This module introduces you to the core topics in social psychology which is concerned with trying to understand the social behaviour of individuals in terms of both internal characteristics of the person (e.g. cognitive mental processes) and external influences (the social environment). Lectures will cover topics on how we define the self, attitudes, attribution, obedience, aggression, pro-social behaviour and formation of friendships. You’ll have an hour of both lecture and seminar time per week for this module.
In this module you’ll receive an introduction to the fascinating world of the developing child. Lectures consider different theoretical, applied and experimental approaches to cognitive, linguistic and social developmental from early to late childhood. Topics include the development of thinking, perception, drawing, understanding the mind, intelligence, attachment, language, and moral development. You’ll have an hour-long lecture weekly plus five tutorials throughout the semester.
Cognitive Psychology 1
Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes and this module will provide an introduction to the methods used by cognitive psychologists in their investigations of mental processes in humans. A wide range of mental processes will be discussed, with some introductory discussion of how they limit human performance in applied contexts. The mental processes to be discussed include those that support attention, perception, language, memory and thinking processes. You’ll have two 1-hour lectures throughout the semester.
This module will give you an introduction to the neural and biological bases of cognitive and other behaviour. You will learn about the structure and evolution of the brain and the main functions of the different part. You’ll examine how the brain receives, transmits and processes information at the neural level as well as its visual pathways. The main scientific methods for investigating brain and behaviour will also be covered. You’ll have two hours of lectures weekly plus three hour-long tutorials throughout the semester.
Self, Mind and Body
The module introduces students to several central issues in the philosophy of self, mind and body. These issues are of great importance in the history of philosophy, and they continue to attract significant contemporary philosophical attention. We will examine Descartes’ foundational contributions in his Meditations, with particular attention to his discussions of dualism and mind-body interaction. We will also study several related topics, including contemporary theories of mind.
Appearance and Reality
This module involves an examination of some of the central themes in philosophy that are found at the intersection of metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of science. Topics covered include: induction, time-travel, knowledge and justification, constitution and identity, and the laws of nature In the process of exploring these topics we will explore a range of foundational topics in metaphysics, epistemology and the philosophy of science.
This module provides an introduction to modern logic for all first year philosohy students, including those with an arts background. The module is intended to supply that basic minimum knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary which every philosophy student requires in order to understand a lot of modern philosophical writing. We introduce the symbolism of modern logic, practice translation between that symbolism and English and discuss in an introductory way the theory of the structure of thought implicit in the symbolism.
Reasoning and Argument: An Introduction to Philosophical Method
This module introduces a series of key skills relevant to the aims and methods of philosophical inquiry. It is designed to help students understand the nature and structure of arguments, acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others, and improve their ability to present their own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner. The module also aims to assist the development of an independent, reflective and self-managed approach to study, and to familiarize students with the abilities and competences that are expected to be developed during their degree.
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 (for example, 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).
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Philosophy erupted into Greek intellectual culture the 5th and 4th centuries BCE. This period of intense reflection and debate imprinted Western philosophy to the present day. This module introduces some major figures and disputes of classical Greek philosophy, themed around two central concerns: the nature of physical change and the distinction between appearance and reality.
Issues in Feminist Philosophy
This module offers an introduction to some key themes in contemporary feminist Philosophy. Feminist philosophy is philosophy that aims to shed light on the oppression of women and provide tools for combating it. It offers a good example of how philosophers have engaged with social issues and contributed to social movements. We will begin by considering the phenomenon of oppression and concepts that will be central to the module. We will then look at what feminists philosophers have had to say about four topics: embodiment and appearance, culture and imperialism, work and family, and epistemology and language. Finally we will investigate the category of ‘women’ and gender.
You will confront moral issues and make moral decisions every day, but we don't always think about them as carefully as we could. In this module, we shall engage in debates on contemporary moral and social issues in order to develop critical thinking skills that will aid students both in their broader processes of moral reasoning and in their other academic studies.
History of Western Philosophy
Through considering some of the greatest thinkers who have every lived students on this module will become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas which have shaped western analytical philosophy. They 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, Julian of Norwich, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkley, Hume, Kant, Rousseau, Godwin, Hegel, Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Mill, Marx,wollstonecroft Simone de Beauvoir, Sartre, Dewey, Wittgenstein, Elizabeth Anscombe, Iris Murdoch, Christine Korsgaard, Mary Midgley, Martha Nussbaum.
