BASS Sociology and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2023

Course unit details:
Metaethics and Religious Language

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL30842
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course will introduce and engage with contemporary work on ethical and religious language and psychology. The questions that we will address include: Are ethical or religious commitments essentially motivational? Does religious faith require belief? Do any ethical properties or facts exist? Does ethical or religious thinking make useful fiction, even if it is untrue?


40 PHIL credits at Level 2


The unit aims to:

  • Help students to engage with some of the central problems in metaethics and understand interconnections between questions about ethical and religious language;
  • Enhance students' power of critical analysis, reasoning and independent thought, and their ability to bring those powers to bear on important philosophical issues;
  • Improve students' ability to understand, articulate and evaluate distinctions and arguments;
  • Familiarise students with some of the most interesting and provocative texts in contemporary work on philosophy of psychology.

Learning outcomes

Students should be able to:

  • Show a detailed knowledge and understanding of range of core issues in contemporary metaethics and topics on religious langauge.
  • Demonstrate a grasp of complex arguments, distinctions and theories, and express this understanding through presentations and on paper.
  • Demonstrate improved transferrable critical and evaluative skills, both verbally and in writing.

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial every week.

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

Alexander Miller Contemporary Metaethics: An Introduction 2nd ed (Polity Press, 2013)

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Michael Scott Unit coordinator

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