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BA Modules

This is the list of BA modules running in the academic year 2020/21.

Click on the titles below to see more information, including a module description and a provisional syllabus. Module leader email addresses can be found via the staff pages. For locations, please use the UCL common timetable (which will be updated in early September).

First Year Modules (Level 4) - Term 1

PHIL0001 Ancient Philosophy

Module Leader: Saloni de Souza

Level: 4

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words)

Estimated size: 130

Description: This course introduces students to some of the central areas of philosophical enquiry in the Western philosophical tradition by way of reading classical Greek philosophy. The course will focus on Plato and then Aristotle, reading works in ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, psychology and political theory. A sample syllabus, with the relevant primary texts, is as follows:

 

Week 1: Introduction, courage in Plato

            Primary text: Plato, Laches

Week 2: Universals and particulars

            Primary text: Plato, Laches

Week 3: The elenctic method

            Primary text: Plato, Laches

Week 4: Plato’s Forms, and sensible things

            Primary text: Plato, Plato, Phaedo 74a-75b; 100a-e, Republic 476a-480a

Week 5: Plato on Forms, love, and desire (part I)

            Primary texts: Plato, Symposium 201d-212c, Phaedrus 247a-248e; 252d-256e, Lysis 218d-222a

Week 6: Plato on Forms, love, and desire (part II)

            Primary texts: Plato, Symposium 201d-212c, Phaedrus 247a-248e; 252d-256e, Lysis 218d-222a

Week 7: Aristotle's Hylomorphism

            Primary text: Aristotle, Metaphysics, VII.1-4; Physics, II.1-3

Week 8: Soul parts & types of virtue

            Primary text: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I.13, de Anima I.1, III.1-3

Week 9: Aristotle on courage

            Primary text: Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics II - III

Week 10: Aristotle on Slavery

            Primary text: Aristotle, Politics I.1-6 & I.13

PHIL0005 Introduction to Logic 1

Module Leader: Lavinia Picollo

Level: 4

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: 100% 24hr Exam (at end of term 1)

Estimated size: 100

Description: This module aims to introduce the student to the main ideas, concepts and techniques of contemporary propositional logic, including syntax, semantics and natural deduction. For most of the course, we will work with Halbach's Logic Manual (2010, OUP).

 

PHIL0007 Introduction to Political Philosophy

Module Leader: Han van Wietmarschen

Level: 4

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words)

Estimated size: 200

Description: In this module, we investigate three large sets of questions about justice and the importance of liberty and equality for a just society:

(1)  Liberty: What is liberty and why is it important? Which liberties, if any, should a just society protect? Freedom of expression? Freedom from interference? Economic Liberty? Sexual liberty? Political liberty? Can these different liberties come into conflict, and if so, should some have priority over others?

(2)  Equality: What is equality, is it important, and which kinds of equality, if any, should a just society ensure? Equality of opportunity? Equality of income and wealth? Political equality?

(3)  Reconciliation: Can a society ensure the equality and liberty of its citizens at the same time, or are these political values inherently in conflict with one another? If they are conflicting values, which is to take priority?

To facilitate our investigation, we will examine three theories of justice: utilitarianism, libertarianism, and liberal egalitarianism. These three theories do not represent an exhaustive set of answers to our questions, but these three views are central to much of contemporary political philosophy, and they shape political thinking outside of philosophy as well.

Justice has three main aims: (1) to make explicit the normative ideas that underly our views about the basic institutions of our society, (2) to evaluate the adequacy of those normative ideas, (3) to try to think and argue in a systematic and reasoned way about these questions together, on a basis of mutual respect.

Teaching Delivery

There will be a weekly lecture, and weekly discussion seminars (± 15 students per group). You will be expected to study readings for each week. The module is assessed by essay.

This module is compulsory for first year single honours philosophy students and for first year PPE students. Students from other programs and other years of study are welcome.

PHIL0008 Philosophical Study Skills: Reading, Understanding and Essay Writing

Module Leader: Sarah Richmond

Level: 4

Term: 1

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words)

Estimated size: 100

Description: Each tutorial group (maximum 4 students) is allocated to a tutor, usually an advanced PhD student, who meets weekly for an hour to discuss set texts; to improve the students’ understanding of them; to debate; and to instruct the students in essay-writing skills. Each student in the group will write some formative essays in the course of the term and may in addition be required to prepare presentations. The tutor is responsible for deciding – according to their expertise - the selection of texts to be studied, although this is done in consultation with the course convenor. See below for examples. In general, there will be a spread of different philosophical texts, possibly on a common theme, and frequently including both ‘historical’ and more contemporary texts. Assessment method 2,000-word submitted essay, due in on the first day of the following Term. It is possible to work up and submit one of the essays presented earlier in the term, in the light of feedback from the tutor.

 

First Year Modules (Level 4) - Term 2

PHIL0002 Early Modern Philosophy

Module Leader: Rory Madden

Level: 4

Term: 2

Area: C

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 165

Description: This module is an introduction to Early Modern (17th and 18th Century) philosophy, concentrating on two celebrated but contrasting philosophers of this period: René Descartes (1596 - 1650) the first of the great Continental Rationalists, and David Hume (1711 - 1776) the last of the great British Empiricists. In the first half of term we will be thinking through Descartes' Meditations (1641), and in the second half of term Book 1 of Hume's Treatise of Human Nature (1739-40), the respective masterpieces of these two philosophers (and the two essential texts for the module).  Each week's lecture and class concerns the author's treatment of some aspect of metaphysics, mind, and knowledge.  By the end of the module you will have gained knowledge of some of the key arguments and theories of early modern philosophy, developed your skills in reading, discussing, and writing critically about challenging texts -- and attained a clearer understanding of philosophical questions about self, knowledge, and the nature of reality.

PHIL0003 Knowledge and Reality

Module Leader: Nilanjan Das

Level: 4

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,000 words)

Estimated size: 135

Description: The course provides an introduction to epistemology and metaphysics. Topics to be discussed include: the nature of knowledge, scepticism, the existence of God, whether theism is rational, why the universe exists, free will, personal identity, and the metaphysics of race.

 

PHIL0004 Introduction to Logic 2

Module Leader: Lavinia Picollo

Level: 4

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 100

Description: This module aims to introduce the student to the main ideas, concepts and  techniques of contemporary first-order logic, including syntax, semantics and natural deduction. Extensions of first-order logic with identity and function symbols are also considered, focusing on definite descriptions and non-denoting terms. Most of the course is based on Halbach's The Logic Manual (2010, OUP). Other mandatory readings are Russell (1905) "On Denoting" and Quine (1948) "On what there is". NB PHIL0005 Introduction to Logic 1 is a pre-requisite for this module.

 

PHIL0006 Introduction to Moral Philosophy

Module Leader: Mark Kalderon

Level: 4

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 165

Description: This module is an introduction to moral philosophy through a close examination of two key historical texts. Specifically, we will read selections from Hume's Treatise and Kant's Groundwork. The aim is to introduce you to themes in moral philosophy and prepare you for further study in moral philosophy as well as further study of Hume and Kant.

