Appearance and Reality
In this module you’ll examine some of the central themes surrounding the work of John Locke, one of the first philosophers who sought to integrate philosophy with our modern scientific worldview. Topics covered include: empiricism and science, perception, justification and scepticism and the nature of objects among others. You’ll have two hours of lectures and on some weeks an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.
This module provides an introduction to modern logic including technical vocabulary required to aid your understanding of modern philosophical work. You’ll discuss the symbolism of modern logic, the theory of the structure of thought and practice translation between symbolism and English. You’ll have two hours per week of lectures studying this module.
Introduction to Ethics
This module introduces you to some of the main ethical questions studied by philosophers. The first part focuses on some contemporary moral problems such as the justification of punishment. The second part of the course looks at some normative ethical theories and concepts that provide ways of approaching such moral problems. The third part of the course considers some challenges to the idea of systematic moral inquiry such as relativism, egoism and emotivism. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Reasoning and Argument: Introduction to Philosophical Method
In this module you’ll learn a series of key skills needed to follow critical methods of philosophical inquiry. The aim is to help you understand the structure and nature of arguments of others and improve your reasoning ability to assist you in your further studies during your course. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and an hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on other weeks throughout the semester.
Self, Mind and Body
In this module you’ll be introduced to the important central issues in philosophy of self, mind and body which continue to be debated to present day. You’ll examine Descartes Meditations focusing on his thoughts on dualism and mind-body interaction, comparing these with other related topics. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
Studying the Greek World
This wide-ranging module introduces you to the history, literature and art of the Greek World from 1600BC-31BC, from the Bronze Age to a point when Greece had become part of the Roman Empire; no prior knowledge of the Greek world is required. You will consider major chapters of Greece’s history, such as the Mycenean Period, the rise of the city-state in the Archaic period, and Alexander the Great. You will also explore developments in Greek literary and artistic culture and as consider aspects of the reception of ancient Greece in modern western culture. For this module you will have one 2-hour lecture each week over the course of 10 weeks.
Studying the Roman World
This module introduces you to the history, literature and art of the Roman world from the beginnings of the city of Rome to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West. You will examine many important aspects of Rome’s history such as the Roman Republic, the rise of the empire, the establishment of the Principate, and the fall of Rome. At the same time you will explore developments in Roman literary and artistic culture, and consider aspects of the reception of ancient Rome in modern western culture. In addition, you will examine the relationship of the Roman world to the Greek world, to complement the Autumn semester module ‘Studying the Greek World'. For this module you will have one 2-hour lecture each week.
What is the moral status of animals? What are the limits of free speech? What are the moral issues when discussing abortion? Is affirmative action unjust? In this module you will be looking at these and other issues that arise when we try to put ethics into practice. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
The Existence of God
This module will examine the basic philosophical issues that concern the existence of God. The lectures will cover such topics including: Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Problem of Evil. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.
This module will discuss a number of problems tackled by Plato. Attention will be given to the development of the theory of the forms, but we will be working towards an understanding of the motivations for the development of this theory which may be found in his moral/political philosophy. You’ll have two hours of lectures for some weeks and an hour-long lecture in others with an hour-long seminar throughout the semester.
Issues in Feminist Philosophy
This module will provide an introduction to some of the issues discussed in contemporary feminist philosophy, considering a range of sometimes opposing feminist views on topics including: pornography, feminine appearance, and gender roles within the family and in the workplace. You’ll also examine the ways in which feminist writers have shown that matters not traditionally considered political do in fact have political significance. You’ll have two hours of lectures some weeks and a hour-long lecture with an hour-long seminar on others throughout the semester.
History of Western Philosophy
Through considering some of the greatest thinkers who have ever lived, you will become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas which have shaped western analytical philosophy. You will understand how and why these ideas arose and the context in which they were developed. The thinkers which could be covered include: Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, St Augustine, St Aquinas, Hume, among others. You’ll spend four hours per week in lectures and seminars.
