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Modern British Philosophy in the 20th and 21st Centuries (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

Mondays from 15th January 2024 (Code PH031-204) Mondays from
15th January 2024 6:30pm - 8:20pm • (10 classes)
G38 Paterson's Land, Holyrood Campus • Tutor: Stephen Watt MA (Hons) PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

Since the beginning of the 20th century, British philosophy has presented a rich variety of approaches to central questions such as the nature of ethics, how to run society, and what knowledge is and how we can achieve it. You will learn about these debates and how they have affected current philosophy through studying the lives and thoughts of key figures in its development.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Special Information

All readings will be provided by course teacher or be available from freely available online sources.

Content of Course

Students will address a range of themes through relevant texts, including: British idealism - R G Collingwood (1889-1943); logical positivism - A. J. Ayer (1910-1989); substantive ethical questions – Mary Midgley (1919-2018); alternatives to the mainstream analytic tradition – Gillian Rose (1947-95); feminist philosophy – Miranda Fricker (1966- ); and ethics, authenticity and self-expression – Sophie Grace Chappell (1964- ).

Teaching method(s)

Each session will combine lecture and teacher-led group discussion. You will be encouraged to critically engage with the course reading, introducing you to some of the key writings about philosophy. You will be encouraged to reflect on the texts through the lenses of your own thoughts and experiences. Formative feedback provided during class and on an essay plan will enhance your ability to understand the course topics.

Learning outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate a broad knowledge of some key ideas in British philosophy since the beginning of the 20th Century.
  2. Demonstrate an awareness of the diversity of modern philosophical thought and its development.
  3. Apply basic skills, techniques and practices associated with reading philosophical texts.
  4. Evaluate some central arguments and ideas of philosophy.


Core Readings

All reading extracts will be provided by course teacher or be available from freely available online sources including:

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:  

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:  


10 credit courses have one assessment. Normally, the assessment is a 2000 word essay, worth 100% of the total mark, submitted by week 12. To pass, students must achieve a minimum of 40%. There are a small number of exceptions to this model which are identified in the Studying for Credit Guide.

Studying for Credit

If you choose to study for credit you will need to allocate significant time outwith classes for coursework and assessment preparation. Credit points gained from this course can count towards the Certificate of Higher Education.


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.