Indicative Topics

The module will cover the following topics:

1. The nature of moral motivation, whether it is reason or desire that moves us to act as morality requires

2. Whether moral requirements can move us to act contrary to our interests

3. Whether moral requirements are universal

4. The connection between self-knowledge and virtue

Teaching Delivery

Teaching will consist in a weekly lecture and a weekly seminar. You will be required to do the reading for each week and participate in seminar.

The student might consult the optional reading for the course, two books based on similar courses, namely, David Wiggins’ Ethics, Harvard University Press, 2009, and John Rawls' Lectures on the History of Moral Philosophy, Harvard University Press, 2000.

 

Second Year Modules (Level 5) - Term 1

PHIL0011 Applied Ethics

Module Leader: John Vorhaus

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 45

Description: This course will examine some selected topics in applied ethics.

The following topics will be covered: abortion, rape, euthanasia, non-human animals, future people, affirmative action, disability, privacy and the ethics of immigration.

Students will be expected to read at least two papers for most topics, and to participate actively in the back-up seminar. Assessment will be by an two-hour examination, in which students will be expected to answer two questions.  This final paper will offer a wide range of questions to choose from, but a question on each topic is not guaranteed.

 

PHIL0013 Philosophy of Mind

Module Leader: Rory Madden

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 75

Description: This is an intermediate-level module introducing a range of problems, positions, and arguments in the philosophy of mind: the philosophical study of mental phenomena and their relation to the rest of reality. You will develop knowledge of different definitions of 'the mind’, competing theories of the mind–brain relation, and puzzles about the phenomena of sensory perception, consciousness, and self-consciousness. Each week’s lecture and class discussion is focused on a core reading drawn from 20th and 21st century debates, and by the end of the module you will have attained a critical understanding of some cutting-edge research in the area. You will put this to work in a summative essay, which builds upon your tutor's feedback on a formative essay written during the term as well as weekly comprehension exercises.

There are no pre-requisites for the module but the following can be recommended as general background reading:

• Chalmers, David 2002 Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings (this is an anthology containing some of the core readings)

• Crane, Tim. 2001 Elements of Mind

• Kim, Jaegwon 1996 Philosophy of Mind

PHIL0022 Philosophy of Language

Module Leader: James Hutton

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: This module will introduce you to topics in contemporary analytic philosophy of language. The central questions we will examine concern the fact that language is meaningful – that words can be used to say something about things in the world. How does this happen? In what ways can language be meaningful? How do different elements of language get their meaning? The aims of this module are to examine these questions by looking at the most prominent philosophical theories of the meaning of names, the meanings of sentences, and the different ways that our words can be meaningful.

The module will cover the following topics, which may be subject to variation depending on developments in academic research and the interests of the class:

Meaning and names:
  • Purely referential theories of names
  • Frege’s theory of sense
  • Russell’s theory of descriptions
  • Kripke’s causal-historical theory of reference
Meaning and sentences:
  • Grice’s theory of speaker meaning
  • Implicature (when we say one thing but mean something else)
  • Speech-acts (the different actions we can perform with words)

 

Teaching Delivery

This module will be delivered in two ways. There are weekly one-hour lectures for the whole group. There are then weekly one-hour seminars, divided into smaller groups. One of these seminar groups will be taught by the module leader, the others by one or more PGTAs depending on course size. Each student will therefore attend the weekly lecture and one seminar each week. We expect students to read the essential reading given on the reading list, and to be ready to contribute in the seminars where appropriate.

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

Understand and explain the theories of language we cover in the module.
Understand and explain the key arguments given for and against these theories.
Philosophically evaluate and assess these theories and the key arguments given for and against them; evaluate whether these arguments effectively support or undermine the theories they are targeted at. 
Understand and explain how these theories and arguments, and their evaluation, connect with one another and with broader philosophical issues where appropriate.

 

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

William G. Lycan, 2019, Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction (3rd ed) excluding chapters 6, 8-10, 14-15.

 

PHIL0028 Topics in Political Philosophy

Module Leader: Joe Horton

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 75

Description: This module investigates questions that are both central to political philosophy and of current political importance. They are likely to include: What does it take for a political system to be just? Can we support equality of opportunity without also supporting equality of outcome? How can we come to own natural resources? Does global inequality matter as much as national inequality? Should we bother voting? Is it wrong to contribute to climate change? Should we retain the institution of marriage? What do we owe to future generations?

Here are some examples of texts you are likely to be reading for the module:

Elizabeth Anderson, ‘What is the Point of Equality?’, Ethics 109 (1999): 287–337
G. A. Cohen, Self-Ownership, Freedom, and Equality (Cambridge University Press, 1995): Chapter 3 and Chapter 4
Andrea Sangiovanni, ‘Global Justice, Reciprocity, and the State’, Philosophy & Public Affairs 35 (2007): 3–39
Paula Casal, ‘Why Sufficiency is Not Enough’, Ethics 117 (2007): 296–326
Julia Nefsky, ‘Consumer Choice and Collective Impact’, in Anne Barnhill, Mark Budolfson, and Tyler Doggett (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics (Oxford University Press, 2018): 267–286

 

The module is delivered through a weekly one-hour lecture and weekly seminar discussions. There are one or two required readings each week. You will be expected to read these before the seminar and make notes that summarise the main arguments and ideas.

The module is assessed by a summative essay (maximum length 2500 words). You will be strongly encouraged to write a formative essay (maximum length 1500 words), which will be due around the end of week 8. The formative essay is intended to serve as a draft of the summative, so it may answer the same question.

By the end of the module, you should have developed a good understanding of some key debates in political philosophy and be able to explain these debates to others; have developed the skills needed to critically evaluate these debates; have developed your writing and communication skills, particularly with respect to clarity and structure; and have produced an essay that demonstrates these skills with respect to at least one of these debates.

PHIL0149 Kant

Module Leader: Sebastian Gardner

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: The course provides an introduction to Kant's theoretical philosophy. The course will study the main ideas and arguments in Kant's Critique of Pure Reason and Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics. It will consider both questions of interpretation and issues of critical assessment.

 

PHIL0176 Meaning and Interpretation

Module Leader: José Zalabardo

Level: 5

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: Module Content and Indicative Topics

On the standard conception of the place of linguistic meaning and mental content in the world, there are facts about what speakers mean by linguistic expressions and about what people believe and desire. Interpretation is the process by which we gain access to these facts—we use the evidence at our disposal to determine what people mean by what they say and the contents of their mental states. On this standard conception, facts about meaning and content are generated by connections between language and the mind, on the one hand, and the world, on the other. These facts do not depend in any way on the interpretative procedures by which we seek to discover them.

Since the last few decades of the 20th century, several philosophers have challenged this conception, arguing that facts about linguistic meaning and mental content are somehow produced by the procedures that we employ for ascribing meanings and contents. The goal of this module is to provide a general introduction to this approach. We will focus on the work of four of its main advocates: WVO Quine, Donal Davidson, Saul Kripke and Daniel Dennett.