Interpreting Ancient Art
In this module you will explore Greek and Roman art with the aim of gaining a broad overview of visual material from classical antiquity, by concentrating on a cross-section of the most famous objects and monuments of Greek and Roman culture. You will be introduced to temple-sculpture, statues, wall-paintings, buildings and coins, from 6th Century BC Greek sculptures to the 4th Century AD arch of Constantine in Rome. Material for this module is organised by theme and medium rather than in chronological order, starting with topography, sculpture and vase painting. For this module you will have two 1-hour lectures each week and five 2-hour seminars over the course of your first year.
Interpreting Ancient Literature
Ancient literature from Homer to late antiquity is studied in this module by focusing on a representative theme. Recent themes have been 'Perfomance and Persuasian' and 'Love and War'. Issues treated have included: the relationship of literature and society, oral culture, performance, genre, gender, religion and literature, and artistry in historical writing. For this module you will have eight 1-hour seminars over the year and two 1-hour lectures each week.
Independent Second-Year Project (Classics)
This module is your opportunity to expand your knowledge of the Classical world in an area which interests you, and to experiment with a method of communicating that knowledge which is different from the usual assessment practices of essay-writing, exam-writing and seminar -presentation. You might undertake research that leads to the construction of a database, or the reconstruction of a Greco-Roman artefact. You can select a communication method tailored to a future career, e.g. by constructing a teaching plan and testing it in a school, by writing in a journalistic style, or by designing a museum exhibit. You might choose to experiment with making a video or a website. A supporting portfolio documenting your research forms part of the assessment. For this module you will have a combination of lectures, seminars, computing training and workshops.
Extended Source Study
This module is designed to develop your skills of research, analysis and written presentation as preparation for a third year dissertation in classical civilisation. You will write a 5,000 word essay chosen from a range of topics, each focusing on a single piece of ancient source material. You will be provided with a topic for investigation, starter bibliography and tips on how to approach the question. The questions will suggest a range of possible approaches, from evaluation of historical source material to exploration of literary effects, relationships with other material, discussion of context or reception. For this module you will have a mixture of lectures and four 2-hour seminars over a period of 10 weeks.
In this module you’ll discuss key issues in social philosophy. Indicative topics that might be covered include: philosophy of gender; philosophy of race; philosophy of disability; philosophy of relationships and friendship; slavery and abolition; social and psychological oppression; the political thought of Hannah Arendt. Recently, the focus for this module has been on the Philosophy of Race and has concerned questions such as: How should race be conceptualised following the discrediting of biological conceptions of race? What does it mean to consider race as a social construct? Should we be eliminitivists about race? What are the implications of how we conceptualise race for understandings of racism? The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
The Nature of Meaning
The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell, and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences. In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as `I', `now', and `here'. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Freedom and Obligation
This module combines consideration of the political philosophy of Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, and J.S. Mill with related themes in contemporary debates. The module is designed to introduce you to each of the thinkers and then to consider how related issues are treated by contemporary writers. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Mind and Consciousness
This module aims to introduce you to some of the major issues within contemporary philosophy of mind. We will examine four topics and the interactions between them: intentionality, consciousness, mental causation and the status of physicalism. There is a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
Knowledge and Justification
This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following: the structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence; the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification and the relation between your evidence and what you know, among others. There is a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
History of Philosophy
The module involves the study of one or more texts by one or more influential pre-twenty-first century philosophers. The module will proceed via a close reading of the texts set and also draw on additional material by scholars, background material, and influential responses. For the 2015–16 session, the philosopher selected for study in this module is the 18th century philosopher David Hume, arguably the greatest, and undeniably one of the most influential, of all British philosophers. We focus on some of Hume’s most striking and influential contributions to philosophical topics (in the theory of knowledge, metaphysics, and philosophy of mind), including induction, causation, scepticism, and the implications of empiricism in general. The principal text is Hume’s short work An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding (also known as his ‘First Enquiry’), supplemented with some passages from Hume’s other writings. Although the focus is on Hume’s philosophy, the module will include comparison of his views with those of some of his predecessors and contemporaries, including Locke and Berkeley. In addition, one of the aims of the module is to provide students with knowledge of ways in which Hume’s work has influenced subsequent theorizing in philosophy up to the present day. There is a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
We all have opinions about moral matters. But for most of us, our moral opinions are not very well-organized. Indeed, upon reflection we may discover that some of our beliefs about morality are inconsistent. One of the main projects of moral theorizing over the past few hundred years has been the attempt to systematically denominate right and wrong actions. In this module you will examine some of these, including consequentialism, deontology and virtue ethics. Teaching will be via a weekly two hour seminar and one hour lecture.