The Existence of God
This module will examine the basic philosophical issues that concern the existence of God. The lectures will cover such topics as the Cosmological Argument, the Ontological Argument, the Design Argument, and the Problem of Evil. The issues raised in this module will be quite abstract and philosophical -- the module will not be engaging in any sort of comparative religion. Often the focus will be as much or even more on the merits of the argumentative strategy itself, and the interesting philosophical issues that arise out of it, as on whether it succeeds in proving or disproving God's existence.
Philosophy and the Contemporary World
This module will provide students with the resources necessary to critically understand and constructively engage with a variety of topical practical, social, and political issues and phenomena. These include a range of psychological phenomena of relevance to both university environments and social life, and large-scale political and cultural developments that invite moral and intellectual concern. An overt aim of the module is to provide students with the intellectual skills necessary to undertake their duties as responsible citizens in a democratic society within a multicultural and multiracial world. A representative list of topics covered include:
• Implicit bias
• Refugees and Open borders
• Stereotype threat
• ‘Chilly climates’
• Imposter syndrome
• Prestige bias
• ‘Bullshit’, truth, and post-truth politics
• How to create and deploy ignorance (climate change denial)
• Race, racism, and racial politics
• Gender politics
• Safe spaces and ‘snowflakes’
• Free speech
• Media ethics
• The nature and role of liberal education
Cognitive Psychology 2
This module will examine:
• Perception, with particular emphasis on vision, but also hearing, taste, touch and smell
• The Psychology of Language, including linguistic theory, speech, parsing,word meaning, and language production
• The Psychology of Reading, including word recognition, theories of eye-movement control, and reading multi-media displays
• Human Memory, covering the basics of encoding, storage and retrieval with particular reference to real-world applications of memory research
• Thinking and Problem Solving, including heuristics, biases, evolutionary perspectives on human rationality, and group decision making.
Social and Developmental Psychology
This module will examine:
- Current Issues in Social Psychology
- Social cognition and social thinking
- Persuasive communication and attitude change
- Social Influence
- Conformity and obedience
- Group Decision Making & Behaviour Change
- Intergroup behaviour
- Perceotions and Motivations
- Evolution of Mentolising and Theory of Mind
- Oncology of Mentalising Development Theory of Mind in Children
- Mindblind: Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Phylogeny: The Mental world apes
Neuroscience and Behaviour
This module will cover several issues in neuroscience and behaviour that are particularly relevant to understanding the biological bases of psychological functions. Among the topics to be covered are: psychopharmacology, psychobiological explanations of mental disorders such as schizophrenia and Alzheimers Disease, sexual development emotion and behaviour, methods of studying neuropsychological processes, the effects of brain damage on mental functioning including amnesias, introduction to classical and instrumental conditioning, theories of associative learning and memory, what forgetting might tell us about learning, topics in comparative cognition and cognitive abilities, what can animals learn?
Conceptual and Historical Issues in Psychology
Psychology’s historical and conceptual foundations are examined. With respect to the historical and conceptual roots of Psychology the contributions of ancient greek, medieval, renaissance, and 18th, 19th and 20th century thinkers are considered with particular emphasis on the relationship between body and mind and the nature of consciousness. At the same time, the scientific status of Psychology is considered in comparison to other social and physical sciences. Throughout the module the relationship between the individual and society is discussed.
Personality and Individual Differences
The module covers the psychological explanations of personality and individual differences. In this module the relationship between the individual and society will be highlighted. In particular the major personality theories are considered in detail and the application of these theories to areas such as abnormal psychology, criminal behaviour and health are discussed. IQ is also covered and evolutionary bases of traits.
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. You’ll have a weekly two hour lecture and one hour seminar.
An Introduction to Contemporary Metaethics
Are there moral facts? 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 you’ll be thinking about, amongst other things, moral ontology, moral language, moral psychology and moral reasons.
Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism
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 postmodernism-relativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath. Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan. While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in science. More technical/formal reading materials will be made available to those who are interested, but such readings will not be compulsory for this module.
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.
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 (foundationalism vs. coherentism; internalism vs.externalism; evidentialism); the justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification; the relation between your evidence and what you know; the natures of perceptual experience and perceptual knowledge; safety and contextualist theories of knowledge; Moore's response to skepticism; testimonial knowledge, "virtue" epistemology and its relation to "reliabilist" epistemology.
