Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Philosophy and English Language and Linguistics - BA (Hons)

UCAS code VQ5H

2018

Studying Philosophy and English Language and Linguistics enables you to engage with the world’s major philosophies and thinkers while also gaining an understanding of how language itself works.

2018

Overview

What is philosophy? Why is it important? Is it relevant? As a student of Philosophy at Kent, you do not so much learn about philosophy as learn to do it yourself. This includes not only studying major philosophies and philosophers, but also contributing your own ideas to an ongoing dialogue. You develop the ability to connect the most abstract ideas to the most concrete things in our experience.

There is an active research culture in the Department of Philosophy at Kent, with internationally recognised experts whose interests range from philosophers such as Hegel, Kant and Wittgenstein to topics such as the philosophy of the mind, ethics, aesthetics, logic, political philosophy, metaphysics and artificial intelligence.

Within the English Language and Linguistics element of your degree, you explore the structure of language and its relationship with culture, society and the mind. A broad choice of theoretical topics encompasses such areas as syntax, phonetics and phonology, morphology, sociolinguistics, language acquisition, semantics, pragmatics, literary stylistics and critical and cultural theory; modules in language learning and teaching, creative and media writing, and language and media have a more vocational focus.

This degree programme is an ideal combination for anyone wanting to appreciate the breadth and complexities of ideas and the language in which they are expressed.

Independent rankings

Philosophy at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 90% of our Philosophy students were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their course.

Linguistics at Kent was ranked 19th in The Times Good University Guide 2017. For graduate prospects, it was ranked 5th in The Times Good University Guide 2017.

Graduates of both our Philosophy and our Linguistics courses in 2015 were the most successful in their subjects in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

The module will begin by offering a basic introduction to the description of speech sounds, with emphasis on those used in English and detailed descriptions first of consonants, and then of vowels. The gaps between sound and orthography will be highlighted as the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) symbols are learned. The course will then move from phonetics (the study of speech sounds) to phonology (the study of the sound systems in language), focusing on the phonotactics (rules of co-occurrence) and general phonological rules of English. Students will use this knowledge to explore and describe different accents of English. From phonology, the module moves to morphology (the study of word-structure), highlighting the differences between derivational and inflectional morphology, and introducing analytical concepts such as the morpheme and allomorphy, and critically evaluating descriptive models such as word and paradigm, item-and-process and item-and-arrangement grammars.

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This module introduces linguistic approaches to the study of language structure, language meaning and communication. For language structure, the module provides an overview of the major grammatical properties of English (e.g. lexical classes, grammatical functions, phrase and sentence structure), and provides students with analytical tools for understanding and constructing arguments about linguistic structure (e.g. morpho-syntactic tests, constituency tests). For meaning, the module introduces students to lexical semantics (the meanings of words and characteristics of word classes) and sentential semantics (how the meanings of words and phrases combine to create propositional meaning). In addition, the module covers introductory topics in pragmatics, focusing on context dependence and the differences between semantic and pragmatic meaning. . The relationships among related but distinct notions such as grammar, inference, and communication are discussed throughout. The module is particularly useful for students who are studying linguistics, psychology, anthropology, language(s), or literature, as it provides them with analytical skills for understanding language and language-related behaviour

This module introduces linguistic approaches to the study of language structure, language meaning and communication. For language structure, the module provides an overview of the major grammatical properties of English (e.g. lexical classes, grammatical functions, phrase and sentence structure), and provides students with analytical tools for understanding and constructing arguments about linguistic structure (e.g. morpho-syntactic tests, constituency tests). For meaning, the module introduces students to lexical semantics (the meanings of words and characteristics of word classes) and sentential semantics (how the meanings of words and phrases combine to create propositional meaning). In addition, the module covers introductory topics in pragmatics, focusing on context dependence and the differences between semantic and pragmatic meaning. . The relationships among related but distinct notions such as grammar, inference, and communication are discussed throughout. The module is particularly useful for students who are studying linguistics, psychology, anthropology, language(s), or literature, as it provides them with analytical skills for understanding language and language-related behaviour

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Can I know that I am not dreaming? Am I the same person I was when I was ten years old? Do I have an immaterial mind or immortal soul? Am I a mere machine or do I have a free will? What are the fundamental properties of the world? Does God exist? This module is meant to be an introduction to these and other fundamental problems of philosophy. The module begins with an examination of some themes in Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, and moves on to discuss the arguments of other classical philosophers, such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and also of contemporary thinkers. Among the themes addressed are: the nature of knowledge, scepticism, personal identity, the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, primary and secondary qualities, causation, induction, God.

