Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2022-2023 (archived)

Module PHIL1091: The Philosophical Traditions

Department: Philosophy

PHIL1091: The Philosophical Traditions

Type Tied Level 1 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2022/23 Module Cap None. Location Durham
Tied to V500
Tied to WV53
Tied to XV35
Tied to LA01
Tied to LMV0
Tied to CFG0


  • None


  • At least Two other 'Year 1' modules in Philosophy.

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • None


  • To introduce students to a range and variety of philosophical approaches.
  • To provide a grounding for the key explanatory and interpretative skills expected at later stages of the programme.
  • To introduce students to the practice of researching and writing philosophy by examining ways in which philosophers shape knowledge in particular areas.
  • To foster student independence through research-led teaching.
  • To enhance progression from Level 1 to Level 2 and, in particular, to provide a foundation for proposing a dissertation topic in Level 2.


  • The content of the module addresses three important philosophical skills: philosophical thinking, philosophical writing, philosophical research.
  • The logical thinking skills section will address topics relevant to the following:
  • Introduction to logic, arguments and validity
  • Syllogistic logic
  • Truth-functional logic
  • Philosophy of logic
  • Philosophical logic
  • Modal Logic
  • The analytic writing skills section will address topics relevant to the following elements of a philosophical essay or dissertation:
  • Philosophical Arguments: thesis, structure, evidence
  • Philosophical Analysis 1: definitions, distinctions, analysis
  • Philosophical Analysis 2: dilemmas, counterexamples, dialectic
  • Philosophical Style: coherence, clarity, conciseness rigour
  • Philosophy and Persuasion: ethos, pathos, logos, kairos
  • Philosophical Composition: notes, outlines, drafts, redrafts
  • The research skills section will give the underlying questions that should guide essays and dissertations in the following areas of philosophy:
  • How to craft a dissertation research question
  • Current questions in logic, mind and language
  • Current questions in epistemology
  • Current questions in metaphysics
  • Current questions in ethics
  • Current questions in aesthetics
  • Current questions in the history of philosophy (including connections to science and medicine)
  • In addition to covering the foregoing topics, the module’s discussion groups will cover:
  • Seminar dynamics and how to ask questions.
  • Understanding the marking criteria
  • Organizing and structuring a philosophical presentation
  • Finding suitable philosophical resources in the library and online
  • Argument/concept mapping software
  • Avoiding implicit bias

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • By the end of the module students will possess:
  • An understanding of the way in which the tools of logic can help formulate a clear answer to a set question.
  • An understanding of the main features of an analytically constructed essay or dissertation.
  • A critical understanding of the approaches developed by philosophers to research questions within different branches of philosophy.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to:
  • Understand the main branches of philosophy.
  • Use logic to identify the strengths and weaknesses of arguments.
  • Understand the main elements of philosophical writing.
  • Identify and define the research questions addressed by different kinds of philosophers.
  • Assess the ways in which philosophers address philosophical problems going beyond the simple accumulation of knowledge.
  • Identify and to criticise conflicting philosophical interpretations.
  • Plan and write an independent project.
  • Discuss and explain ideas in a small-group context
Key Skills:
  • By the end of the module students should be able to understand and use:
  • Logical thinking techniques
  • Analytic writing techniques
  • Philosophical sources of evidence and information
  • Philosophical research questions

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

  • 20 lectures that explain the philosophical skills required to complete the summative assignments.
  • 18 discussion groups that provide opportunities to discuss and internalise the lecture topics.
  • Regular assignments will provide concrete opportunities to practice the skills presented in lecture.
  • Discussion group presentations provide the opportunity for students to learn how to present both their own material and other people’s material in a collaborative setting.
  • The summative assignments provide students with the opportunity to combine the skills they have learned in the regular assignments and presentation, and to demonstrate the ability to identify and explain philosophically interesting issues, and, using relevant research material and to present different approaches to those issues.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 20 Weekly 1 hour 20
Discussion Groups 18 Weekly 1 hour 18
Preparation and Reading 162
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Logic (Take home) Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Exercise 100%
Component: Book Review Component Weighting: 25%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 100%
Component: Project Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

Exercises in weekly discussion groups, 300 word summary of a major work in philosophy given as presentation in discussion groups and 300 word proposal given as a presentation in discussion groups

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