BASS Sociology and Criminology

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Introduction to Metaphysics and Epistemology

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL10622
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course concerns key topics in the theory of knowledge (or epistemology, as it is known) and in metaphysics (the study of reality at its most general).

The topics in epistemology concern such questions as: What is knowledge? What is it to perceive something? Can we know anything through the use of reason alone? What is it for our beliefs to be justified? What is the scope of our knowledge?

The topics in metaphysics concern such questions as: What is it for one event to cause another? What is it to be a person? What makes you now the same person as you were ten years ago? What is time? Does it flow? Do we have free will? What is it for something to be possible?


The course aims to:

- To introduce some of the central problems of metaphysics and epistemology
- To introduce some of the central positions, theories, and arguments in metaphysics and epistemology
- To introduce some of the central modal, epistemic and logical concepts in metaphysics and epistemology, such as: necessity, possibility, contingency, a priori knowledge, a posteriori knowledge, necessary and sufficient conditions, etc.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

- Explain some of the central problems of metaphysics and epistemology
- Understand and apply key concepts in the critical analysis of these problems and more widely
- Explain and critically assess some of the central theories and approaches to metaphysical and epistemological problems and understand their implications for wider issues
- Construct and critically analyse arguments and philosophical and other theoretical positions that bear on metaphysical and epistemological issues
- Interpret and evaluate complex philosophical texts

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
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Other 50%
Written assignment (inc essay) 50%

Students will complete two written assignments of 1500 words both worth 50%

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

Earl Conee and Theodore Sider, Riddles of Existence. A Guided Tour of Metaphysics
Duncan Pritchard (2006) What is this thing called knowledge? Routledge

Study hours

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

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
James Andow Unit coordinator

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