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Students studying on this module will be introduced to a number of big questions in ethics. The questions may include the following: What makes a life good? Is it happiness? Or is it something else? Another big question is: What makes actions right or wrong? Is it God demanding or forbidding them? Or are actions perhaps right to the extent that they serve to make lives better off, and wrong to the extent that they make lives worse off? Some philosophers have thought so. Others wonder: What if I steal money from someone so rich that my act in no way makes her life go any worse. Might it still be the case that I have acted wrongly—even if I haven't made anyone worse off? A third bit question is this: What's the status of morality? Is it, for example, the case that what’s right for me might be wrong for you? Does it make any sense at all to talk about moral claims being true or false, even relative to moral communities? Might moral judgements be nothing but expressions of sentiments? Throughout the course, students will be examining these and similar questions from the point of view of a variety of philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume.

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Since Plato's Dialogues, it has been part of philosophical enquiry to consider philosophical questions using logic and common sense alone. This module aims to train students to continue in that tradition. In the first part students will be introduced to basic themes in introductory logic and critical thinking. In the second part students will be presented with a problem each week in the form of a short argument, question, or philosophical puzzle and will be asked to think about it without consulting the literature. The problem, and students’ responses to it, will then form the basis of a structured discussion.

By the end of the module, students (a) will have acquired a basic logical vocabulary and techniques for the evaluation of arguments; (b) will have practised applying these techniques to selected philosophical topics; and (c) will have acquired the ability to look at new claims or problems and to apply their newly acquired argumentative and critical skills in order to generate philosophical discussions of them.It will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars in the first half of the term, and seminars only in the second half of the term.

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What do philosophers do? How do they think? What do they typically think about? How do philosophers write? What sorts of writing are acceptable in philosophy? How should you write? How should philosophy best be read in order to be understood and assessed?'

In this module we will introduce you to some of the most interesting questions in philosophy, both from its history and from current debates. As we do this we will show you how to think, read and write as a philosopher.

Some of the questions we will discuss this year include: 'Why is Hume's fork so important in the history of philosophy?’, 'What is the difference between evaluative and descriptive judgements in aesthetics?’ and ‘What is the difference between ‘is’ and ‘ought’?’ We will also think about questions of more general philosophical import, such as: ‘What it is to presuppose something?’, ‘What is it to argue in a vicious circle?’, and ‘What does a philosophical definition look like?’

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Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

In this module, students develop a range of skills which will enable them to undertake the narratological and linguistic analysis of media texts (the term 'text' is used broadly here, and will encompass both written and oral sources) taken from a number of sources, including newspapers, magazines and online discourses. Areas covered include: genre theory, register, narrative theory, multimodality, dialogism and discourse analysis. Also discussed are complex and challenging ideas around the notion of words, signs, and grammar in context. Students will develop the ability to approach the language of the media critically and to read the press perceptively so as to understand the importance of the media in a democratic society.

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In this module, students continue to develop and explore the themes introduced in LL536 English Language in the Media 1. Here, the focus is on semiotics as applied in the linguistic analysis of a wide range of media discourse types, but with particular emphasis on advertising. Areas covered include: semiotics, the work of Saussure, the British press, multimodality, the new media and social networking.. Also discussed are complex and challenging ideas around the notion of words, signs, and grammar in context. Students will further develop the ability to approach the language of the media critically and to read the press perceptively so as to understand the acute importance of the media in a democratic society.

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In this module students will be given the opportunity to gain experience in guided research, contributing to projects run by members of ELL staff, under their supervision.

The research project will normally be relevant to a module that the student has taken or is currently taking.

