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 study both major political philosophers of the past and current topics where there is principled debate on matters of political importance and to explore the intellectual links between the two.


  • The module will fall into two parts.
  • In the first part of the module, a selection of classic philosophical discussions are examined, from a list including Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx.
  • In the second part, fundamental political concepts in the Liberal tradition will be examined, focussing on the work of J.S. Mill and selected from a list including liberty, individuality, femimism, freedom, justice, rights, democracy, equlity and minimal and redistributive conceptions of the state.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end fo the module, students will be able to demonstrate both knowledge and critical understanding of :
  • the key ideas of the political philosophers treated in the first part of the module
  • the main philosophical debates concerning the nature and significance of political liberty
  • the philosophical implications of some modern political issues
Subject-specific Skills:
  • 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 essays provide 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 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.

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: 100%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
three-hour unseen written examination 100%

Formative Assessment:

Two essays of 2000 words each

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