The ideal philosophy student

A qualitative study of the transition into first year higher education


  • Andrea Fransiska Møller Gregersen Institut for Kommunikation, Københavns Universitet
  • Henriette Tolstrup Holmegaard Institut for Naturfagenes Didaktik, Københavns Universitet



This paper investigates students’ transition into a bachelor’s programme of philosophy. The aim is to explore the meeting of the norms and expectations of student performances within the study programme and students’ identity negotiations when presented with these norms and expectations. Drawing on ideas of identities as performative and recognition practices as central to students’ abilities to navigate the norms, the study analyses what is entailed in the constructions of the ‘ideal’ philosophy students. The analysis builds on data produced through qualitative methods, including interviews, fieldwork and video-diaries. The analysis shows that the ‘ideal’ philosophy student is expected to demonstrate dedication and an ability to immerse themself in the content matter, while refraining from becoming absorbed in career prospects. Ideal philosophy identities performed confidence and were able to argue indisputably when engaging in discussions both in and outside teaching. Consequently, insecurity and incompetence were produced as side-effects, with a clear gendered pattern. Implications for higher education are discussed.


Andrea Fransiska Møller Gregersen, Institut for Kommunikation, Københavns Universitet

Andrea Fransiska Møller Gregersen holds a PhD from the Department of Science Education at University of Copenhagen. Her research focusses on students in higher education, and she has investigated transition into higher education and how first-year students become a part of a study culture, how they develop a way of studying and a student identity. She is especially interested in norms and in- and exclusion processes for example related to gender.


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Møller Gregersen, A. F., & Holmegaard, H. T. (2022). The ideal philosophy student: A qualitative study of the transition into first year higher education. Dansk Universitetspædagogisk Tidsskrift, 17(33).



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