Topics covered by the module will include:

Quine on the indeterminacy of translation
Davidson on truth, meaning and radical interpretation
Kripke’s interpretation of Wittgenstein’s rule-following considerations
Dennett on the intentional stance

Teaching Delivery

The module will be delivered by a one-hour lecture and a one-hour seminar each week. You will be expected to do preparatory reading for each session and to be able to take part in seminar discussion.

By the end of the module:

You will have gained a deep understanding of the specific ideas put forward by the authors studied in this module.
You will be able to assess their proposals as well as their general approach in philosophical semantics, and to compare them to other major approaches to the subject.
You will have enhanced your interpretative skills regarding difficult philosophical texts.

You will have developed your ability to grasp and discuss highly abstract philosophical issues.

 

Recommended Reading         

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

Gibson, Roger F. 1998. Radical translation and radical interpretation. https://www.rep.routledge.com/articles/thematic/radical-translation-and-radical-interpretation/v-1.
Quine, Willard Van Orman. 1960. Word and Object. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, Chapter 2.

 

Davidson, Donald. 1973. "Radical Interpretation". Dialectica 27:313-28.
Dennett, Daniel C. 1987. "True Believers". In The Intentional Stance. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
Kripke, Saul. 1982. Wittgenstein on Rules and Private Language. Oxford: Blackwell.

                                                 

Second Year Modules (Level 5) - Term 2

PHIL0009 Aesthetics

Module Leader: James Wilson

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 90

Description: This module aims to provide you with an introduction to aesthetics and the philosophy of art. While aesthetics is occasionally thought as synonymous with the philosophy of art, it examines questions raised by experiences that are appreciated for their own sake in a much wider variety of contexts, including natural environments, and watching sport.

The course focuses on two main themes. First, the nature and justifiability of aesthetic judgements. Questions addressed may include: How should we reconcile the commonly held thought that taste is subjective with the equally commonly held idea that some artworks are nonetheless better than others? Is there a right or wrong way to experience the aesthetic qualities of a sunset or a starfish?

The second theme is the contemporary debates in the philosophy of art. Questions addressed may include the nature and value of art (can just anything count as art if you put it in a gallery?), the aesthetic value of forgeries, what we can learn about life from art, and why we value painful works such as tragedies. 

Teaching delivery

The module is taught by a weekly one-hour lecture, and a smaller one hour seminar. Core readings will be set for each week, and it is expected that you read these before the lecture.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

• Recognise and assess a range of philosophical arguments in aesthetics and philosophy of art.

• Use examples of artworks and particular experiences to reflect on the aptness of some philosophical theories about art and aesthetic experience.

• Reflect independently on, and write reasoned responses to, some central questions in the field.

 

PHIL0012 Metaphysics

Module Leader: Luke Fenton-Glynn

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2500 words)

Estimated size: 75

Description: This module will examine core themes and debates in contemporary metaphysics, equipping you not only with an understanding of these core topics, but also with conceptual tools that will help you become a participant in the debate.

Sample topics (may vary slightly year to year):

• Identity & Change

• Possibility & Necessity

• Causation

• Space & Time

Teaching Delivery

There will be one 1 hour lecture per week plus one 1 hour seminar per week. You will be required to read a set of ‘Key Readings’ each week (normally 1-2 articles or equivalent) prior to the lecture. Seminars will be an opportunity to engage in interactive discussion of the week’s topic.

By the end of the module, you should:

1. Have a sound understanding of a range of core themes and debates in contemporary metaphysics.

2. Be equipped with the understanding and conceptual resources needed to contribute to these debates yourself.

3. Have further honed your ability to analyse arguments, and construct rigorous arguments yourself.

4. Have improved your essay-writing skills.

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core text. This can be found in the UCL Library, but it might be a good idea to buy your own copy:

Lowe, E. J. (2002): A Survey of Metaphysics (Oxford: OUP) ISBN: 978-0-19-875253-0

PHIL0014 Knowledge

Module Leader: Lucy O'Brien

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 45

Description: This module is designed to deal with a variety of topics in epistemology – the philosophical study of knowledge. The curriculum will vary from year to year. Topics include: theories of knowledge; theories of justification or warrant; scepticism; contextualism; sources of knowledge: perception, memory, introspection, testimony.

Provisional Syllabus & Core Readings

Week 1. Knowledge by Testimony
- Hume (1748) Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Section X
- Fricker (1995) ‘Telling and Trusting: Reductionism and Anti-Reductionism of Testimony’, Mind, 104: 393-411

Week 2. A Priori Knowledge
- Giaquinto (1996) ‘Non-Analytic Conceptual Knowledge’, Mind, 105: 249-68.

Week 3. What is a Justified Belief? I
- Greco (2013) ‘Justification is Not Internal’ in Steup et al (eds.) Contemporary Debates in Epistemology

Week 4. What is a Justified Belief? II
- Feldman (2013) ‘Justification is Internal’ in Steup et al (eds.) Contemporary Debates in Epistemology

Week 5. Knowledge as Justified True Belief
- Ayer (1956) The Problem of Knowledge, Chapter 1, pp.7-35.
- Gettier (1963) ‘Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?’, Analysis, 23: 121-3.

Week 6. Knowledge as JTB+truth-tracking
- Nozick (1983) Philosophical Explanations, Chapter 3, Section 1 ‘Knowledge’ pp.172-96

Week 7. Can Knowledge Even Be Analyzed?
- Zagzebski (1994) ‘The Inescapability of Gettier Problems’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 44: 65-73
- Williamson (1995) ‘Is Knowing a State of Mind?’, Mind, 104:533-65, Sections 1-3 & 5

Week 8. Virtue Epistemology
- Sosa (2017) Epistemology, Chapter 8 ‘Mind-World Relations’

Week 9. Scepticism
- Pryor (2000) ‘The Skeptic and the Dogmatist’, Noûs, 34: 517-49

Week 10. Contextualism
- Lewis (1996) ‘Elusive Knowledge’, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 74(4): 549-67

PHIL0024 Ethics

Module Leader: Douglas Lavin

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 90

Description: This module is a survey of central questions and concepts of recent ethical theory. Precise contents may vary slightly by year. Some topics include: the nature of the good, egoism, utilitarian accounts of right and wrong action, virtue (esp. justice and benevolence), partiality and impartiality, moral luck. 

Recommended general background reading:

• Williams, Morality an Introduction to Ethics

• Scheffler, Consequentialism and Its Critics

 

PHIL0030 Topics in Aristotle

Module Leader: Saloni de Souza

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (2,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: This course deals with some of Aristotle’s most influential ideas.  We will begin with one of his ethical works, the ‘Nicomachean Ethics’, and then move on to his metaphysics in the ‘Categories’ and the ‘Physics’, the main text.  We will consider questions of interpretation, try to understand how Aristotle’s ideas fit together and engage with his views and arguments critically.

