Module descriptions for Philosophy

  • As courses are reviewed regularly the module list you choose from may vary from that shown here.

  • Global Philosophy in Religions
    This module provides a foundation in the philosophical foundations of religious traditions. It is designed to introduce students to the variety of philosophical and religious approaches to universal issues of what is to be human. Indicative examples of specific religious approaches to key themes in religion and philosophy are introduced. The module is designed to enable students to unpick some of the categories and structures of the scholarly study of religion and global philosophies of religion. Equally, perspectives of insiders are considered in the construction of normative accounts of what is defined as a religion. The module is also designed to support students in academic writing, research and skills related to effective presentation of their ideas.

    Human Nature
    The study of Human Nature has been central to philosophy throughout its history as philosophers have grappled with questions such as: what makes humans distinctively human?; what is the best way to study our nature?; are we fundamentally different from all other animals?; what is the relationship between race and gender and human nature?; could there be such a thing as human nature if we are products of evolution? to what extent are we products of culture? This module explores these questions drawing upon cutting-edge work in philosophy, feminist theory, cognitive science and evolutionary biology.

    Introduction to Ethics
    The purpose of this module is to get you thinking in a systematic and structured fashion about ethical matters. The module divides into two parts. The first concentrates on normative theory while the second looks at how various moral theories are applied in practical cases. Theories under discussion include consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics, and particularism. Topics in applied ethics shall typically include abortion, euthanasia, animal welfare, poverty, and war.

    Introduction to Philosophy
    This module is designed to provide an overview of the discipline as a whole by introducing you to problems from each of the main branches of philosophy. The module will focus on the examination of a collection of issues from epistemology, philosophy of mind, metaphysics and ethics. The course stands alone but can be considered as the primary foundation from which to begin a deeper study of philosophy.

    Reason and Argument
    This module is designed to provide you with the basic tools that you need in order to study philosophy effectively in a university context. These tools include the understanding of a series of basic philosophical concepts that are presupposed in much philosophical debate. The concepts in question include those of a proposition, of an argument, of reason and evidence, of rationality and of necessary and sufficient conditions. The tools also include the ability to read philosophy, identify a philosophical question, and construct and evaluate a philosophical argument. As reasoning plays such a central role in philosophy a proportion of the module is devoted to critical reasoning. This module will include a session on employability.

    Theory of Knowledge
    This module addresses certain very general and very fundamental questions about knowers and knowledge. What is it to know? How is knowledge distinct from mere belief? And is knowledge possible? We shall consider both what great thinkers of the past said about these issues - Plato, Descartes, Hume, Locke and Berkeley shall figure highly - and we shall also focus on the contemporary debates. In attempting to answer these questions we shall consider the nature of perception, whether we can acquire knowledge simply in virtue of hearing what someone says about a certain matter, whether we can have knowledge of the world out there (rather than just knowledge of our own minds) and whether there can be a scientific account of knowledge.

    Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion
    This module introduces you to the ideas and methodology that dominate Anglo-America Philosophy of Religion. The first half of the module offers an account of the ‘God of theism’, focusing upon the attempts to establish the existence of God, and the characteristic attributed to that God. Such an account of the focus of religion and the meaning of ‘God’ ha not been without its critics. The second part of the module offers alternative accounts of religion and ‘God’.


    Ancient Greek Philosophy
    This module is designed to introduce students to the two greatest philosophers of ancient Greece, Plato and Aristotle. The focus is on ethical and political themes in Plato's Republic and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Apart from their intrinsic interest, these texts are among the most influential in the history of philosophy. This module will include a session on employability.

    Culture, Gender and Sexuality
    This module explores the relationship between issues of gender, sexuality and culture as key factors in human identity, development and society. It critiques traditional and static understandings of gender and sexuality, drawing on the insights of a diversity of disciplines, including those of gender studies, critical theory, queer theory, feminist theology and feminist criticism. The aim of the module is to encourage you to question your existing ‘common sense’ understanding of terms such as gender and sexuality, and to think about the uses to which such terms are put in contemporary culture. Indeed, the aim of this course is not to provide answers, but to encourage you to ask questions.

    Early Modern Philosophy
    This module is designed to introduce you to representative texts from the early modern period. The module is divided roughly into two parts. The first part is devoted to Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy and examines his attempts to provide a firm basis for knowledge. The second part is devoted to Hume's Treatise on Human Nature and his Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, examining his attempts to construct a theory of the workings of the human mind and explore the implications of that theory. The module also looks at related texts by Berkeley, Locke, Leibniz, and Spinoza. This module will include a session on employability.

    Evolution and the Mind
    This module will introduce students to the philosophical study of the mind as a product of cognitive evolution. We will gain a better understanding of how humans think, and of how the evolved structure of the human mind has a profound influence on elements of human culture, such as religion and the arts. We will examine the relationship between biological and cultural evolution in human behaviour, exploring such topics as cultural group selection, the epidemiology of representations, and evolutionary psychology. We will investigate why some culturally transmitted ideas have an easier way of spreading (e.g. religious beliefs) than others (e.g. quantum theory). We will examine to what extent elements of higher cognition are present in other animals (e.g. imitation, self-awareness), and how scientists draw these conclusions based on experimental work. As a result of this module, students gain a better understanding of the origins of human behaviour and culture, and especially, be able to critically appraise scientific theories such as evolutionary psychology. Next to an essay, the module will use in-class exercises and class debates.