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.
School of Humanities Work Placement
This module will embed employability into the curriculum, giving students direct experience of a workplace, with consequent benefit for their future employability, developing relevant hard and soft skills (both subject-specific and beyond). The module involves part-time professional placement (1 day a week for 6 weeks or equivalent) in an external organisation. It is aimed at developing hands-on work experience and employability skills in a workplace relevant to Arts/Humanities graduates. Lectures, seminars and workshops will be organised across the School, with input by the Careers team to provide learning support/‘scaffolding’.
Topics in Asian Philosophy
This module explores some of the major figures, texts, and schools of the philosophical traditions of India, China, and Japan. The Asian traditions address familiar philosophical themes – in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics - but often approach them in ways that may seem unfamiliar. Studying them can challenge our culturally inherited presuppositions in instructive ways, as well as illuminating the history and current state of those cultures – an important thing in an age when many Westerners are ‘looking East’. Topics may include: Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, and Hinduism; the Analects, Bhagavad Gita, and Zhuangzi; the relationship between morality and religion; etiquette, ethics and aesthetics; the nature of ultimate reality and the good life; and the relation of Asian philosophies to the Western tradition. No special linguistic or historical knowledge is expected or required.
Special Topic in the History of Philosophy
Philosophers have often contributed to huge advances in science and technology, while at the same time witnessing, and sometimes causing, political and social upheaval on a grand scale. In this module, we shall track the philosophical thoughts and motivations behind some of these advances and upheavals. The module will proceed via a close reading of primary texts, drawing on additional material by scholars, background material and influential responses. Possible subjects are some of the writings of, for example, Aristotle, Descartes, Margaret Cavendish, Isaac Newton, Thomas Reid, Emilie Du Chatelet, David Hume, Jean Le Rond D'Alembert and Mary Shepherd. Please note: the module is not a survey of the history of philosophy, and it may focus on the writings of only one philosopher in any given year that it runs.
Typical year three modules
Cognition in the Real World
The central theme of this module is to explore how cognition functions in the real world, and to demonstrate the relevance of cognitive psychology to everyday life. In particular, it will address how cognitive models and theories can be applied to tasks that we all perform. Topics that will be covered will include attention in driving, memory for emotional events, and spatial navigation. As well covering contemporary cognitive psychology at an advanced level, components of the module will also integrate across other relevant research areas, including developmental psychology and neuropsychology.
The aim of the course is to introduce the students to the concept of abnormal psychology and the application of psychology in clinical settings. The course will illustrate how psychological models are developed and how they are applied in developing interventions. The emphasis will be on examining theory and evaluation of interventions for a number of disorders/clinical issues.
Neuropsychology of action: The body in the brain
This module examines the psychological and neural basis for the planning and control of human action, . Students will be introduced to scientific research, through their guided exploration of the neuropsychological bases fpr human action . During the course students will experience the multi-disciplinary nature of research into human behaviour, and by the end of the course, will understand how a single issue can be addressed from multiple perspectives including: experimental psychology, neurophysiology, neuroanatomy, neuropsychology, and functional brain-imaging.
Understanding Developmental Disorders
This module explores how psychologists study and understand disorders of cognitive development. The course focuses largely on disorders which include impairments in attention, memory and/or executive function. Disorders covered include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism, reading disorders and Down Syndrome. List of lectures
1. General introduction and research methods
2. Typical development of attention/memory and executive function
5. Developmental Coordination Disorder
6. Fragile Syndrome
7. Down Syndrone
Neuropsychology and Applied Neuroimaging
This course examines the deficits seen in individuals who have suffered brain damage. Students will learn about the impairments of language, memory, perception, attention, motor control, executive control and emotion. This course evaluates both the clinical and theoretical aspects of these syndromes. In particular, this course will evaluate the implications regarding how the healthy brain functions.
Neuropsychology in Dissertation
You will complete a 10,000 word dissertation in the area of Neuropsychology that most interests you.
Cognitive Development and Autism
This module will cover modern versions of nativist and empiricist theories of cognitive development. It will also give an overview of current theories which have been proposed to explain Autism Spectrum Disorder. It will provide an evaluation of these theories using behavioural, clinical and neurophysiological evidence from a range of domains including: Sensory and visual processing; drawing and musical skills (savant skills); social and emotional processing; imitation.
Forensic and Mental Health
The area of forensic mental health is extremely pertinent in both the criminal justice system and mental health services, and the integration of the two. It is a growing area of research in Psychology and it is an area in which students are increasingly wishing to work following their degree. The module will concentrate on offending behaviours, typical categorisation of those who commit crimes or harm themselves, standard interventions for offenders and the neuroscience of offending. The course will also cover the current research on specific offending behaviours, and examine the role of the criminal justice system and health service in dealing with individuals who offend.
This course provides an introduction to the contexts in which educational psychologists operate by examining the historical development of this profession within a set of major legislative and policy contexts, such as the recent drive to increase social inclusion. In particular, successes in, and barriers to, establishing a role as scientist-practitioners in educational settings will be explored. The module will concentrate on assessment and intervention work with specific populations such as young people who display challenging behaviour in schools, vulnerable adolescents, and bilingual learners. Additionally the course will examine psychological approaches to group work with teachers and pupils as well as the application of system theory in helping transform aspects of schools and other organisations.
Developmental Dyslexia: Psychological and Educational Perspectives
This module will provide an overview of developmental dyslexia from psychological, educational and applied perspectives.
Mechanisms of Learning and Psychopathology
Supported by lectures, seminars and tutorials, this module aims to provide students with an understanding of the mechanisms of learning and memory in human and non-human animals, and an analysis of pathological conditions involving these systems. Students will study topics that include perceptual learning, the contextual and attentional modulation of learning and behaviour as well as more neuroscientifically focused topics such as the role of the hippocampus in memory. Clinical topics include the acquisition of phobias, memory discords, the psychological side effects of cancer treatment, and depression. Assessment is split 50/50 between an end of year examination and coursework (dissertation).
Applied Psychology: Road User Behaviour
The course will cover road user behaviour from a number of psychological perspectives. Topics will include a critical review of brain scanning studies of driving, the visual skills required for driving, the effects of aging and experience, distraction (from in-car devices such as mobile phones, and from out-of-car objects such as road-side advertisements), and the skill of hazard perception (and whether this can be adequately measured as part of the licensing procedure). The course will also cover memory for driving events (from everyday driving to road traffic accidents), influences of emotion on driving (e.g. does the aggression-frustration hypothesis explain road rage?), and social and individual differences related to crash risk (e.g. sensation-seeking and risk propensity).
The Visual Brain: Evolution, Development, Learning & Adaptation
The central theme of this module is to explore how the architecture and function of the visual brain has been designed and shaped by experiences over a range of timescales. The innate properties of the eye and visual brain that are present at birth have been designed over millions of years of evolution. The brain continues to physically change it structure and function within a lifetime – a property termed “brain plasticity”. Over the years of development, brain plasticity is the driving force for the maturation of different visual brain functions. Even well into adulthood, plasticity is retained in the form of learning, which can optimise performance for certain visual tasks and be exploited for therapeutic uses. Another prominent form of plasticity in the visual brain is that caused by adaptation – effects of visual experience over the preceding tens of milliseconds to minutes. The module will examine the consequences of evolution, development, learning and adaptation for visual brain function and perception.
Philosophy of Sex
This module considers the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. It also considers philosophical questions arising from the experience of groups considered sexual and gender minorities, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people. Topics include the nature of sexual desire; sexual consent; sexual objectification; prostitution; pornography; sexual orientation; and trans and intersex experiences. Students will be encouraged to explore the relationships between these topics and to consider their application to debates and practices outside of philosophy.
Topic in the Philosophy of Sciences
When we evaluate scientific theories there are a number of criteria not directly connected to predictive success, or even the ability to accommodate the empirical evidence, that collectively are called “theoretical virtues”. For example, we often evaluate theories partly on their simplicity, explanatory power, coherence with other theories, ability to unify disparate domains, fruitfulness for future research, etc. In this module will focus on one of these theoretical virtues in order to address in detail if and how it is related to epistemic success. Can we, contrary to first impressions, account for the virtue in terms of predictive success? Can we give an epistemic defence of the virtue? Can it be defended on pragmatic grounds? How does our answer to the previous question affect the attitude that we should take towards our best scientific theories? While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. All reading assignments for this module are accessible to students with no training in science. More technical/formal reading materials will be made available to those who are interested, but such readings will not be compulsory for this module.
