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Moral Philosophy (10 credit points)

Course Times & Enrolment

This course is currently unavailable.

Course Summary

A historical survey of the key moral thinkers and their theories, from the ancient Greeks to the present day. Extracts from classic texts will be studied, and placed in their historical and philosophical contexts.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous knowledge required.

Content of Course

1. Introduction - what is moral theory, and how did it begin?

2. Virtue ethics - Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.

3. Egoism - Hobbes’ Leviathan.

4. Egoism – Hume’s response.

5. Utilitarianism – Bentham and Mill

6. Deontology – Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals.

7. Intuitionism – Ross: The Right and the Good.

8. Justice – Rawls.

9. Rights – Nozick: Anarchy State and Utopia.

10. Relativism.

Teaching method(s)

Lecture based with class discussion.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • Read and critically evaluate a philosopher’s argument;

  • Explain the central elements in a range of moral theoretical positions;

  • Identify the historical and philosophical significance of these positions.


Core Readings


  • Singer, P., ed., 1993. A Companion to Ethics. Oxford: Blackwell.


  • Rachels, J., 2007. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. 5th ed. Boston; London: McGraw Hill.

  • Benn, P., 2002. Ethics. London: Routledge.

Class Handouts

Handouts will be made available on a weekly basis.


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.