Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Philosophy


Type Open Level 2 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • At least one module from the following: Ethics and Values (PHIL1011), Knowledge and Reality (PHIL1021), Reading Philosophy (PHIL1041).


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide a grounding in modern philosophical psychology and an understanding of those key concepts required for a proper characterisation of the mind, from both a first-person and a third-person perspective.


  • Topics covered in the module will include a number of the following:
  • Mind in the natural world: Cartesian dualism; physicalism; functionalism; epiphenomenalism; qualia and zombies; realist, instrumentalist and eliminativist approaches to intentionality; subjectivity and objectivity; narrow and broad content.
  • Rationality: Artificial intelligence and the frame problem; how people do reason and how they should reason; different conceptions of rationality; extended cognition, mental action.
  • Philosophy of perception: Sense data theory, representational theories of perception, Naive Realism and disjunctivisim.
  • Emotion: Emotions as feelings; cognitive approaches to emotion; emotion and rationality; emotional experience.
  • Other minds: Folk psychology; theory of mind and simulation; the role of interaction in interpersonal understanding; Davidson's three varieties of knowledge.
  • Free will: metaphysics of free will; the neurobiology of free will; free will as an epiphenomenon.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have knowledge of some central topics in contemporary philosophy of mind, including the mind-body problem, intentionality, rationality, emotion, intersubjectivity and volition. They will understand a number of broad philosophical positions, including varieties of functionalism, physicalism, dualism, naturalism and anti-naturalism. They will also have a more specific appreciation of influential arguments and seminal works in the field.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • correctly utilise specialist vocabulary
  • grasp, analyse, evaluate and deploy subject-specific concepts and arguments
  • locate, understand, assess and utilise pertinent philosophical (and, where appropriate, historical) sources
Key Skills:
  • express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing
  • comprehend complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defend their opinions by reasoned argument
  • seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackle problems in a clear-sighted and logical fashion.

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

  • Lectures deliver basic module-specific information, and provide a framework for further study.
  • Discussion groups provide opportunities for students to test their own understanding of the material studies, and defend and debate different opinions.
  • Guided reading provides a structure within which students exercise and extend their abilities to make use of available learning resources.
  • The formative essay provides the opportunity for students to test their knowledge and understanding of the module content, and their ability to present and defend relevant arguments and theories, uninhibited by the need for summative assessment. In addition to this formative essay, students may also have the option to participate in a structured, group-based medial project.
  • The summative essay tests knowledge and understanding of the course material, and the ability to identify and explain issues covered in the module, and, using relevant research material, to present different approaches to those issues, and make reasoned judgement on the merits and demerits of such approaches.
  • The unseen examination tests students' overall knowledge and understanding of the module content at the end of the module, and their ability to bring it to bear on new problems under pressure of time.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Discussion groups 9 fortnightly 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour unseen written examination 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One summative essay of 2,500 words 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of 2500 words

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