Saturday, August 11, 2007


Since OUCS are doing some kind of servicing that includes Herald email being down for most of the day, I haven't yet had my weekly email. Vaguely on the topic, however, I saw this discussion on Brian Leiter's blog (via) about Areas Of Competence listed on one's CV.

I generally subscribe to the view that AOS = primary research area (thesis topic) and that AOC = other areas in which you have a sound knowledge base and could teach an undergraduate course with relatively little preparation. For what it's worth, this is what I've generally put on my recent CVs:

Area of Specialisation:
Political Philosophy (distributive justice, democracy, political obligation, liberty)

Areas of Competence:
Normative Ethics (first-order moral theories and applied ethics)
Moral and Political Thought of Plato (especially Republic)
Democratic Theory (electoral systems, voting behaviour, social choice)

Though I suppose there's actually a case for putting democratic theory as an AOS and dividing political philosophy so that justice and democracy are under AOS and other areas under AOC. I think this is all a matter of specification, and whether one should go with general labels or something more specific, which is something discussed in the comments on Leiter, e.g. here and here. (I'm quite happy with my 'general label: specific detail' format).

Also interesting is the proposal of listing 'areas of teaching interest'. I think this is a good idea, as it allows you to distinguish where you could currently teach a course with little preparation (=AOC) and what you would be willing (and able) to teach in the medium-longer term, but not without a decent amount of time to prepare. I sometimes think about this, because there are a lot of Oxford courses that, given sufficient time, I could see myself being able to teach. Thus, if I was applying for a long-term job here I might sell myself by saying something like:

Theory of Politics
Prelims Politics (Theory)
Prelims Philosophy (Mill)
Plato's Republic

Areas of Teaching Interest/'future AOCs'
Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics
Classical Political Thought
Philosophy of Religion

And maybe even (if demanded)
History of Philosophy
Prelims Philosophy (General)
Political Sociology

Not, of course, that I'd list all that on my CV.

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