Theories of Knowledge - PHIL5001

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


What is knowledge? How do we arrive at knowledge? Why is knowledge more valuable than mere belief, or even true belief? Is there some level of justification that turns a belief into knowledge? Do we really have any knowledge at all? Such questions are central to philosophy. Indeed, the theory of knowledge—otherwise known as epistemology—is often taken to be one of the three main branches of philosophy, together with metaphysics and ethics.

In this module, we will investigate various epistemological questions and consider some of the answers that have been proposed by various theories of knowledge. In particular, we will consider possible responses to the sceptical claim that it is not possible to know anything. In doing so, we will consider competing theories of a priori knowledge, knowledge by perception, knowledge by introspection, and knowledge by testimony. In addition, we will look at the debate between foundationalism and coherentism, as well as the debate between internalists and externalists about justification. Lastly, we will discuss how knowledge is related to social power by considering the theory of testimonial injustice.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods:

Essay 1 (1,500 words) – 30%
Essay 2 (2,500 words) – 50%
Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%

Reassessment methods:
Reassessment Instrument: 100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List

Audi, R. (2011). Epistemology: A Contemporary Introduction to the Theory of Knowledge, 3rd edition, Routledge: New York.
Fricker, M. (2007). Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
Huemer, M. (2002). Epistemology: Contemporary Readings, Routledge: New York.
Nagel, J. (2014). Knowledge: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press: Oxford.
Sosa, E. (2008). Jaegwon Kim, Jeremy Fantl, and Matthew McGrath, Epistemology: An Anthology, Blackwell: Oxford.

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate a systematic understanding of the main positions in debates in epistemology, as well as an ability to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of these positions;
2 Engage critically with some of the central positions and controversies in epistemology through their study of the relevant arguments, and ultimately support a particular position;
3 Demonstrate the ability to engage in a close critical reading of some of the major texts in epistemology and refer to these to support their own position.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Demonstrate their skills in analysis and articulating a coherent position;
2 Demonstrate confidence and accuracy in oral and written argument, and an ability to use such arguments to support a coherent position;
3 Demonstrate their skills in critical analysis, argument, and supporting a particular position through their engagement with philosophical texts, through reading, writing, and discussion;
4 Show an ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own learning;
5 Demonstrate their ability to clarify complex ideas and arguments, to develop their own ideas and arguments, and to express them orally and in writing.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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