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


  • Ethics and Values (PHIL1011)


  • None.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • A detailed study of important moral theories past and present.
  • The module is also intended to provide a background to Applied Ethics.


  • This is a module in which topics in the module of Ethics and Values will be examined in more detail, alongside a number of new topics and authors.
  • The module will also provide a theoretical background to the third year module on Applied Ethics.
  • The precise list of topics and authors to be studied may vary from year to year. Topics will be taken from a list including:
  • Egoism and altruism
  • Virtues and 'the good life'.
  • Moral realism
  • Duties and rights
  • Meaning and use of moral terms
  • Contractarian theories of ethics
  • Utilitarianism
  • Morality and personhood
  • Authors discussed will normally include: Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Kant, Mill, Nietzsche, MacIntyre, Nagel, Rawls, Hare and Williams.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will have knowledge and understanding of key philosophical theories relating to the foregoing issues.
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
  • interpret and criticise relevant texts.
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.
  • 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 2,500 word essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay in Michaelmas, of approximately 2000-2500 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