PHI-20021 - Knowledge and Reality
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 2024/25


Available as a Free Standing Elective






Barred Combinations


Description for 2024/25

Questions concerning knowledge and reality strike at the heart of the philosophical enterprise, as they are some of the most fundamental questions that have occurred to us as human beings. As such, epistemology (the study of knowledge) and metaphysics (the study of reality) are the two central areas of philosophy. This module gives an opportunity to study key contemporary debates that touch on the most fundamental questions about our world and what we can know about it. Informed by the latest scholarship, we will reflect on such questions as:
1) What is time?
2) What is causation?
3) What is knowledge, and how do we get it?
4) Can we define knowledge?
5) What is it to be an object?
Students will be able to critically assess these and other important philosophical topics, and encouraged to develop their own personal views.

The course aims:
1) To give students a deeper grounding the two central areas of philosophy: metaphysics and epistemology
2) To develop core study skills, including writing and research, as well as developing some key employability skills

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

Intended Learning Outcomes

Analyse and critically assess key approaches in metaphysics and epistemology: 1,2
Explain some of the central debates in metaphysics and epistemology: 1,2
Develop and defend views regarding debates in metaphysics and epistemology: 1,2
Write about philosophical issues in metaphysics and epistemology with clarity and precision: 1,2
Summarise and analyse key readings from metaphysics and epistemology: 1,2

Study hours

10 hours attendance at lectures
10 hours attendance at seminars
40 hours study and preparation for seminars
45 hours study and preparation for reader report
45 hours study and preparation for essay

School Rules


Description of Module Assessment

1: Essay weighted 50%
1,000 word essay
Students will choose one question to answer from a list provided at the start of the semester. The essay will be on epistemology and submitted at the end of the semester.

2: Commentary weighted 50%
1,000 word reader report
A written exercise - students will be expected to provide a report on one article on metaphysics from the reading list. Students must reconstruct the argument of the article in their own words, and then critically assess the argument, drawing on their own original arguments and wider discussion in the literature. This will be submitted partway through the semester, with feedback used to aid work on essay assessment.