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Introduction to Philosophy

Course Times & Enrolment

Fridays from 29th September 2023 (Code PH013-103) Fridays from
29th September 2023 11:10am - 1:00pm • (10 classes)
LG47 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: James Mooney MA (Hons) MScR
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

What can we know? Does God exist? Do I have free will? How should I act? Does life have meaning? This course offers an introduction to the main areas of philosophy through discussion of some of the most interesting questions in each field.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Content of Course

  1. Introduction
    What is philosophy? What are its origins? Why do we do it?

  2. Epistemology
    What is knowledge? What can we know? How do we know things?

  3. Philosophy of Mind
    What am I? Am I my mind or my body? What ensures my survival over time?

  4. Philosophy of Religion
    Does God exist? What are the arguments for God’s existence? How can we account for evil in the world?

  5. Metaphysics
    Do I have free will? Are all my actions determined by factors outside my control? Am I ever responsible for anything I do?

  6. Moral Philosophy
    Should we be moral? Is right and wrong relative to culture? How do I know how to act?

  7. Applied Ethics
    Is abortion wrong? Is there a difference between killing and letting die? Do animals have rights?

  8. Political Philosophy
    Why do we live in societies? What rights do I have? What are my duties?

  9. Aesthetics
    What is beauty? Is beauty in the eye of the beholder? What is art?

  10. Existentialism
    Why are we here? Does life have meaning? How should I live?

Teaching method(s)

Combination of lectures and discussion.

Learning outcomes

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

  • Demonstrate an understanding of basic issues in philosophy, for example scepticism concerning knowledge;

  • Identify the positions of some philosophers on these issues;

  • Critically read examples of historical and contemporary philosophical texts;

  • Analyse and assess philosophical arguments and the concepts that they employ;

  • Convey ideas and arguments in a well-structured and coherent form.


Core Readings

Essential reading will be provided on a weekly basis, however, students would do well to avail themselves of a basic introductory text. The following are highly recommended:

  • Blackburn, S. 2001. Think. Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Nagel, T. 1987. What does it all mean? Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Warburton, N., 2012. Philosophy: the Basics, 5th ed., London: Routledge.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided on a weekly basis.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.