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Introduction to Philosophy of Mind

Duration 10 weekly meetings
Tutor Dr CleaRees
Course code PHI24A5186A
Fee £264
Concessionary fee £211 (find out about eligibility and funding options)

John Percival Building
Colum Drive
CF10 3EU

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How can meat think? Could a robot feel pain?

Can computational complexity explain consciousness? Could you survive bodily death? Could a machine know your mind better than you yourself? What is free will and do you have it? What makes you the same person as the newborn squalling indignantly on expulsion from the warm protection of your mother’s womb? Is the one body-one mind rule anything more than a purely parochial insistence on the metaphysical equivalent of local parking regulations?

This module will introduce a selection of key philosophical questions concerning mind, freedom and identity, drawing on fictional and non-fictional narratives to illuminate discussion of formal academic texts.

No previous knowledge of philosophy will be assumed.

The following list of sample topics indicates the kind of subject matter which may be discussed but the specific issues selected will vary:

  • Philosophy of mind: the mind-body problem; the nature of minds/theories of mind; consciousness and qualia; artificial intelligence.
  • Metaphysics: free will; personal identity; the nature of the self.
  • Related topics in epistemology, such as self-knowledge.

The course will draw on stories from fiction and non-fiction to illustrate the theoretical positions discussed and students are encouraged to draw further examples from their own experience and wider reading.

Who is this course for?

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 two pieces of assessed work amounting to about 1500 words. Advice and support will be provided for both assignments and you will receive detailed feedback relating to strengths and areas for improvement on both pieces of work.

Reading suggestions

Reading and resources will vary according to the specific topics covered in the module. Students considering the module may find the following resource helpful:

Hofstadter, Douglas R. and Daniel C. Dennett (eds), The Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul (New York: Basic Books, 1981). This is an anthology which combines excerpts from fiction, science and philosophy with reflective discussion and analysis. It also includes a discursive list of further reading which is organised topically and corresponds to the conceptual structure of the anthology. Although this does not cover the current debate, it provides a highly accessible starting point for further exploration and introduces many questions which continue to lie at the heart of the philosophical discussion.

Students may also like to explore related resources available at CFrees.

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.