BA Philosophy and Religion / Course details

Year of entry: 2022

Course unit details:
20th Century Analytical Philosophy

Unit code PHIL20242
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit? No


What is analytic philosophy? What is its nature and what are its methods? In this course we will seek to answer these questions by examining key contributions from leading historical figures who shaped the evolution of the discipline.

We begin by discussing some of the insights and intellectual aspirations of the two founders of analytic philosophy, namely G.E. Moore and Bertrand Russell as they developed their logical, ontological and epistemological ideas in the late 19th and early 20th century.

We turn next to Ludwig Wittgenstein and Rudolf Carnap who took up the original ideas of Moore and Russell and transformed them in different ways in the 1910s and 20s. Against this backdrop we then explore the contributions of other influential figures publishing from the 1930s through to the end of the century, including Susan Stebbing, W.V. Quine, Ruth Barcan Marcus, Saul Kripke and David Lewis.

We conclude with a retrospective of analytic philosophy in the 20th century to better understand the prospects for the 21st. Some emphasis will be laid upon analytical philosophy’s use of symbolic logic as a tool of clarification, analysis and problem-solving.


The course aims to:

- provide an understanding of the nature and development of the analytic tradition in philosophy;

- provide historical background for some of the contemporary debates in the analytic tradition;

- introduce students to some of the key writings in the tradition;

- introduce students to some of the techniques and methods of analytic philosophy.

Learning outcomes

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

- familiarity with some of the major strands of philosophy in the analytic tradition;

- appreciation of (some of) the major issues discussed in this tradition;

- informed criticism of (some of) the most important positions taken on these issues;

- familiarity with the nature of (some of) the techniques and methods associated with the tradition as well as their scope and limits.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Group/team working
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); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

Bertrand Russell, 'The Philosophy of Logical Analysis', final chapter of Russell’s History of Western Philosophy (London: Allen & Unwin, 1946).

John Skorupski, English-Language Philosophy 1750-1945 (Oxford, 1993).

Anthony Kenny, A New History of Western Philosophy, Volume 4: Philosophy in the Modern World (Oxford, 2007)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Michael Crawford Unit coordinator

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