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Unit information: Epistemology and Metaphysics in 2021/22

Unit name Epistemology and Metaphysics
Unit code PHILM0021
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Knowles
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This is a Masters level foundation course in epistemology and metaphysics, and aims to provide a solid grounding in these central areas of philosophy for all masters and doctoral students in philosophy. The seminar will be based around a close reading of a series of important papers by contemporary philosophers. Topics to be covered will include: existence, identity, modality, causation, probability, knowledge, scepticism, internalism vs. externalism, and others.

The aim of the course is to acquaint students with the state-of-the-art in the contemporary philosophical literature in epistemology and metaphysics, two of the central topics of philosophy. We will read and discuss a selection of the best articles or book chapters that have appeared over the past thirty years. Each week, one of the students will present on the reading for that week; this will be followed by a discussion.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have acquired knowledge and understanding of various key issues in metaphysics and epistemology,
  2. be able to construct and analyze sophisticated philosophical arguments and engage with other philosophers in constructive debate,
  3. be able to communicate ideas clearly and effectively to an audience, using blackboard, handouts, data projection (e.g. PowerPoint).

Teaching Information

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Information

Summative Assessment: One essay of up to 6,000 words (excluding bibliography) - 100%


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. PHILM0021).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.