PHI-20019 - Pursuit of the Good
Coordinator: Jonathan Head Room: CBA2.032 Tel: +44 1782 7 33515
Lecture Time: See Timetable...
Level: Level 5
Credits: 15
Study Hours: 150
School Office:

Programme/Approved Electives for 2023/24


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2023/24

The module presents an overview of some of the central perspectives in moral philosophy and their application to contemporary moral issues. Discussion will focus on contemporary issues in applied ethics, for example, the ethics of AI, the use of biomedical technology, and environmental ethics. We will study some of the key ethical arguments that have been proposed concerning these issues, and consider our own reflections on them too. In this way, students will be brought up-to-date on some of the most important and vibrant aspects of recent moral philosophy and will further be enabled to approach such questions themselves in a philosophically reflective manner. Through various activities, students will be helped to communicate ideas and perspectives effectively, as well as to discuss difficult questions sensitively with others.

The module aims:
(a) to provide a solid grounding in some of the most important approaches to moral questions in the history of philosophical thought;
(b) to offer students a clear presentation of contemporary ethical issues that can be addressed by these approaches and a good grasp of the differences between ethical schools of thought;
(c) to enable students to approach moral questions through different ethical conceptual frameworks.

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

Know and critically understand the development of significant moral theories in the history of philosophy: 1,2
Apply different ethical conceptual frameworks and principles to contemporary moral problems by using the standard philosophical techniques of critical analysis and moral evaluation: 1,2
Apply the moral theories studied to identify, present and interpret arguments formulated in the literature and beyond the context of specialised literature in order to evaluate them: 1,2
Communicate information, problems, solutions and critical ideas effectively: 1,2
Use texts of primary literature in order to identify key concepts, questions, ideas and arguments, and to evaluate on their basis arguments in the secondary literature: 1,2
Conduct independent research in order to identify, locate, and retrieve appropriate papers and electronic materials to supplement module reading lists, as well as to develop existing hermeneutic and evaluative skills: 1,2
Know and critically understand the principles of significant moral theories in the history of philosophy by comparing and contrasting their responses to key questions and by assessing their methods of enquiry: 1,2

Study hours

Active Learning:
15 hours attendance at lectures
5 hours attendance at seminars
45 hours independent preparation for the seminars, including reading key sources
Independent Study:
40 hours preparation for the podcast assessment, including guided online training
45 hours preparation for the essay

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
1,500 word essay
Students will write a critical analysis, applying a particular moral approach to a contemporary ethical issue (covered in the second half of the module) and evaluating its arguments. Details regarding the specific approaches and topics that can be chosen will be included in the module's KLE space.

2: Group Project weighted 50%
Podcast discussion
Students will be divided into small groups (approx. 3-4) and asked to produce a podcast discussion (plus transcript) of around 8-10 minutes on a particular contemporary moral issue (covered in the first half of the semester) from a philosophical perspective. The podcast discussion will be uploaded onto OneDrive and transcripts will be uploaded by students to the KLE.