Topics we will cover:

1. Conceptions of happiness in the ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

2. Friendship in the ‘Nicomachean Ethics’

3. Substance in the ‘Categories’

4. The four causes in the ‘Physics’

5. Teleology in the ‘Physics’

6. Chance in the ‘Physics’

7. The infinite in the ‘Physics’

8. Time in the ‘Physics’

9. Place in the ‘Physics’

10. Self-motion in the ‘Physics’

 

PHIL0185 Protecting Dignity: Degradation, Captivity and the Vulnerable

Module Leader: John Vorhaus

Level: 5

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term 3

Estimated size: 45

Description: An introduction to questions in applied ethics and philosophy of law about human and animal dignity, and the prohibition on degrading treatment and punishment.

We explore conceptions of dignity and degradation, and examine the characteristics and any wrong inherent in degrading treatment and punishment, as imposed upon prisoners, people held in detention centres, people with dementia and other disabilities, and non-human animals.

The course includes readings in applied ethics, jurisprudence and international human rights law.

The course will include lectures on the following ten topics:

Distinctions: torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and punishment

Degrading treatment and punishment

Corporal punishment and bodily searches

Kantian dignity and respect for persons: Korsgaard, Wood, Parfit, Kerstein

Contemporary accounts of dignity: Waldron, Rosen, Hill

Advocates of human dignity: Velleman, Nussbaum, Margalit

Scepticism about human dignity: Sangiovanni, Rosen, McMahan

Unawareness: the dignity of people with advanced Dementia

Dignity and disability

Non-human animals: the ethics of captivity

Final Year (Level 6) - Term 1

PHIL0025 Logic and its Limits

Module Leader: Lavinia Picollo

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: Coursework: Four problem sets 25% each

Estimated size: 30

Description: The purpose of this module is to present the basic methods and results of contemporary logic. The emphasis is on the practical skill of formulating and proving results about logical systems. Students are introduced to basic set theory, enumerability and non-enumerability, isomorphisms and cardinality of models, the Compactness and Löwenheim-Skolem Theorems, inexpressibility results, sequent calculi, soundness and completeness results, and, time permitting, incompleteness and non-standard models of arithmetic. Most of the course is based on Jeffrey & Boolos' Computability and Logic (2007, CUP, 5th edition).

 

PHIL0041 Early Wittgenstein

Module Leader: José Zalabardo

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: The purpose of this module is to present some of the central doctrines of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. The module focuses on the account offered in this book of the structure of reality and our ability to represent it in thought and language. We will also study ideas of Bertrand Russell and Gottlob Frege that are relevant for the development of Wittgenstein’s thought.

The module will enable you to understand these important ideas, overcoming the obscurity of Wittgenstein’s writing. This will contribute to your general understanding of the central philosophical issues that Wittgenstein addresses. It will also develop your ability to interpret difficult philosophical texts.

Topics covered by the module will include:

Russell’s dual-relation theory of judgment
Russell’s multiple-relation theory of judgment
Russell and Wittgenstein on forms

Wittgenstein’s picture theory
Frege on unity and unsaturatedness
Wittgenstein on the unity of the proposition
Wittgenstein on the unity of facts
Objects and expressions as common structural features
Substance and simplicity

 


Teaching Delivery

The module will be delivered by weekly two-hour lecture/seminars, combining presentation of material by the lecturer and general discussion of the ideas presented. You will be expected to do preparatory reading for each session.

By the end of the module:

You will have gained a deep understanding of some of the central ideas put forward by Wittgenstein in his early period.
You will be able to connect Wittgenstein’s proposals to contemporary debates in metaphysics, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind.
You will have enhanced your interpretative skills regarding difficult philosophical texts.

You will have developed your ability to grasp and discuss highly abstract philosophical issues.

 

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

Wittgenstein, Ludwig. 1974. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Translated by D. F. Pears and B. McGuinness. 2nd ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul. Original edition, 1961.
Zalabardo, José L. 2015. Representation and Reality in Wittgenstein's Tractatus. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

 

 

PHIL0042 Adorno: Art and Politics

Module Leader: Tom Stern

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: The course will provide a detailed overview of the philosopher T W Adorno’s views on art, politics and the relationship between the two. We will study certain key primary texts as well as some of the important secondary literature. The main texts for the course will be Adorno’s Minima Moralia and Adorno and Horkheimer’s The Dialectic of Enlightenment. In addition to these primary texts, Brian O’Connor’s Adorno (Routledge) provides a good introduction to Adorno’s thought.

PHIL0067 Free Speech and Theories of Autonomy

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: This module investigates two complementary topics: (1) theories of autonomy, as they have been developed by philosophers writing about ethics and the self, and (2) defences of free speech, as they have been developed (and criticised) by legal and political theorists. With respect to (1), we’re interested in what it means to be autonomous, how and why the process of desire-formation has a bearing on a person’s autonomy, and whether it is possible for someone to autonomous desire their own subordination. With respect to (2), we’re interested in what kind of conception of autonomy – and of the individual, as such – different theorists have invoked in seeking to defend free speech, and what kinds of theoretical justifications for free speech can be developed in light of different conceptions of autonomy. The insights into the nature of autonomy that we gain from thinking about the topics in part (1), will inform the critical inquiry that we carry out in part (2). Assessment is via a major essay, and there will usually be some kind of minor, reading-related tasks that you’re required to complete during the term. Classes are a mixture of lectures, small-group discussion, and whole group discussion. Representative examples of readings that we look at during the course are John Christman, “Autonomy and personal history” (Canadian Journal of Philosophy 21/1, 1991, pp. 1-24), and Susan Brison, “The autonomy defense of free speech” (Ethics 108/2, 1998, pp./ 312-39).

PHIL0077 Equality

Module Leader: Kacper Kowalczyk

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: This module is about equality, considered from a moral, social, and political perspective. We will focus primarily on equal and unequal (or hierarchical) social relationships. Our first set of questions will be broadly theoretical: what is it for people to relate to one another as equals, what is it for them to relate to each other in hierarchical ways? What distinguishes paradigmatically egalitarian social relationships--between friends, for example, or between democratic citizens--from hierarchical social relationships such as those between persons of different ranks in the military, members of different castes, or members of different social classes? Second, we will look at broadly evaluative questions: why do we care about our social standing? Why do we feel insulted when mistaken for a person of lower standing, and pride when we rise on social ladders? Are such feelings justified? Third, we will look at the normative evaluation of egalitarian and hierarchical social relationships. Should we relate to one another as equals? Does a just society promote or secure the equal social standing if its members?

Each week, there will be a reading from philosophy, as well as a reading from one of a range of academic disciplines including history, sociology, psychology, anthropology, and law.

There will be a weekly 2-hour seminar for all enrolled students. There will also be a bi-weekly 1-hour seminar exclusively for BA students.

The module is primarily aimed at students from philosophy BA, MA, and MPhil programmes, but students from other programmes are also welcome.