Being, Becoming and Reality
In this module you’ll discuss several topics in contemporary metaphysics. You will examine a number of topics in detail. Recent examples include: What is metaphysics? Do composite objects exist? And, if so, when does composition occur? Do numbers, sets, propositions (etc.) exist? Do other possible worlds exist? What is the nature of time?The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
Are there moral fact? What is moral truth? Do psychopaths really understand moral language? These are just some of the questions we’ll be asking on this module. Metaethics isn’t anything like normative or applied ethics; rather it is about asking how ethics works. This means we’ll be thinking about, amongst other things, moral ontology, moral language, moral psychology and moral reasons. The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
Philosophy of Art
This module includes a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics will include: definitions of art, Walton’s theory of make-believe, art, music, and the emotions, and the ontological status of artworks. This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current views on expression and representation, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks. The teaching will be delivered through a mixture of lectures and seminars.
Sparta dominates much of archaic and classical Greek history, and has figured prominently in the thought and imagination of other western societies from antiquity to the present. This module studies the historical development of Sparta, in both domestic and external affairs, from the seventh to fourth centuries BC. It engages with the central issues that arise in historical study of Sparta: the problematic nature of our evidence; the Spartan social, political and military system; her subordinate populations; relations between Spartans and others both at home and abroad; and the forces behind Sparta's rise and fall as a great power. For this 20-credit module you will have 6 hours of lectures and one 2-hour seminar each fortnight across a ten-week semester; assessment is by a combination of coursework essay and exam.
Masculinity and Citizenship in Greece and Rome
In this full-year Special Subject you’ll use literary and historical material to explore the idea of what it was to be a man and an accepted citizen in ancient Greece and Rome. The module explores how good citizens were to behave and what they were expected to look like. You’ll also explore how they represented this citizenship to the rest of the world and how that changed over time. Incorporating elements of gender studies, topics to be covered include homoeroticism and Athenian identity, dress and cultural identity, sexual invective, citizenship and empire, Roman representation in the provinces and women, politics and patronage. You’ll have three hours of seminars weekly. The module is assessed through a combination of coursework essays, formal presentation and exam.
Encounters with the Supernatural: Religion, Magic and the Greeks
This year-long Special Subject module involves 3 hours of seminars per week, and investigates the different ways in which ancient Greek men and women interacted with a wide variety of supernatural entities, including gods, heroes, nymphs and the dead. You’ll start by exploring the range of supernatural entities and ways in which relations with the supernatural structured daily life for ancient Greek men and women. You will then investigate key modes of interaction with the supernatural, as well as thinking about how ideas about and approaches to the supernatural varied over time and place. The module is assessed through a combination of coursework essays, formal presentation and exam.
Environmental ethics addresses the issue of how human beings should interact with the non-human natural world. This module will cover a range of topics from contemporary philosophical literature on environmental ethics, including: the scope of moral concern whether nature is intrinsically valuable, or whether it possesses value only by being valuable to us and questioning if it is reasonable to search for just one overarching ‘environmental ethic’.
Free Will and Action
This module will focus on a number of questions, including: what would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’)? Is there is any way in which our actions could be free in the relevant sense, whether or not determinism is true? How do actions differ from bodily movements that are not actions? Actions are typically, perhaps always, done for reasons, but what exactly is the relation between the reasons and the actions? Do the reasons cause the corresponding actions – and if they do, can this be the same kind of causation as is involved in ordinary ‘mechanistic’ causal explanation? What is the connection between intentional or voluntary action and rational action? In particular, it seems that we sometimes intentionally and voluntarily do things that we ourselves regard as irrational – but how is such ‘weakness of will’ possible? You’ll be taught through a two-hour lecture each week.
