professor
Ruairidh Macleod

Dec 2020

I took Professor Macleod's section of CC in 2018. I have been debating whether to write this review for 2 years, given that my experience was not the opinion of all students within the class. Still, I think that someone may benefit from reading this before deciding on an instructor for this core class. To be blunt, if you are a neurodivergent student, I would highly recommend taking a different class. Professor Macleod, while extremely knowledgeable and intelligent, is a very by-the-book professor. Every class is a lecture, and there is very little student engagement, although some level of participation is required for every session. It is difficult to feel excited about the texts assigned since most of it is lecture, and so class can be a bit boring. Many of my classmates, including me, switched out after one semester. Papers are graded pretty harshly, according to a high academic standard. However, Macleod is open to giving extra time (a few weeks, in my case lol) and having one on one meetings to help you to rewrite a paper if it sucks. You will not get below a B minus for a paper, ever, period. When we were in person, he did not allow laptops unless you had a specific reason for it (like some backup from ODS). Honestly, for me, this class was the number 1 most stressful course I've ever taken at Columbia. I cried like every day LOL. The main thing that drove me to write this review is that I haven't been able to write a paper since then without feeling panicked and remembering struggling so much in this class. That is not to say he isn't a good professor. He is, as stated previously, extremely intelligent and he really knows his stuff, especially pertaining to classic texts. He does not want you to fail, and so he works hard to accommodate students on due dates and such. If you take this class, you will probably get around a B minus minimum, or maybe even an A. However, if you are a student who would struggle in a class like this, I suggest looking for a professor with more fun, engaging approach to the course. I excelled once I switched to a different professor, but that is my personal story.

May 2012

I HIGHLY recommend taking CC with Ruairidh Macleod, or any other course that he may teach in the future. He is one of the most all-around exceptionally effective instructors that I've had at Columbia! Throughout two semesters of CC, Ruairidh continued to exceed our expectations. He clearly dedicated a lot of his time to preparing for every class, providing us with extra resources for every text and philosopher and incorporating many different methods to try to keep the class engaged and interested. He encouraged every student to attend his office hours or arrange times to meet with every one of us individually, and he is quite approachable. He cares tremendously about the personal well-being and success of every student. To get the most out of his class, you need to actually do the readings. He never called anybody out or chastised us when he knew we hadn't read (he seems to understand that the quantity of reading on the CC Syllabus is just unreasonable), but since he always facilitated rich discussions rather than just superficial details about the texts, it was pretty clear when many of us hadn't read anything. His demeanor and clearly extensive knowledge of philosophy can be pretty intimidating, but he made great efforts to encourage every students' participation - even those of us who are ordinarily too timid to speak up in seminars. Throughout the entire year, Ruairidh demonstrated respect for everyone's opinions and didn't even criticize the students who said totally ridiculous things in class. His thoughtful responses make you feel comfortable discussing in class, knowing that he won't reject you. He also has a charming British accent.