PHIL0079 Advanced Topics on Moral Philosophy

Module Leader: Ulrike Heuer

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: B

Assessment: 100 Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: We will explore theories of responsibility, in particular their explanations of its grounds, its scope and its limits. We will also discuss some fundamental skeptical challenges to the practice of holding ourselves and others responsible. In light of these general considerations, we will then examine more specific topics, such as responsibility for attitudes, moral luck, blameworthiness, excuses and collective responsibility. The aim of the module is to develop an understanding of the nature of responsibility, and the resources and problems of contemporary approaches. Introductory readings:
• R. Jay Wallace, Responsibility and the Moral Sentiments, Cambridge (Mass.): Harvard University Press 1996.
• Susan Wolf, Freedom Within Reason, Oxford: Oxford University Press 1990. • Daniel Statman (ed), Moral Luck, SUNY Press 1993.

PHIL0083 Dissertation

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 6

Terms: 1 & 2

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: Dissertation (8,000 words) 30 Credits

Day / Time: Arranged with supervisor 

Estimated size: 30

Description: The dissertation module is an optional module that can only be taken in your final year of study. Enrolment requires approval by the Departmental Tutor. The 30 credit dissertation is a 8,000-word essay on a philosophical topic of your choosing, subject to the availability of a member of staff with appropriate expertise to supervise it, and approval by the Departmental Tutor. Tuition involves four one-hour sessions of one-on-one supervision by a member of staff. The module is taken over the course of Term 1 & Term 2. The research will be self-directed, though with the guidance of your supervisor. The dissertation submission deadline is 1st day of 3rd term by 4.00 pm.

PHIL0084 Guided Research

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 6

Term: 1 or 2

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: Essay (4,500 words)

Day / Time: Depends on module chosen

Estimated size: 30

Module Aims: To provide students with an understanding of an area of current philosophical research and to offer them the opportunity of engaging in the methodology of philosophical research practiced in leading research universities in the world. The student should gain experience of the method of study and instruction expected of a graduate student in the first years of a research degree. Intended Learning Outcomes: The student will produce a significant piece of writing in the relevant research area. The student will gain an understanding of the key issues in that area of the discipline, and will encounter some of the core classical readings and/or some of the most important recent literature on the topic. They will gain an understanding of research methods in philosophy. Module Structure: Students who meet the eligibility criteria outlined below can, subject to space and with approval of the Departmental Tutor and the module leader, select a dedicated graduate-level module in term one or two from among the options on the department website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/philosophy/current-students/research-programmes/mphil-modules

Tuition: Students will attend all seminars for the module that they select. In recognition of the fact that graduate-level courses are more demanding than undergraduate courses, undergraduates taking the Guided Research Module (GRM) will receive additional support in the form of three tutorials (i.e. small group meetings) with the leader of the graduate module. Assessment: Students will complete a summative essay of the same length as the graduate students (4,500 words) due for submission on the first day of the term following the term in which the module is taken. Eligibility and Selection: To be eligible for the GRM students must have a weighted average of at least 65 in the modules they have taken in their first and second year (modules taken in the second year are weighted three times as heavily as first year modules). A maximum of two undergraduate students may take each of the modules listed above (this may be fewer if the module is oversubscribed, since graduate students will be given priority). In the event that more than two undergraduates with a weighted average of 65 or above apply to take the same graduate module (or more than one if there’s only space for one undergraduate on the module), then the students with the highest weighted averages will be selected.

 

PHIL0162 The Self in Classical Indian Philosophy

Module Leader: Nilanjan Das

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,5000 Words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: In this course, we will consider debates about the nature of the self in classical Indian philosophy. We will look at two Buddhist theories of the self: reductionism and anti-realism. We will then examine some arguments that the non-Buddhists---especially, the Nyāya philosophers---gave against these theories. Along the way, we will also discuss some of the questions that these debates raise in epistemology and ethics: for example, whether our memories give us any reason to believe in an enduring self, and whether denying the existence of the self can help us justify altruism.

 

PHIL0182 Metametaphysics

Module Leader: Tim Button

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: The central question for this course was posed by Kant: Whether such a thing as metaphysics is even possible at all. The path through the question is as follows:

1. After briefly considering Kant's answer, you will examine verificationist-inspired scepticism about the possibility of metaphysics. These sceptical challenges characterised metaphysics and science as wholly separate disciplines.

2. You will then consider the upset caused by Quine's attack on the analytic/synthetic distinction, and his criterion of ontological commitment.

3. Following Quine many metaphysicians began to regard their subject as continuous with the sciences, and you will consider this viewpoint.

4. But, even granting this viewpoint, there is still space to challenge metaphysics: after all, apparently rival metaphysical theories may turn out, on closer inspection, to be (metaphysically) equivalent.

5. You will close by considering whether metaphysics is (or should be) in the business of investigating grounding.

The course will be based entirely around weekly, two-hour seminars. Each seminar has compulsory readings. You will come to the seminar prepared with at least one question about what you have read; the seminars will be entirely structured around your questions.

The course has no formal pre-requisites. However, you are discouraged from taking this seminar if you have never studied any topics in metaphysics before (at undergraduate level or above); you will get much more from the course if you have some experience with metaphysics!

PHIL0186 Advanced Topics in Plato's Philosophy

Module Leader: Merrick Anderson

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 1

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Courswork (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: This course will focus on a particular, historically important theme that is developed across Plato’s philosophy. While it may draw on his predecessors and shed light on the ways Plato influenced his successors, the class will evaluate Plato’s contributions to the history of philosophy. Themes discussed may include: the place of virtue in the happy human life, Forms and particulars in Plato’s metaphysics or Plato’s theory of knowledge.

 

Final Year (Level 6) - Term 2

PHIL0044 Aristotle’s Moral Psychology

Module Leader: Fiona Leigh & Elena Cagnoli Fiecconi (Greek & Latin)

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: C

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: The module focuses on Aristotle's philosophy of mind and moral psychology. After a brief introduction in the first week to the central tenets of his metaphysics and epistemology, the module will cover topics including Aristotle's views human nature and human flourishing, the kinds of cognitive capacities attributable to humans and non-human animals, the emotions, virtue ethics, the doctrine of the mean and learning to be good, weakness of the will, and the role of contemplation in the good life. The central primary texts will be de Anima and the Nicomachean Ethics, although other texts will be consulted.  It is intended that students will learn to read passages from Aristotle’s works in ethics and psychology. They will develop the ability to evaluate the arguments proposed in the sources and to propose and assess different possible interpretations. They will be encouraged to reflect critically on the significance of the material. A sample syllabi, with the relevant primary texts, is as follows:

Week 1

Introduction – overview of life and works, relation to Plato – and Aristotle’s metaphysics: hylomorphism, substance, the four causes, body and soul

Primary Text: Metaphysics, VII.1-4, 6, 10-11, 13, 15, 17; Physics II.1-9; III.1-3, VIII.6; de Anima, book 1

Week 2

Eudaimonia & Function

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, book I (especially chapters 1-5, 7-9, 13)

Week 3

The Soul & Cognition

Primary Text: de Anima, books I-III (especially I.1, I.4, II.1-6, II.11-12, III.1-3), and de Motu Animalium, 6-11

Week 4

Phantasia & Emotion

Primary Text: Rhetoric book II; de Anima, III.3

Week 5

Habituation, Pleasure & Cognition

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, I.13, II.1-3, (II.4-9: optional), X.9

Week 6

Habituation & Action

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, II.4 (in detail)

Week 7

The Doctrine of the Mean

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, books II-III (especially II.1-9, III.5-12)

Week 8

The Mean Relative to Us

Primary Text: (as for last week:) Nicomachean Ethics, books II-III (esp. II.1-9, III.5-12), and VI.1-2, 5-6 (optional)

Week 9

Virtue and Akrasia (weakness of the will)

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, VII.1-10

Week 10

Two kinds of flourishing?

