Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2008-2009 (archived)


Department: Philosophy


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2008/09 Module Cap None. Location Durham


  • At least one Level 2 module in Philosophy OR in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine, OR other appropriate evidence.


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide a grounding in modern metaphysics, conceived as a study of the most fundamental structure of reality, and a grasp of those key concepts required for a representation of the world not only as it is but as it must be.


  • Topics to be covered during the module will include: rival conceptions of the nature of substance, the distinction between universals and particulars, events and facts, problems of identity and individuation, the nature of necessity and the notion of "possible worlds", the distinction between essential and accidental properties, problems of space and time.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Have knowledge and understanding of key metaphysical theories.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • Be able to identify, explain and address philosophical questions arising in metaphysics.
Key Skills:
  • Be able to use relevant literature to examine and assess arguments for and against such theories.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Structured teaching within seminars delivers basic module-specific information and provides a framework for further study. Seminars provide the opportunity for students to debate different opinions about theories and questions under investigation.
  • Guided reading provides a structure within which students can exercise and extend their abilities to make use of available learning resources.
  • The formative essays provide the opportunity for students to test and extend their knowledge and understanding of module content, and to develop their ability to present and defend relevant arguments and theories using available learning resources, uninhibited by the need for summative assessment.
  • The unseen 3 hour examination tests knowledge and understanding of the course material, and the ability to identify and explain judgments regarding the merits and weaknesses of metaphysical theories.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Seminars 22 weekly 90 mins 33
Preparation and Reading 167
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Three-hour unseen examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two formative essays (of 2000 words maximum), one due at the end of Michaelmas Term and one due at the end of Epiphany Term.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University