Introduction to Philosophy

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Full Year
Undergraduate: Level 4
Thursday 05 October 2023
Friday 28 June 2024
06 September 2023


Requisites for this module
CS101, PY109, PY110



Key module for

BA V530 Continental Philosophy,
BA V531 Continental Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
BA V532 Continental Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
BA V533 Continental Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
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),
MPHIV599 Philosophy,
MPHIVA98 Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
MPHIVA99 Philosophy (Including 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 L0V0 Philosophy, Politics and Economics,
BA L0V1 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Placement Year),
BA L0V2 Philosophy, Politics and Economics (Including Foundation 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 MV06 Law with Philosophy (Including Foundation Year),
LLB MV16 Law with Philosophy,
LLB MV18 Law with Philosophy (Including Year Abroad),
LLB MV19 Law with Philosophy (Including Placement Year),
BA VV20 Philosophy with Business Management,
BA VV21 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Foundation Year),
BA VV22 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Placement Year),
BA VV23 Philosophy with Business Management (Including Year Abroad),
BA V5L5 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability,
BA V5L6 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (Including Foundation Year),
BA V5L7 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (Including Placement Year),
BA V5L8 Philosophy, Ethics and Sustainability (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
This part of the module encourages students to reflect on what kind of knowers they want to be and what kind of knowledge community they want to belong to. We will begin by considering why we possess the concept of knowledge at all. What good is it? What does it do for us? We will then explore some recent work in social epistemology, focusing on echo chambers, epistemic injustice, and the role of trust in our knowledge practices. Next, we turn to work in political epistemology, looking at how politics shapes knowledge production and vice versa; we will focus in particular here on propaganda and belief polarisation. Finally, we turn our attention to virtue and vice epistemology, which study the so-called virtues and vices of the mind. We will discuss important epistemic virtues that can help us flourish as knowers, e.g., self-reflection and intellectual perseverance; and we will also read about epistemic vices that undermine our capacity to acquire knowledge, e.g., closed-mindedness and dogmatism. By the end of the module, students will better understand how individual, social, and political factors interact in the human pursuit of knowledge.
Spring Term
In this part of the module, students will explore the nature of agency, selfhood, and identity. How do our modes of practical interaction with the world and each other shape our ability to know different kinds of object, including ourselves? Is there even a self at all? Is being a self different than having an identity? How should we address such questions about selfhood and identity? Students will read both classical and contemporary texts from a variety of philosophical traditions to think through these core philosophical questions.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • to explain some of the major approaches to virtue and vice epistemology, social epistemology, and political epistemology,as well as to questions about selfhood and identity, and to theorising about such challenges;

  • to analyse critically the debates surrounding them.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to 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

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

A lecture and seminar/class each week, with additional skills sessions throughout the year.

There will also be a Reading Week in each term when no teaching will take place, exact week to be confirmed.


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

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Literature review (150 words) & Annotated bibliography (500 words)  07/11/2023  15.4% 
Coursework   Essay plan (1 side of A4)  13/11/2023  15.5% 
Coursework   Autumn Term Essay (1500 Words)  19/12/2023  30.7% 
Coursework   Peer Review   30/01/2024  7.7% 
Coursework   Spring Term Essay (1500 Words)  26/03/2024  30.7% 
Exam  Main exam: In-Person, Open Book (Restricted), 120 minutes during Summer (Main Period) 
Exam  Reassessment Main exam: Remote, Open Book, 24hr during September (Reassessment Period) 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
65% 35%


Coursework Exam
65% 35%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Matthew Burch, email:
Prof Irene McMullin, email:
PHAIS General Office - 6.130;



External examiner

Dr Josiah Saunders
Durham University
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 984 hours, 54 (5.5%) hours available to students:
930 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.