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Unit information: Philosophy of Biology in 2021/22

Unit name Philosophy of Biology
Unit code PHILM0006
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Grose
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit will enable students to gain a good understanding of concepts and theories in evolutionary biology, and should be in a position to apply this knowledge in assessing the implications of modern biotechnology. Issues to be discussed in the seminars will include: the logical structure of evolutionary theory; the notions of fitness and adaptation; alternative conceptions of 'gene'; debates about the units of selection; the nature and individuation of species; theories of classification.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students should:

  1. Have knowledge and understanding of core issues in philosophy of biology, understand the central topics in the philosophy of biology, appreciate the extent to which traditional philosophical concerns are illuminated by work in the biological sciences, and understand foundational and methodological problems in contemporary biology.
  2. Be able to conduct independent research into a new topic, using online and library resources, analyze and understand difficult philosophical texts, and write clear academic prose.

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. PHILM0006).

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.