Primary Text: Nicomachean Ethics, book X (especially X.6-8)

PHIL0046 Advanced Philosophy of Mind

Module Leader: Lucy O'Brien

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: This module will focus on philosophy of emotion. We will critically examine the leading theories of emotion found in contemporary philosophy of mind. According to "feeling" theories, emotions are a distinctive kind of felt sensation. According to "judgment" theories, they are a kind of evaluative belief. According "perceptualist" theories, emotions are a kind of perception, akin to visual experience. According to "non-reductivist" theories, the emotions cannot fruitfully be understood in terms of other pre-existing categories in the philosophy of mind, but must be understood in their own right. To what extent can each of these the capture the nature of emotions and the role they play in our mental lives? We will also discuss further issues: do the emotions form a natural kind? What representational content do emotions have? How do emotions relate to values? How do they relate to the body?

Background reading: Deonna & Teroni (2012) The Emotions: A Philosophical Introduction

 

PHIL0052 Regulation of Intimacy

Module Leader: Véronique Munoz-Dardé

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term three

Estimated size: 45

Description: This optional course will be taught in seminar format, with one weekly two-hour meeting. It is designed to introduce students to some central questions in political and moral philosophy. The topic of the course is the politics of sex. It focuses on general ethical concerns raised by state regulation of intimate relations e.g. in marriage or prostitution. Should some things not be for sale? Is consent the key to legitimate interaction? What is involved in one person ‘objectifying’ another? Are there circumstances in which paternalism is permissible or even required?

Readings include Anderson, Herman, Langton, Nussbaum, Pallikkathayil, Parfit, O’Neill, Satz, Saul, Scanlon, Scruton, Shiffrin, Thomson, Wedgwood.

This course is intended for students with a range of specializations, but some background knowledge in philosophy (normally a minimum of two philosophy courses passed before taking this module). The course is not suitable for conversion students.

 

PHIL0053 Philosophy of Religion

Module Leader: Rory Madden

Level: 6

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: This is an advanced undergraduate course covering theoretical topics in philosophy of religion. You will develop an understanding of contemporary debates about four topics (largely avoiding traditional arguments for and against the existence of God): (1) the philosophy of mind and epistemology of religious and mystical experiences; (2) the possibility of life after death within a materialist framework; (3) cosmic fine-tuning and the multiple universes response; and (4) non-realist (expressivist, fictionalist, and Wittgensteinian) approaches to religious language and practice.

Provisional Syllabus & Core Readings

Week 1. Introduction

• James, W. 1902 The Varieties of Religious Experience Lectures XVI & XVII

Week 2. The epistemology of religious experience

• Swinburne, R. 2004 The Existence of God ch 13

Week 3. Religious experience continued

• Zangwill, N. 2004 ‘The myth of religious experience’ Religious Studies

Week 4. Materialism and life after death I

• Olson, E. 2010 ‘Immanent Causation and Life After Death’ in G. Gasser (ed) Personal Identity and Resurrection

Week 5. Materialism and life after death II

• Baker, Lynne R. 2007 ‘Persons and the metaphysics of the resurrection’ Religious Studies

Week 6. The argument from cosmic fine tuning

• Swinburne, R. 2003 ’The argument to God from fine-tuning reassessed’ in N. Manson (ed) God and Design

Week 7. The multiple universes response

• White, R. 2000 'Fine-tuning and multiple universes’ Nous

Week 8. Expressivism

• Braithwaite, R.B. 1955 ‘The Nature of Religious Belief’

Week 9. Fictionalism

• Le Poidevin, R. Arguing for Atheism ch 8

Week 10. Wittgenstein

• Wittgenstein, L. 1967 ‘Lectures on Religious Belief’ in C. Barrett (ed) Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology, and Religious Belief

PHIL0057 Topics in German Idealism

Module Leader: Sebastian Gardner

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: C

Assessment: 100% 24hr examination in term three

Estimated size: 20

Description: The course focuses on central issues in the writings of the German Idealists – Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel – with special attention to the ways in which they develop and transform Kant's philosophy. Topics covered include the theory of the self, transcendental and absolute idealism, philosophy of nature, philosophy of art, intersubjectivity, and Hegel's dialectic.

 

PHIL0068 Metaethics

Module Leader: James Hutton

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: Module Content and Indicative Topics

This module will introduce you to contemporary metaethics, a discipline which asks philosophical questions about ethics. The four questions at the centre of the course are: (i) are there truths about ethics – about what is good, bad, right, wrong, and so on? (ii) are these truths objective? (iii) are these truths part of the natural world, and (iv) how does our ethical thought and language work? You will investigate these questions by learning about the major theories defended in contemporary metaethics, and as part of this you will learn about various specific problems and questions investigated by contemporary philosophers in this area.

The module will cover the following topics, which may be subject to variation depending on developments in academic research and the interests of the class:

• The five theories we will discuss are:

o Moral naturalism: the view that there are ethical truths, they are objective, and part of the natural world.

o Moral non-naturalism: the view that there are ethical truths, they are objective, but that they are not part of the natural world.

o Constructivism: the view that there are ethical truths, but that they are not objective.

o Error theory: the view that there are no ethical truths.

o Expressivism: the view that ethical language and thought is not best understood as trying to represent ethical truths.

• Some of the problems and questions we will investigate include:

o The nature of ethical properties and facts, and their place in the world

o The link between ethical judgements and motivational states like desires and intentions

o The nature of our knowledge of ethical properties and facts: can we know about such things? How? Is it problematic to learn about ethical truths on the basis of what others tell us?

Teaching Delivery

This module is delivered in weekly two-hour classes, which are a mixture of lecture and discussion. Students are expected to read the compulsory reading set each week and prepare for discussion in the seminars.

This module has historically been popular. If you try to register on this module, we would advise exploring additional options, just in case.

By the end of the module, you should be able to:

• Understand and explain the broadest aims and questions of contemporary metaethics.

• Understand and explain the most popular contemporary metaethical theories and some prominent problems and questions investigated by contemporary philosophers in this area.

• Philosophically evaluate and assess these theories and the answers given to these problems and questions, and understand what kinds of considerations are relevant to this assessment.

