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Inside Philosophy

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We will embark on a philosophical journey which will enable us to begin examining our lives and questioning our assumptions.

It will look at such questions as 'what is the meaning of life?', 'what's so bad about death?', 'are you free to take this class, or was your choice determined even before your birth?' Socrates claimed that only the examined life was worth leading.

  • How do you know the world exists outside your mind?
  • Can you know other people have minds? What are minds and how are they related to brains?
  • How do our words get their meanings?
  • Why is helping an old woman across the road morally right, but knocking her out and taking her money morally wrong?
  • Are humans more valuable than chimpanzees, cats and cabbages?
  • Does morality depend on god, or is rape immoral even if there is no god?
  • Are there any good arguments for or against the existence of god?
  • Is there any good reason to believe in god?
  • What rights do individuals have?
  • What makes a society just?

This course is for anyone with an interest in philosophy and the enthusiasm to take that interest further. It operates as part of the Inside Narratives pathway, and will equip you with the knowledge, understanding and skills that will help you to study other courses in the pathway.

Learning and teaching

This course consists of nine units divided into themes. Each unit comprises a 2-hour face-to-face session between 19:00 and 21:00.

These sessions will include lectures, class discussions and group-work, source analysis activities and exercises to develop your academic skills.

There will also be an opportunity for learning outside of the classroom, facilitated by the University's virtual learning environment, Learning Central.

Coursework and assessment

Students will be expected to complete three pieces of assessed work:

  • 250-word argument reconstruction
  • 500-word critique of that argument
  • 750-word essay.

Advice and support will be provided for all three assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

  • Nagel, T. (197) What Does It All Mean? A Very Short Introduction to Philosophy. Oxford University Press.
  • Descartes, R., 'Meditations on First Philosophy'. In Cottingham, J., Stoothoff, R., and Murdoch, D., trans. (1988) Descartes: Selected Philosophical Writings. pp. 73-122. Cambridge University Press.
  • Hofstadter, D. R. and Dennett, D. C., eds (1981) The Mind's I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul. Basic Books.
  • Pojman, L. P., ed. (2004) The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.