Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)


Department: Philosophy


Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap Location Durham
Tied to V500
Tied to LV25
Tied to QV35
Tied to CV85
Tied to VV56
Tied to VL52
Tied to XV35
Tied to LA01
Tied to LMV0
Tied to CFG0
Tied to WV53


  • None.


  • At least one other 'Year 1' module in Philosophy.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide an introduction to philosophical problems in epistemology, the study of knowledge; and metaphysics, the study of reality and ourselves.
  • Subsequent modules to which it will relate are: Modern Philosophy I, Philosophy of Mind, Metaphysics, and Language, Logic and Reality.


  • The module introduces a broad range of problems in epistemology, such as what 'knowledge' is, and whether we can have it; and in metaphysics, such as what kind of beings we are, and what the world we inhabit is like.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module, students will have knowledge and understanding of key philosophical theories relating to some of the following issues:
  • knowledge and scepticism
  • theories of justification
  • sources of knowledge
  • knowledge and society
  • minds and bodies
  • time
  • free will and determinism
  • identity
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:
  • expressing oneself clearly and succinctly in writing
  • comprehending complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defending opinions by reasoned argument
  • seeking out and identifying appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackling 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

  • 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 8 fortnightly 1 hour 8
Preparation and Reading 170
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
two-hour examination 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
1500 word essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

1 essay 1500 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