PHI-20018 - Philosophy of Mind
Coordinator: James Tartaglia Room: CBB 2.014 Tel: +44 1782 7 34315
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

This module will introduce students to one of the most fundamental problems of philosophy, which many would argue is the most fundamental philosophical problem of all: the problem of how we are to understand the connection between the subjective mind (thoughts, feelings, emotions) and the objective world (the human body, and especially, the brain). This is a contemporary course, and so students will be introduced to the five main positions on the mind-brain connection that are held in the present day. Students will then be introduced to five of the most important problems that arise for all theories of mind, namely problems concerning mental causation, subjectivity, consciousness, intentionality and externalism, and will then revisit the five positions they were introduced to in the first part of the course in light of these problems. By the end of this module, students will have a thorough understanding of the mind-body problem as it is understood at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and will have been encouraged to develop their own opinion about the nature of mind.
There will be ten topic-based lectures, one per week, with an extra lecture every fortnight which will sometimes be used in part for group activities, such as debates, quizzes, and revision exercises. Small group seminars will be held every fortnight, which will incorporate small group presentations for the development of oral presentation and team-work skills, all of which are either formatively self- or peer-assessed. The seminars will provide the basis for portfolio assignments. Assessment format: 50% portfolio, 50% unseen exam (2 hours).

The aim of the module is to introduce and assess various theories of the relation between mind and body. Students will then learn about the main areas of contemporary debate, concerning problems for dualist, materialist, idealist and other theories of mind.

Talis Aspire Reading List
Any reading lists will be provided by the start of the course.

Intended Learning Outcomes

Know and critically understand the mind/body problem, and the major theories of mind put forward as a solution to this problem: 1,2
Know the main methods of enquiry in the philosophy of mind, and the limits of knowledge in the subject: 1,2
Communicate ideas and arguments about the philosophy of mind effectively in writing in a variety of formats, as appropriate to both specialist and non-specialist audiences: 1,2
Identify, present and interpret opposing arguments in order to evaluate them and assess their persuasiveness. Critically evaluate different metaphysical and epistemological positions: 1,2
Plan a programme of study, and organise time effectively to enact this programme: 1,2
Apply underlying concepts and principles beyond first context. Use a range of established techniques for critical analysis: 1,2
Independently develop their own
views on the connection between mind and brain and defend them coherently and persuasively in the context of informed debate with peers and Tutors: 1,2
Know the main methods of inquiry employed by contemporary philosophers. Critically understand well-established theories of mind, their development according to principles of philosophical reasoning, and their influence on analyses and interpretations of the various competing theories of mind: 1,2

Study hours

15 1-hour lectures, 5 1-hour tutorials, 100 hours exam preparation, and 30 hours private study.

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
Essay (1000 words max.)
An essay, chosen from a list of 5 questions based on the material covered at this point in the module (limit 1000 words).

2: Essay weighted 50%
Essay (1000 words max.)
An essay, chosen from a list of 5 questions based on the material covered in the second half of the module.