• Understand and explain how these theories and questions, and their evaluation, connect with one another and with broader philosophical issues.

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library or online through UCL Library Services:

• The International Encyclopedia for Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette, is a great resource for short introductory articles to topics. You could start by reading the article on metaethics, written by Jonas Olson. Other good articles include those on moral naturalism, non-naturalism, non-cognitivism, quasi-realism, and error theory.

• Copp, David, ed. The Oxford Handbook of Ethical Theory. Oxford University Press, 2007, chapters 1, 3, 4, 5.

PHIL0076 Philosophy and Public Policy

Module Leader: Sarah Richmond

Level: 6

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (4,000 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description:

As the title suggests, this course will consider various questions of public policy from an ethical and/or wider philosophical perspective. In the past  students have been required to work in teams to produce a jointly-authored report on a pressing issue of public policy, in contrast to the normal individual work of Philosophy. Due to the constraints and doubts associated with coronavirus, the course delivered in the Spring term of 2020 will be redesigned for the possibility of remote delivery, and with individual assignment and assessment.

The summative essay will be maximum length of 4,000 words, and will require students to discuss and to critically evaluate some current (or proposed) public policy on a matter of significance. (See links below for some documents which will give an idea of the kind of thinking students will be required to discuss).

To develop their ideas for the assessed essay, as well as a wider understanding of debates about public policy, students will be required to prepare presentations (based on relevant reading, either self-selected or recommended) in the seminar, as well as to participate in online discussion asynchronously.

Background reading:

Jonathan Wolff, Ethics and Public Policy: A Philosophical Inquiry (London: Routledge, 2011).

(Eds) Lever, A., & In Poama, A. (2019). The Routledge handbook of ethics and public policy (London: Routledge)

There are many publically available reports that students can consult. Note that it is common for the report to be made available in full as well as in a condensed form which summarises findings and recommendations.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on poverty:
https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/uk-poverty-2019-20
The Leveson Inquiry’s 2012 report on the culture, practices and ethics of the press:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/leveson-inquiry-report-into-t...
Nuffield Council: Ethics of Research in Developing Countries
http://nuffieldbioethics.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Ethics-of-resear...
Royal Society of Arts: Drugs - Facing Facts
https://www.thersa.org/discover/publications-and-articles/reports/illega...

PHIL0081 Topics in Moral Psychology

Module Leader: Douglas Lavin

Level: 6

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: Investigation of a familiar and puzzling elements of moral life, e.g., promising, forgiveness, authority, pride/shame, pleasure, respect/humiliation, self-control, love and friendship, competitiveness. Topics and texts may differ year to year.

 

PHIL0083 Dissertation

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 6

Terms: 1 & 2

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: Dissertation (8,000 words) 30 Credits

Day / Time: Arranged with supervisor 

Estimated size: 30

Description: The dissertation module is an optional module that can only be taken in your final year of study. Enrolment requires approval by the Departmental Tutor. The 30 credit dissertation is a 8,000-word essay on a philosophical topic of your choosing, subject to the availability of a member of staff with appropriate expertise to supervise it, and approval by the Departmental Tutor. Tuition involves four one-hour sessions of one-on-one supervision by a member of staff. The module is taken over the course of Term 1 & Term 2. The research will be self-directed, though with the guidance of your supervisor. The dissertation submission deadline is 1st day of 3rd term by 4.00 pm.

PHIL0084 Guided Research

Module Leader: Robert Simpson

Level: 6

Term: 1 or 2

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: Essay (4,500 words)

Day / Time: Depends on module chosen

Estimated size: 10

Module Aims: To provide students with an understanding of an area of current philosophical research and to offer them the opportunity of engaging in the methodology of philosophical research practiced in leading research universities in the world. The student should gain experience of the method of study and instruction expected of a graduate student in the first years of a research degree. Intended Learning Outcomes: The student will produce a significant piece of writing in the relevant research area. The student will gain an understanding of the key issues in that area of the discipline, and will encounter some of the core classical readings and/or some of the most important recent literature on the topic. They will gain an understanding of research methods in philosophy. Module Structure: Students who meet the eligibility criteria outlined below can, subject to space and with approval of the Departmental Tutor and the module leader, select a dedicated graduate-level module in term one or two from among the options on the department website: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/philosophy/current-students/research-programmes/mphil-modules

Tuition: Students will attend all seminars for the module that they select. In recognition of the fact that graduate-level courses are more demanding than undergraduate courses, undergraduates taking the Guided Research Module (GRM) will receive additional support in the form of three tutorials (i.e. small group meetings) with the leader of the graduate module. Assessment: Students will complete a summative essay of the same length as the graduate students (4,500 words) due for submission on the first day of the term following the term in which the module is taken. Eligibility and Selection: To be eligible for the GRM students must have a weighted average of at least 65 in the modules they have taken in their first and second year (modules taken in the second year are weighted three times as heavily as first year modules). A maximum of two undergraduate students may take each of the modules listed above (this may be fewer if the module is oversubscribed, since graduate students will be given priority). In the event that more than two undergraduates with a weighted average of 65 or above apply to take the same graduate module (or more than one if there’s only space for one undergraduate on the module), then the students with the highest weighted averages will be selected.

 

PHIL0085 Advanced Tutorials

Module Leader: Ulrike Heuer

Level: 6

Term: 2

Area: A/B/C

Assessment: Presentations (25%) & Essay (3,000 words = 75%)

Day / Time: Various

Estimated size: 30

Description: This module is designed to allow students to build on their introductory tutorial module. Students will discuss a variety of central philosophical texts on fundamental topics in a broad area of their choice. The module will allow them to enhance their skills in philosophical discussion, oral presentation and essay writing. Students will be placed in tutorial groups of two to four students, ensuring that everyone has a chance to participate in debate, and to receive feedback on their oral presentations and written work during the course. The texts studied will be selected by the course tutor in consultation with the module convenor.

Students enrolled in the 3rd Year Tutorial Module, are asked to nominate their top two preferences for the kind of philosophy to be studied in the module, either Theoretical Philosophy (A), Practical Philosophy (B), or Historical Philosophy (C). The Department will endeavour to allocate students to one of their top two preferences, wherever possible. Students will be allocated to an instructor (a Postgraduate Teaching Assistant), and in the first week of class (or possibly in the week before), will be given a syllabus and reading list. During the semester students will in alternate weeks present or read aloud draft essays (of about 2000 words) to the small group, in response to the overarching topic and in light of the reading list. The group will then discuss the work critically and offer suggestions for improvement, or indicate further questions or lines of inquiry. The assessment will be a 3,000 word essay produced as a result of the draft essays discussed during the semester.