In this module you’ll be introduced to the theories of Karl Marx through selected texts from his works. Topics covers will include: alienation, the material conception of history, the labour theory of value and French political theory among others. You’ll gain an understanding of concepts essential for advanced study on this course.
This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will look at logics of possibility and necessity, time, and knowledge, as well as alternative logics, including ‘anti-realist’ logic and fuzzy logic. We will apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics including vagueness, the liar paradox and anti-realism. We will also investigate basic set theory, infinity and the limits of formal logic, including soundness, completeness and decidability proofs.
This module will take a detailed look at one of the main topics of contemporary analytical political philosophy: the theory of distributive justice. This theory attempts to specify abstractly the conditions under which a distribution of benefits and burdens amongst a group of persons would be just. You will consider challenges to the legitimacy of any redistributive principle, and attempts to accommodate values such as responsibility and choice in different patterns of distribution. You’ll have a two hour lecture and one hour seminar each week.
The module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions. These include, in particular: the origin and nature of suffering, the no-self thesis, enlightenment, consciousness, experiential knowing, and the doctrine of Emptiness ( the lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence). The module will focus particularly on Nâgârjuna’s philosophy of the ‘middle way’ and some modern commentaries on it. The module will approach Buddhism as a philosophical world-view, rather than as a religious one. The module will not be involved in detailed exegesis of ancient texts. When possible the module will try to link Buddhist conceptions to contemporary ideas about personhood, consciousness and the fundamental nature of reality. You will have a mixture of seminars and lectures for this module.
The aim of this module is to provide students with an opportunity to write an 8,000 word dissertation on a philosophical topic, the precise subject of which is by agreement with the supervisor. At the completion of the module you will have had an opportunity to work independently, though with the advice of a supervisor.
Metaphysics and Language: Quine, Kripke and Lewis
The module involves the study of Naming and Necessity, a seminal text in the philosophy of language, philosophical logic and metaphysics of one of the most influential philosophers of the second half of the twentieth century: Saul Kripke. His work is generally considered the starting point of a twentieth century revolution in the philosophy of language and metaphysics, overturning the consensus established through the writings of Frege and Russell on reference and naming, and inaugurating a new era of analytical metaphysics, central to which is the acknowledgement of necessary a posteriori truths and a division between essential and accidental properties of individuals and kinds. The course will proceed via a close reading of Naming and Necessity, and also draw on additional material by Kripke, background material and some influential responses.
Philosophy of Criminal Law
There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. The criminal law raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as these: Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation? What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why? What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible? What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why? Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment? How should the criminal law function in the international context? Readings will include seminal works by historical figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, as well as prominent work by more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.
This module will teach students how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing them in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, digital marketing campaigns, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations). A number of the sessions may be delivered by professionals from outside the University, with support from the module conveners.
If you and another person had your brains swapped, would you have swapped bodies? Or should we say that you still exist in your old body, only now your memories, beliefs, personality traits, etc. are different? Would you survive teleportation? What if teleporting worked by recording your body state, destroying your body, and then creating a copy of it elsewhere? Would this copy be morally responsible for your crimes? What if the teleporter created two copies? These puzzles raise the issue of what your continued existence consists of - are you essentially a brain, a soul, a body, a set of mental states, or something else? This is the issue we will examine in this course. We will also examine the moral implications of personal identity.
Philosophy of Science
What is science? Is there a scientific method, and if so, what is it? Can science tell us what the world is really like? Is it the only way to know what the world is really like? Does science progress? What is a “paradigm” and when/how does it “shift”? Is science “socially constructed”? Can a sociological study of the practice of science tell us anything about the nature of science? Is science "value-neutral"? Should we “save society from science”? What are "the science wars" and who won? These are some of the questions we will explore in this module. We will start with the positivism-empiricism of the early 20th century and culminate with the postmodernismrelativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath. Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan.
The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. The above list is a sample of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.