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Philosophy Essay Rubric Template

Additional Teaching Resources

Essay Rubrics

Writing a philosophy or history essay for the first (or 50th) time can be an intimidating experience. I believe that providing students with a breakdown of elements of a quality essay can help to make the writing experience more accessible and more pleasurable, as well as making my own evaluation process more transparent and rational. So I offer rubrics to my students when they receive essay assignments. These rubrics are my key teaching tools in helping students to understand what I expect of their essay assignments and why.

Sample Rubric--Philosophy Essay, Fall 2010

Sample Rubric--History of Science Essay, Spring 2014

Sample Rubric--Philosophy of Science Essay, Fall 2015

Alternative Rubric Style Sample, Fall 2015

Philosophical Basics

I have been fortunate to lead a seminar in philosophical writing for a few semesters now, which introduces SFSU MA students to the particular and strange art of writing philosophical papers in the analytic style. Our students come from diverse philosophical (and personal) backgrounds, so I use the handouts below as reference resources for my students, to get everyone on the same page in the classroom. Plus, they're just fun to make and share.

Glossary of Philosophical Jargon

Basic Argument Forms and Fallacies

Philosophy Essay Writing Guide

Leading Small-Group Discussions

I believe strongly in the value of structured small-group discussions as a teaching and learning tool, and I use group discussions in all of my classes. The handout below offers suggestions on both the design of small-group discussion assignments and the implementation of these assignments in the classroom.


History/Philosophy Podcasts

Asking students to create podcasts explaining a theme from philosophy or a historical story is an alternative to essay-writing that challenges them to develop spoken communication skills, outline narratives, and use technology in creative ways. My experience with these assignments has been very positive, and you can see examples of the work my students have created on my Student Projects page. 

If you're interested in creating a podcast assignment of your own, you may find the assignment materials below useful. I am also happy to answer further questions by email.

Podcast Assignment

Podcast Reflection Worksheet

This is a quick post designed to collect links to grading rubrics in philosophy, for the sake of putting them together in one place for graduate student TAs in our department to refer to if they want to see some examples.

Here is a recent version of a grading rubric for essays that I use in my courses, including Introduction to Philosophy and an interdisciplinary course called Arts One. I’m including a PDF version and also an MS Word version in case anyone wants to use and edit it (Word is often easier to edit). It is licensed CC BY, which means you can use it and change it if state that it’s adapted from mine as the original source.

Hendricks Philosophy Paper Rubric (PDF)

Hendricks Philosophy Paper Rubric (MS Word)


Daily Nous had a post in May 2017 with what they called “An impressively detailed philosophy paper grading rubric,” by Micah T. Lewin.



Mara Harrell of Carnegie Mellon has created this rubric (MS Word) for marking philosophy essays, which is even more detailed than the one above.


This paper marking rubric by Melissa Jacquart includes point values for each cell, which is also an option. Giving points for each part of the rubric can make marking quicker, though it also be somewhat problematic because it’s hard to include every aspect of what makes a good paper in a rubric, and sometimes it’s how things work together that leads to a better essay even if some parts are not as strong as one might like.


The Teach Philosophy 101 website has a list of rubrics (including some of the above) that has some not only for grading essays, but also for other kinds of assignments.


I’d be happy to hear about other rubrics not on this list!



Posted in Assignments, Marking/grading, Teaching on by Christina Hendricks. Leave a comment

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