 

PHIL0160 Philosophy of Space and Time

Module Leader: Luke Fenton-Glynn

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 30

Description: In this module, you will study key philosophical issues relating to space and time. When it comes to the philosophy of space, the module will focus upon the longstanding debate between absolutists and relativists about space considering the key arguments on both sides of what has been an important philosophical debate from Early Modern times to the present day. The module will then examine how the modern theories of Special Relativity and General Relativity suggests that the distinction between space and time may be less sharp than it first appears. When it comes to time, the module will address questions concerning whether there are reasons to doubt the reality of time, debates about the nature of time (such as why time seems to ‘pass’ and have a ‘flow’), and what accounts for the direction of time will also be addressed.

Sample topics (may vary slightly year to year):

Absolutism & Relationalism about Space in Newtonian Physics
Leibniz’s Arguments for Relationalism
Newton’s & Kant’s Arguments for Absolutism
Galilean Relativity
Special Relativity
General Relativity
Is Time Real?
Special Relativity & The Metaphysics of Time
Time Travel
The Direction of Time

Teaching Delivery

There will be one 2 hour seminar per week. You will be required to read a set of ‘Key Readings’ each week (normally 1-2 articles or equivalent) prior to the seminar. For undergraduates there will likely be an optional one-hour ‘backup’ seminar fortnightly (this depends on the number of enrolees, but there has always been one to date).

By the end of the module, you should:

Have a sound understanding of the central metaphysical debates concerning the nature of space and time.
Have a sufficient understanding of the physics of space and time to grasp how this interacts with the metaphysics (though please note that no background in physics or maths is presumed).
Be equipped with the understanding and conceptual resources needed to contribute to the philosophical debates about space and time yourself.
Have further honed your ability to analyse arguments, and construct rigorous arguments yourself.
Have improved your essay-writing skills.

Recommended Reading

In preparation for the module, we advise reading the following core texts. These can be found in the UCL Library:

Maudlin, T. (2012): Philosophy of Physics: Space and Time (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press)

Dainton, B. (2010): Time and Space, Second Edition (Abingdon: Routledge)

PHIL0165 Philosophy and Ethics of Climate Change

Module Leader: James Wilson

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: B

Assessment: 100% Coursework (3,500 words)

Estimated size: 45

Description: Climate change not only raises extremely important practical challenges, but a host of deep ethical and epistemic questions. The ethical questions you will study include the proper scope of moral concern (human centred versus biocentric views); justice in carbon emissions; individual responsibilities to mitigate climate change; what we owe to future generations; and the permissibility of geoengineering. You will also examine a range of epistemic questions about the nature and status of evidence for climate change, including the epistemic status of climate change models, and which types of climate change scepticism are reasonable.

Core skills focused on are those of philosophical reasoning and argumentation. Texts discussed will include not just philosophy, but also a variety of scientific, policy, and economic perspectives. The module would be suitable for non-philosophy students with an existing interest or expertise in climate change, but such students may find it hard going at times.

 Teaching delivery

The module is taught by one two-hour seminar each week, with an additional bi-weekly one hour seminar for undergraduates. The weekly two-hour seminar will involve a mixture of presentation by the module leader, and group discussion. Some core readings will be set for each week, and it is expected that you read these before the seminar.

By the end of the module you should be able to:

• Demonstrate critical awareness of a range of ethical and philosophical questions raised by climate change.

• Synthesise a range of empirical materials in climate science, and combine these with philosophical theories, to provide a reasoned analysis of what should be done in a range of cases.

• Reason cogently about a range of possible responses to some practical problems caused by climate change.

PHIL0184 Philosophy of Arithmetic and Incompleteness

Module Leader: Tim Button

Level: 6 (also taught with graduate students)

Term: 2

Area: A

Assessment: 5 problem sets (10% each) & essay 2500 words (50%)

Estimated size: 30

Description: Arithmetic is the branch of mathematics which studies the natural numbers — i.e. the numbers 0, 1, 2, 3, and so on — and operations on the numbers — like addition and multiplication. This course explores the features that make arithmetic distinctive, and pose unique philosophical challenges. The path through the course is as follows.

1. Arithmetic is infinitary, abstract, a priori and apodictic, necessary, completely general, and scientifically indispensable. You will start by surveying these features, and encounter the general idea of a formal theory of arithmetic.

2. A common sentiment is that, in mathematics, consistency suffices for existence. You will explore this idea, understanding what it means to describe a theory as "consistent", and how one might establish consistency. This will lead into into a discussion of Hilbert's programme, which aimed to provide proofs that (various) mathematical theories are consistent. Famously, this programme floundered when Gödel discovered his incompleteness theorems.

3. You will learn about the technical details behind the incompleteness theorems, including such concepts as: (computable) enumerability, representability, the arithmetization of syntax, Tarski's Diagonal Lemma, Gödel sentences, and consistency sentences.

4. Armed with this technical knowledge, you will assess the philosophical significance of these results, both for Hilbert's programme and for other philosophical positions.

5. To finish the course, you will consider other approaches to the philosophy of arithmetic, and how they deal with the phenomenon of incompleteness.

The course will be based entirely weekly lectures, backed up with classes. Each lecture/class will have compulsory readings.

Please note that the course combines philosophical and formal elements! Although it is not a formal prerequisite, the course will presuppose introductory logic (at the level of first year Introduction to Logic 1 & 2); at the very least, you will need to be comfortable with how first-order logic works. The course will not presuppose any particular prior knowledge of mathematics; only that you know how to count, and can make sense of expressions like ‘x2 + 3x + 2 = 0’ (even if you cannot quite remember how to solve it). Still, if the very idea of looking at an expression like that fills you with horror, this course is not for you. Half of your final grade will be based on your performance in problem sets, which will help to reinforce your understanding of the technical details behind the incompleteness theorems.

In addition BA Philosophy students can take the following modules in EISPS (European & International Social and Political Studies) as Philosophy modules (i.e. do not count as a module from another department): 

ESPS0013: Hegel    
ESPS0020: Nietzsche    
ESPS0022: Why Democracy?    
ESPS0024: Law, Freedom, and Morality

For more information about the EISPS modules above please see the EISPS website.

In their second and third year, students can also take one or more of the following modules from the Science and Technology Studies (STS) Department as philosophy modules (i.e. not counting as modules from another department).
HPSC0004 Philosophy of Science 1 (Level 4; Area A; Term 2; available to second years only)
HPSC0014 Philosophy of Science 2 (Level 5; Area A; Term 1) 
HPSC0109 Philosophy of Medicine (Level 6; Area A; Term 2)
For further details about these modules, see the STS Undergraduate Module Catalogue.

In their second and third year students can also take MATH0050 Logic or ECON0027 Game Theory as a philosophy module (i.e. not counting as a module from another department).

Information for UCL students from other departments:

The following modules can only be taken by students studying Philosophy degrees (Single and Combined Honours): PHIL0008: Philosophy Tutorials / PHIL0083 Dissertation/ PHIL0084 Guided Research Module and PHIL0085 Advanced Tutorials.

Registration for all modules is via Portico. Once Philosophy students have registered their modules spare places will be allocated on a first come first served basis. If the module has seminars these are automatically allocated via the common timetable to fit with your module choices once the module selection has been approved by both departments.