    Hellenistic Philosophy
    In ancient Greece, philosophy was thought to be more than simply a discipline of academic interest. Many philosophers saw themselves as analogous to physicians. If physicians treat and heal the body, the work of the philosopher was to provide comparable therapy for the soul. This  view was common to Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Sceptics and the Stoics. This module is designed to introduce you to this philosophical tradition and the work of its proponents.

    Philosophy of Language
    Language is central to human life and so has attracted much attention from philosophers. This module examines some of the key debates about language that have excited philosophers over the past few decades. These include questions as to the nature of language, how language is acquired, whether language can be studied scientifically, and the relationship between language and thought.

    Philosophy of Science
    This module introduces you to contemporary philosophy of science by discussing a number of related issues concerning the nature and justification of scientific theories, the role of observation in science, the ontological status of theoretical entities and the structure of science.

    Continental Philosophy of Religion
    This module provides students with an approach to the philosophy of religion shaped by range of thinkers in the ‘Continental’ European tradition of the 19th and 20th centuries. It begins by considering the critique of the concept of God (with particular reference to the role played by Feuerbach) and the role of religion in the writings of 'the masters of suspicion' (Nietzsche, Marx and Freud), and proceeds to consider different responses to the critique of God and religion.

    Work and Community Related Learning
    Overall the module aims to support student development in relation to their awareness and understanding of the world of work and their future employability. The module will contribute to the student's development of graduate attributes and employability skills by requiring them to reflect critically on learning gained from activities in work, community related and extra-curricular settings. Specifically, the aims are that students will: Gain benefit personally and academically from experiences in the work and community context; Engage in self-directed learning with appropriate academic supervision and structured reflection; Reflect critically on and illustrate using specific examples the learning and personal development gained from work related or extra-curricular experience in relation to possible future professional roles.

    Dissertation in Philosophy
    An extended critical investigation and written presentation of a topic, theme or issue, selected by the student and relevant to the field of philosophy.

    Experimental Philosophy
    This module introduces students to the recent field of experimental philosophy, helping them to understand how we can test philosophical theories empirically. Students will examine the roots of experimental philosophy in early modern authors such as Hume and Locke, who attempted to resolve philosophical issues through empirical observations, for example the question of whether a blind person would be able to associate things he previously felt with the things he newly sees. In this module, students will examine the role of empirical evidence in philosophy and how it is used in experimental philosophy. They will learn to interpret and conduct (at an elementary level - no advanced mathematical background is required) statistical tests to examine philosophical hypotheses. 

    Foundations of German Idealism
    This module introduces students to Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason, one of the most important works in the history of philosophy. The central epistemological and metaphysical themes of the Critique will be explored focussing on Kant’s ‘Copernican Revolution’ and his doctrine of Transcendental Idealism.

    Freedom, Justice and Politics
    An examination of key political concepts, freedom, justice, and the community, taking account of affiliated concepts including rights and equality. In considering these concepts, differing theoretical treatments of them will be related to the roles they play in the practical world of politics. Liberal, radical, feminist and communitarian theoretical standpoints are analysed.

    Independent Study in Philosophy
    A single advanced module designed to develop independent learning skills and to enable you to build upon your knowledge and disciplinary skills in the philosophy field. You will carry out individual projects and must negotiate an overall programme plan and method of assessment with an appointed supervisor.

    Interdisciplinary Dissertation in Philosophy
    A critical investigation and written presentation of a topic, theme or issue, selected by the student and relevant to the field of philosophy.

    Medieval Philosophy
    This module introduces you to an unfairly neglected period in the history of western philosophy. This module is designed to introduce you to the extremely high quality work produced in this period by a variety of thinkers, work that continues to attract current interest. It is also designed to provide you with the means of filling in the historical gap between ancient Greek philosophy and the modern period.

    This advanced module is devoted to the sustained and detailed exploration of a topic introduced in the compulsory Introduction to Philosophy, namely, the realism vs. noncognitivism dispute in meta-ethics. The implications of meta-ethical theories for normative ethics will also be explored.

    Philosophy of Mind
    This module is designed to introduce you to one of the liveliest areas of current research, namely, contemporary philosophy of mind. Much current work in the field is devoted to the task of explaining how mental phenomena can be accommodated within a physicalist framework. Various physicalist theories are examined as is the prospect of explaining consciousness in physicalist terms. The issue of the relationship between the mind and the external world is also explored.

    Philosophy of Education
    This module engages with questions about the nature, aims and justification of education through a distinctively philosophical approach. By examining a range of contemporary, historical and international perspectives, students will appreciate that education is a value-laden enterprise whose core concepts are contested. Students will engage in a critical dialogue with some of the seminal texts that have shaped the way we understand the educational endeavour and will be encouraged to examine their own assumptions about education and participate in the contemporary debate through reasoned and cogent arguments.

    Thinking in Dark Times
    This module considers the problem of evil, the social context which surrounds the philosophical framing of it, and the way in which philosophers have responded to the events of dark times. Are there forms of philosophy more likely to enable ways of responding to and combating the lived experience of evil? What happens to philosophical and intellectual responsibility in dark times?

    Special Topics in Metaphysics
    This module is designed to hone the reading and oral presentation skills of students. This is predominantly a student-led module. Students present seminar papers on classic philosophical works - either journal articles or chapters from seminal monographs - in the areas of metaphysics and the philosophy of logic and students assess each other’s presentations. You will then write an essay on a topic related to your seminar presentation. There is no fixed set of articles or monographs; rather, the chosen writings will change to match the current state of the discipline.