Brian Ness is a semi-retired engineer who took an online masters course in philosophy as a hobby. He's now pursuing a PhD and teaching ethics at a local primary school in Australia.
MSc Epistemology, Ethics and Mind
|Year of graduation
At the moment
I am semi-retired, living in a coastal village in Australia. My career was in engineering and large scale industrial production. While I still have a ‘finger in that pie’ my primary interests are now philosophical.
Your time at the University
My online learning experience was a positive one not only due to the teaching system but also because the teachers were generally excellent and the international range of students appealing.
My interest in philosophy developed from a prior interest in the cosmological aspects of astronomy. Where have we come from and where are we going? I started reading some philosophical texts and couldn’t understand the language and concepts being used – so I decided to study the subject formally. I chose Edinburgh for three reasons: 1. A sentimental attachment to the city; 2. The very impressive online teaching system; and 3. The reputation of the school.
My online learning experience was a positive one not only due to the teaching system but also because the teachers were generally excellent and the international range of students was appealing.
Your experiences since leaving the University
I did not study in order to pursue any sort of career (I’m 63). It’s a hobby. However I have been inspired to start teaching ethics at a local primary school – and to lecture on philosophy at U3A (the University of the Third Age). I also lead a couple of informal discussion groups focussing on influential philosophers and on the big philosophical problems. I am also undertaking a part-time PhD in philosophy through Edinburgh.
Life during Covid-19
Living in Australia has been a boon in the world of Covid. Not much has changed because our governments reacted efficiently – and we’re an island.
I’m not able to offer any wise advice. As Socrates advised: the more I discover - the more I realise how little I know. And even if I know a lot – knowledge is definitely not wisdom.
Online open days
More information on the upcoming open days for distance learning on 26 and 27 May 2021 can be found here: