There are no compulsory modules - choose modules to deepen existing knowledge or explore something new.
If you choose to write a dissertation you can do this in either subject or combine both into a single piece of work.
You must pass year three which counts approximately two thirds towards your final degree classification.
Free Will and Action
This module involves the study of a set of related issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. Questions to be discussed are likely to include all or most of the following:
- What would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’) in a sense that would make it an action for which we are morally responsible?
- 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?
- And what about the fact that at least some of our actions seem to have purely physical causes?
- If they do, doesn’t this make any ‘mental causes’ of those actions redundant?
- 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?
Karl Marx's thoughts and words have had an enormous impact on history. Revolutions have been fought, economic policies pursued and artistic movements established by followers (and opponents) of Marxism.
Together we'll examine some of Mark's original writing and explore his thinking. Specific themes we'll cover include:
- the materialist conception of history
- the labour theory of value
By the end of the module you should have a good overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics.
This module is worth 20 credits.
This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will investigate the syntax and semantics of various logics, including first order logic, modal logics, and three-valued logics, as well as ways to apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics such as possibility and necessity, vagueness, and the Liar paradox.
We’ll cover ways to reason and construct proofs using the logics we study, and also ways to reason about them. We’ll look at proofs regarding the limits of formal logic, including proofs of soundness, completeness, and decidability.
Dissertation in Philosophy
The aim of this module is to provide you 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.
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. This power relationship raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as:
- 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?
- Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
- What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what?
- 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?
We'll look at thinking from across history, from seminal figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, to more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.
No experience of criminal law necessary. Ideal for both philosophers and practitioners.
This module is worth 20 credits.
This module will teach you 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. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.
This 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).
In this module we'll ask questions like:
- How should human beings interact with the non-human natural world?
- Is nature intrinsically valuable, or does it possess value only by being valuable to us?
As part of this we'll cover topics such as:
- the moral status of animals
- the ethics of zoos
- responsibility for climate change
- whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature
- the environmental impact of having children
- the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophy of Education
Education plays a fundamental part in all our lives. It shapes who we are as individuals, our value systems, our political and religious outlooks. As a consequence it changes how society looks, how it operates, and what we think society ought to be like. Education then, is of the most profound importance.
As philosophers we are uniquely placed to think long and hard about education:
- what is its role?
- what should its role be?
- who gets to decide what is taught?
Rising to this challenge this module creates the space, and provides the tools, for you to do just this.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Philosophy of Recreation
We expect recompense when we work but appear to do recreational activities just for their own sake.
You'll use philosophical tools to examine the meaning and value of such recreational activities, exploring questions such as:
- Is recreational sex and drug consumption merely about pleasurable sensations?
- Why do we put such great effort into achieving seemingly arbitrary goals in sport?
- Does it make sense for fans to feel elated if they played no part in a team’s success?
- Is there something special about being in a zone of effortless attention whilst playing an instrument?
- Could risking death seeking sensations of the sublime by climbing a mountain be better than safely siting on your sofa watching trash tv?
Knowledge, Ignorance and Democracy
Politics and truth have always had a complicated relationship. Lies, bullshit, spin, and propaganda are nothing new.
Polarization is on the rise in many democracies and political disagreements have spread to disputes about obvious matters of fact.
But have we really entered the era of 'post-truth' politics? Is debate now framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the facts?
In this module, we'll explore questions such as:
- Should the existence of widespread disagreement in politics make us less confident in our own views?
- Are voters morally or epistemically obligated to vote responsibly?
- Is it rational for citizens to base their political views on group identity rather than reasoned arguments?
- Should we have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts?
- Is democracy the best form of government for getting at the truth?
This module is worth 20 credits.
Subjectivism and Relativism in Ethics
One often hears the opinion that ethics is subjective. But what does this mean, exactly?
And one often hears the view that ethics is relative. But relative to what?
And what is ‘ethics’ anyway?
And if ethics is subjective, or relative, what does that mean for ethics as a discipline? Does it mean, for example, that our ethical pronouncements can never be incorrect, never be challenged, or never disagreed with?
This module addresses these and other questions about the foundations of ethics, and gives you the material to develop your own views of this peculiarly human phenomenon.
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
Philosophy and Mortality
This module explores philosophical issues related to human mortality - illness, ageing, death and dying, and other dimensions of our embodied vulnerability. Typical topics might include:
- the phenomenology of chronic somatic illness
- psychiatry and mental health
- the oppression of ill persons
- the nature and practice of pathography (narrative accounts of the lived experience of illness)
- the social experiences of ill persons
- the moral and spiritual significance of illness and ageing
- the experience of dying
- empathy, grief, and mourning
- death and the meaning of life
- the significance of human mortality to wider philosophical issues and concerns
By the end of the module, you should be able to identify and articulate the ethical and existential significance of various experiences of human mortality; to employ a range of different methods and approaches to understanding those experiences; and to think sensitively and humanely about human experiences of ageing, illness, and dying.
Philosophy of Sex
- How many people have you had sex with?
- Is there a difference between sex work and working in a supermarket?
- What is love? Do we chose who we love?
- What is gender? What do we mean when we say 'trans women are women'?
These are some of the many philosophical questions which arise when you start thinking about sex and related topics.
During this module we will tackle the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. Possible topics we'll look at include:
- the nature of sexual desire
- sexual consent
- sexual objectification
- sexual orientation
Together we'll look at the experiences and testimony of a variety of groups, including those considered sexual and gender minorities. Then we'll use philosophical tools to explore the issues that such testimony raises.
This module is worth 20 credits.
Advanced Topics in the 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. 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
- what properties or kinds perception can present
- issues about the senses
- specific issues about vision and audition
Advanced Topics in Aesthetics
This module is a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics could include definitions of art, the objectivity versus the subjectivity of aesthetic evaluations, emotional response to art, the ontological status of artworks, and Walton's theory of make-believe.
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 the status of aesthetic evaluations, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks.
Language, Metaphysics, and Metametaphysics
Typically, this module introduces you 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.
Year three optional theology modules are also available to choose in year two.
The Theology of Paul
Explore the theology of Paul as found in the seven letters that are generally considered to be written by him (Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, Philemon).
The major themes explored are:
- word of God
- the church
- the ‘last things’.
Watch Professor Richard Bell give an overview of this module in less than 60 seconds.
Virtue Ethics and Literature
Virtue ethics is an ancient form of moral practice, which has also come back into prominence in recent years. It believes that ethics belongs to the lived experience of a tradition and is therefore narrative in character, offering itself naturally to literary embodiment. We shall study key ancient Greek texts, such as Aristotle's Nichomachaen Ethics and Theophrastus' work on character, as well as Cicero, Aquinas and contemporary reconsturals of the virtue tradition by Alasdair MacIntyre and Stanley Hauerwas. Virtue ethics will then be analysed in literary texts, such as Homer's Iliad, the medieval poem, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and Graham Green's Brighton Rock. Students will also do a short presentation, applying virtue ethics to a particular moral problem or specific form of activity, e.g nursing, war, or teaching.
Watch Professor Alison Milbank give an overview of this module in less than 80 seconds.
The Philosophy of Religion
In this module you’ll explore significant problems in the philosophy of religion, such as the credibility of the existence of God, the relation between religion and science, the relation between religion and morality, the problem of evil, and the possibility of an after-life. There will also be discussion of significant themes, such as the nature of being, of faith, of religious experience, of religious language, and of religious love. This module is taught through four hours of lecture and an hour-long seminar weekly.
Watch Dr Conor Cunningham give an overview of this video in just over 60 seconds.
You will undertake an extended piece of investigative and synthesising work on a subject of particular interest and produce a final written dissertation of 8000 words.
- provide practice in researching a topic independently and in depth
- involve use of a range of primary and/or secondary information sources
- create coherent and sustained analysis and argument in both writing and speech.
Islamic Theology and Philosophy
This module examines how Muslims have addressed fundamental theological and philosophical questions relating to their faith. These questions concern the foundations of religious knowledge and authority, God's unity and attributes, God's relationship to the world, divine determinism and human freedom, prophecy, and eschatology. Key figures will include the rationalist Mu'tazili and Ash'ari theologians, the philosophers Ibn Sina (Avicenna) and Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and the influential medieval intellectuals al-Ghazali, Ibn al-'Arabi, and Ibn Taymiyya. Selections from primary sources will be read in translation, and special attention will be given to the integration of late antique philosophical traditions into Islamic theology.
Watch Dr Jon Hoover give an overview of this module in just 60 seconds.
Women and Warfare in the Hebrew Bible
Explore a range of historical, ethical, and theological issues relating to women and warfare in the Hebrew Bible and ancient Israel.
You'll start by looking at the Hebrew Bible's portrayals of women and the feminine, including:
- biblical queens
- the role of women in the community.
Next, you'll move on to warfare, considering, for example:
- the relationship between military victory and righteousness in the Bible
- the theological implications of YHWH being a god who fights in battle
- how Judah's greatest ever military defeat became the defining point of its theology.
Watch Dr Cat Quine give and overview of this module in less than 100 seconds.