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BAEcon Economics and Sociology / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Philosophical Methods

Unit code PHIL20892
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Finding a method appropriate to the task is philosophy’s perennial first problem, and there has never been much of a consensus about the right or best method’ (Daniel Dennett). This course is concerned with evaluating certain methods and forms of argument distinctive to philosophy. The course provides the opportunity to test out these methods and patterns of argument. We will be concerned with such questions as: How are they supposed to work? How well do they work? What are their advantages? What are their flaws?


Pre-Requisites: 20 PHIL credits at Level 1

20 PHIL credits at Level 1.


The module aims to raise issues about how philosophy is done and how it should be done. First, the module seeks to identify certain core methodological principles used in contemporary philosophy. Second, the module will consider some of the important applications that these principles have been put to. Third, the module will assess the principles: how, and to what degree, can these principles be justified? Are all of these principles fundamental or can some be subsumed by others? How reliable are these principles?

Learning outcomes



Teaching and learning methods

One 2 hour lecture and one 1 hour tutorial weekly

Knowledge and understanding

Knowledge and Understanding: Students should acquire knowledge of some of the central methodological principles used in contemporary philosophy and to understand how they are applied in various key philosophical arguments and debates.

Intellectual skills: Skills in following and constructing arguments, and in formulating and assessing central methodological principles in philosophy.

Practical skills: skills in time-management, in independent working, and in developing motivation and personal initiative.

Transferable skills and personal qualities: The module should increase students' skills in reasoning, in presenting arguments and theses, and in assessing claims and counter-claims.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Problem solving
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

Chris Daly Introduction to Philosophical Methods (Broadview Press, 2010)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Christopher Daly Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Teaching assistant(s) to be announced.

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