is’? What do existent things have or do that non-existent things don’t? Philosophers have pondered this question for millennia, yet there appears still to be no real consensus. In this short course we elaborate the underlying concepts, and create from them a framework for understanding – perhaps even resolving – the riddle that is 'existence'

Course Content

In this short philosophy course focusing on the theory of existence, the following topics will be explored:

  • What is Existence?
  • Various Interpretations of 'Existence'
  • Physical Existence
  • Semiotic/Semantic Existence
  • Beables vs Observables
  • The Meaning of Existence

Course delivery

This philosophy course is delivered as an interactive lecture.

Course suitable for

This course addresses one of the many topics covered in Tibor’s Philosophy for Science series; and is ideal for anyone with an interest in the philosophy of science. Although rigorous and intellectually demanding, this course is designed for a lay audience and no prior knowledge of philosophy, mathematics or physics is assumed.


  • Expert trainers
  • Central locations
  • Small class sizes
  • Free, expert advice
  • Student materials – yours to keep
  • Statement of completion

What others say.

  • The course presenter was a great tutor and clearly very knowledgeable and passionate about philosophy. Also a highly engaging speaker, and very encouraging for us to ask questions and formulate our own opinions with confidence. I would definitely return. Thanks.

  • Although the subject was challenging for me, the lecturer explained the various concepts thoroughly! I enjoyed the stimulation, an extra bonus was the extensive course notes. Will be back for more!