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Unit information: Space, Time and Matter in 2021/22

Unit name Space, Time and Matter
Unit code PHIL20053
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Tho
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

What is space? What is time? What is matter? The aim of this unit is to examine the different answers that have been put forward to these fundamental metaphysical questions within natural philosophy. Particular focus will be placed upon ancient philosophy (Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle), early modern natural philosophy (Descartes, Newton, Leibniz) and 18th/19th century physical theory (Boscovich, Maxwell, Mach). Students will be provided with a self-contained introduction to relevant areas of physics, with the key mathematical and physical ideas discussed in parallel to the philosophical debates.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

1. demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of the key debates within the philosophy of space, time and matter,

2. demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of the key historical and contemporary literature concerning these debates and positions,

3. demonstrate the ability to critically engage with and philosophically analyse those key debates, and the key historical and contemporary literature concerning them, with a sophistication appropriate to level I/5.

4. Demonstrate skills in the written presentation of complex material in a standard appropriate to level I/5.

5. demonstrate independent research skills of a standard appropriate to level I/5.

Teaching Information

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

Assessment Information

FORMATIVE: Digital Collaborative Presentation, [ILOs (1)-(5)]

SUMMATIVE: Open Book Take Home Exam - 100% [ILOs (1)-(3), (5)]


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. PHIL20053).

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.