Introduction to Ethics

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 4
Sunday 15 January 2023
Friday 24 March 2023
20 May 2022


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Students taking this module will follow the topics described below. Each lecture will be followed by a one-hour discussion class, at which issues covered in the lecture will be discussed in smaller class groups.

In this module, you will explore ethical challenges from today's world (such as how to treat animals, the climate emergency, or making decisions about who should be prioritised in allocating medical resources). You will also explore ethical theories as tools for navigating these challenges. Shall we look to the consequences of our actions for orientation? Or to constraints on the means we take as agents? Or might we fare better by considering character dispositions and taking our cue from exemplars? And what methods do we have at our disposal to decide between these alternatives? Is there such a thing as ethics anyway? Or are there just personal opinions and everything is relative?

Module aims

By the end of the module students should be able to:

explain some of the major approaches to theories of knowledge, virtue epistemology, and social epistemology as well as to today’s ethical challenges and to theorising about such challenges;

analyse critically the debates surrounding them.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

1. articulate certain philosophical problems in the areas studied;
2. expound and critically evaluate some responses to these problems;
3. employ their powers of philosophical argument and analysis in written work.

Module information

Begin your study of philosophy with an exploration of ethics. What guidance do ethical theories offer us in navigating the challenges we face, both individually (for example, in relation to how we treat animals) and collectively (notably the climate emergency)? What methods can we use to make progress in thinking about ethical questions? Can the study of philosophy help us flourish as moral agents?

For more details, see Spring term of PY111-4-FY.

Learning and teaching methods

There will be a one-hour lecture and one-hour class/seminar each week, where issues from the lecture will be discussed in smaller groups. Reading Week will be Week 21.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Spring Term Essay (1500 words)    100% 
Exam  Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during September (Reassessment Period) 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Prof Fabian Freyenhagen, email:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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