Introduction to Philosophy

The details
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 26 June 2020
02 September 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BA V500 Philosophy,
BA V501 Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
BA V502 Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
BA V503 Philosophy (including Placement Year),
BA V508 Philosophy (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV53 Philosophy and Art History,
BA VV54 Philosophy and Art History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV55 Philosophy and Art History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV5H Philosophy and Art History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VVHP Philosophy and Art History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV15 Philosophy and History,
BA VV16 Philosophy and History (Including Placement Year),
BA VV51 Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV5C Philosophy and History (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV5X Philosophy and History (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA MVC5 Philosophy and Law,
BA MVC6 Philosophy and Law (Including Placement Year),
BA MVC8 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year),
BA VM51 Philosophy and Law (Including Year Abroad),
BA VM58 Philosophy and Law (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA QV25 Philosophy and Literature,
BA QV26 Philosophy and Literature (Including Placement Year),
BA VQ52 Philosophy and Literature (Including Foundation Year),
BA VQ58 Philosophy and Literature (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VQ5F Philosophy and Literature (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV25 Philosophy and Politics,
BA LV26 Philosophy and Politics (Including Placement Year),
BA LV2H Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA LV2M Philosophy and Politics (Including Year Abroad),
BA LV8M Philosophy and Politics (Including Foundation Year),
BA LV35 Philosophy and Sociology,
BA LV36 Philosophy and Sociology (Including Placement Year),
BA LV83 Philosophy and Sociology (Including Foundation Year),
BA VL53 Philosophy and Sociology (Including Year Abroad),
BA VL58 Philosophy and Sociology (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V5M8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5M9 Philosophy with Human Rights,
BA V5MX Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Year Abroad),
BA V6M9 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Placement Year),
BA VLM8 Philosophy with Human Rights (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA V590 Philosophy with Modern Languages (5 Years Including Foundation Year),
BA V5R9 Philosophy with Modern Languages,
BA L0V0 Philosophy, Politics and Economics,
BA L0V1 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA L0VA Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Year Abroad),
BA VV56 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics,
BA VV57 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Placement Year),
BA VV58 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV59 Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Foundation Year and Year Abroad),
BA VV5P Philosophy, Religion and Ethics (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV16 Law with Philosophy,
LLB MV18 Law with Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV19 Law with Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
BA P515 Journalism and Philosophy,
BA P516 Journalism and Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
BA P517 Journalism and Philosophy (Including Year Abroad)

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. There will be two revision sessions in the summer term, one for each term.

Autumn Term (Lecturer: Irene McMullin)
In this part of the module, students will explore the nature of knowledge, agency and selfhood. What does it mean to say that we 'know' something? How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of object? What does it mean to say that we know ourselves? How should we address questions about selfhood and identity? Is there even a self at all? Students will read both classical and contemporary texts to think through these core philosophical questions.

Spring Term (Lecturer: Matt Burch)

This part of the module introduces students to virtue epistemology and the study of the so-called vices and virtues of the mind. Many aspects of today's media culture seem to undermine our ability to think clearly and to engage in a transparent, productive evaluation of evidence and exchange of reasons. We will study some of the vices of the mind – e.g., close-mindedness, dogmatism, and epistemic insouciance – that make us more vulnerable to forces that cloud our thinking and subvert rational discourse. And we will also discuss some important intellectual virtues – e.g., open-mindedness, intellectual humility, and intellectual perseverance – that can help us flourish as reasoners.

Module aims

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

explain some of the major approaches to theories of practical knowledge, personhood, virtue epistemology, and the vices and virtues of the mind;

analyse critically the debates surrounding them.

Module learning outcomes

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

articulate certain philosophical problems in the areas studied;

expound and critically evaluate some responses to these problems;

employ their powers of philosophical argument and analysis in written work.

Module information

There will be two revision sessions in the summer term.

Weeks 8 and 21 are Reading Weeks.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x one-hour lecture each week. 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.


  • Korsgaard, Christine M. (1989) 'Personal Identity and the Unity of Agency: A Kantian Response to Parfit', in Philosophy & Public Affairs. vol. 18 (2) , pp.101-132
  • Plato; Grube, G. M. A. (c2002) Five dialogues, Indianapolis, IN: Hackett., pp.156-
  • ARENDT, HANNAH. (1971) 'THINKING AND MORAL CONSIDERATIONS: A LECTURE', in Social Research. vol. 38 (3) , pp.417-446
  • Alcoff, Linda. (c2006) Visible identities: race, gender, and the self, New York: Oxford University Press., pp.352-
  • Nagel, Thomas. (1979) Mortal questions, New York: Cambridge University Press., pp.213-
  • Parfit, Derek. (1971-01) 'Personal Identity', in The Philosophical Review. vol. 80 (1) , pp.3-
  • Locke, John; Spencer, Mark G. (©2014) An essay concerning human understanding: with the second treatise of government, Ware: Wordsworth Editions., pp.850-

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework Autumn Term Essay One (1000 Words) 18/11/2019 25%
Coursework Autumn Term Essay Two (1000 Words) 16/12/2019 25%
Coursework Spring Term Essay (2000 Words) 23/03/2020 50%
Exam 180 minutes during Summer (Main Period) (Main)

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
50% 50%


Coursework Exam
50% 50%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Autumn Term: Irene McMullin. Spring Term: Matt Burch,



External examiner

Dr Thomas Joseph Stern
University College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 152 hours, 112 (73.7%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
40 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

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