God and Money
This is a module in the philosophy of political economy. It explores the tensions between earlier visions of society where obligation, personal fulfilment, trust, and the common good were understood primarily in religious terms, and a modern society where these are understood primarily in economic terms. These tensions remain present in contemporary religious critiques of capitalism: the module will start with recent Papal pronouncements on economic life and close with a critique of the ‘theology’ inherent in money itself. In the first half of the module, various philosophical and theoretical resources will be introduced: e.g. theories of money from Aristotle and Marx; Graeber’s work on the anthropology of debt; Nietzsche and the post-Nietzscheans on governmentality through debt; Weil and Gorz on work and time. In the second half of the module, more contemporary perspectives will be introduced, such as modern money theory and explanations of the recent credit crisis; ecological perspectives on political economy; ecclesial visions of economic life; and a new perspective on money and debt as the defining principles of modern civilization. This module has been designed for both Philosophy and Theology students, and may be taken as part of either degree programme.
Advanced Topics in Philosophy of Mind
The philosophy of mind addresses philosophical questions about the mind and aspects of the mind: mental or psychological states and capacities. Advanced topics in the philosophy of mind will focus on a specific area (or areas) of the philosophy of mind. Which specific area (or areas) of philosophy of mind is in focus may vary from year to year. But, for example, advanced topics in the philosophy of mind may focus on the philosophy of perception, and cover questions such as what is it to perceive the world? What is it to have a conscious experience in perceiving the world? In perceiving the world, does anything get between the perceiver and the world, or is perception immediate and direct? How does perception lead to knowledge? Does perception present higher-level properties such as being a tree, or being of a certain race, or just lower-level ones such as having a certain size, and shape? So the topics for this area of philosophy of mind may include: the nature of perception, the nature of perceptual consciousness, the directness or indirectness of perception, the perception-knowledge link, and what properties or kinds perception can present.
Taking Utilitarianism Seriously
This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:
• The nature of wellbeing
• Reasons and rightness
• Rights and justice
• Individual decision-making
• Praise and blame
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.
Dissertation in Philosophy
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.
Language, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics
Typically, this module introduces students to some advanced topics in contemporary analytic metaphysics. The module focuses on important topics, which have received recent attention. The topics covered will include: metaphysical nihilism (why there is something rather than nothing, and the subtraction argument), causation (the counterfactual theory and other accounts), the metaphysics of grounding (and concerns with such a notion), the metaphysics of absolute and relational space and time, and vagueness and indeterminacy. The module presupposes a certain basic familiarity with general issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, but is designed to serve as an advanced introduction to new topics that is completely accessible to the uninitiated.
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.
You will be introduced to the thought of Karl Marx thematically via texts selected from the Marx canon. Marxian themes considered will include: Alienation, The Materialist Conception of History, Ideology and The Labour Theory of Value. Gaining an overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics will be an important objective for the course.
Advanced Topics in Meta-ethics
It is a peculiar fact about humans that we engage in distinctively normative discourse – that is, discourse characterised by terms such as ‘good’, ‘wrong’, ‘unjust’, ‘better’, ‘rational’ and so on. This course deals with the philosophical study of the nature of this discourse: its distinctive methods, meanings, and place within a broader understanding of ourselves and the world we inhabit. The primary focus will be on the understanding of ethical discourse (a study known as ‘meta-ethics’) and in particular on the following questions: - Semantic: What is the distinctive meaning of ethical terms? Are ethical judgements the sorts of things that can be true or false? - Psychological: Is the state of mind involved in accepting an ethical judgement a cognitive state like a belief, or is it a non-cognitive state like a desire or preference? - Metaphysical: Are there moral facts and properties that our moral discourse hooks us up with? If so, what are they like? - Epistemological: Can ethical judgements ever be justified? If so, how? How do we come to be aware of ethical facts and properties, if they exist? These questions will be discussed through the study of three main theories: realism, expressivism and error theory. In the process the course will cover such issues as: the objectivity of moral truths, moral relativism, moral subjectivism, the nature of moral motivation, the possibility of amoralism and the possible comparisons between ethics and science.
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 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, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations). A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the University, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. Students will be invited to draw upon their prior philosophical learning to generate their assessments, except in the case of handout where they will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.
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.