At the beginning of the term, students will meet with the module convenor, who will recommend a project that is suitable to their interests. The assigned work may be affiliated to an on-going departmental research project documenting linguistic varieties. Alternatively, other guided research opportunities may be offered by members of staff carrying out investigations within their individual research interests.

During the course of this module, students will have to complete research tasks set by their supervisor. Students will meet with the supervisor at agreed intervals, in order to set a timetable for the completion of each task. Through these meetings, they will also receive advice and feedback on the progress of their research. Students will keep a log on the research process, which will be monitored by the supervisor. After having successfully completed the set research tasks, students will also write a report (1,500 words) on the conducted research, demonstrating both their general understanding of the research process and their specific understanding of the project and the area of linguistic analysis that it belongs to.

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This module examines the principles on which contemporary second language teaching methods are founded. It will analyse first and second language acquisition theories in the light of current developments in language learning and teaching theories. Students will analyse a range of language teaching methods taking into account the ways in which they reflect acquisition theory. The module will give students the opportunity to compare L2 teaching methods from the perspective of: form, function and meaning and student and teacher roles. This will allow students to evaluate the effectiveness of specific language teaching methods. Students will have the opportunity to discuss the ways in which context directly influences the choice and implementation of L2 teaching methods, and will be able to follow personal interests by investigating language teaching methods in context.

Although the focus is primarily on learning and teaching English, the language acquisition theories and L2 teaching methods examined in this module may also apply to the teaching and learning of any language.

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This course will start by examining the topic of language acquisition, demarcating the domains for linguistic inquiry. It will challenge everyday assumptions about the way in which children acquire language and introduce key theoretical issues, always assessing the validity of each theory on the basis of empirical evidence. The course will examine the biological basis of language and its localisation and lateralisation, using evidence from both typical and atypical populations. It will evaluate the role of input in language acquisition and the extent to which this facilitates linguistic development. All these issues will be set against an understanding of the normal stages of language acquisition, essentially mapping out the linguistic milestones reached by typically developing children to the age of four. An understanding of the interaction between the components involved (phonology, morphology, semantics, rudimentary structure, pragmatics) will provide the empirical backdrop to assess the efficacy of theoretical models introduced. The course will end, having laid the foundations for students to undertake a higher level of research in this area.

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This module deals with the linguistic study of speech. It covers how speech sounds are produced and perceived and what their acoustic characteristics are. Emphasis will be placed on the sound system of English (including dialectal variation) but basics of sound systems across the world's languages will also be briefly covered and contrasted with English. Finally, the course will cover the differences between the traditional "static" view of speech sounds as articulatory postures and the organisation of running speech.

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This module will introduce the students to the study of meaning at the levels of semantics and pragmatics. The discussed topics will range from the study of word meaning to the study of sentence meaning and utterance (contextualised) meaning. The module will introduce significant notions and theories for the field of semantics and pragmatics, such as theories of concepts, Truth Conditions, the Gricean theory of conversational implicatures, Speech Act theory, and Politeness theory. The students will have the opportunity to reflect upon real data and analyse the processes of conveying and understanding meaning at the semantics/pragmatics interface.

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Weeks 1-4 will explore the reasons for the initial exclusion of extralinguistic (i.e. social) data from linguistic theory, and the limitations of traditional dialectology, before exploring some early variationist studies by Trudgill (Norwich) and Labov (Martha's Vineyard; New York) and examining their theoretical bases. Weeks 6-7 will examine the advances brought about by network studies (e.g. Lesley Milroy in Belfast), and the extent to which they offer a challenge to traditional assumptions in sociolinguistic methodology, an issue to which we return in week 8, which critically evaluates the so-called sociolinguistic gender pattern. Weeks 10-12 focus more specifically on issues of change, looking initially at neogrammarian theories and then the claims of Trudgill, James Milroy and others that certain kinds of change are predictable in specific types of social arrangement.

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This module is concerned with the stylistic analysis of literature and is based on the premise that the decision to study literature is also a decision to study the expressive mechanics of language (and vice versa). Attention is given to all three main genres (poetry, prose fiction and drama); thus the module is divided into three blocks according to the kind of text analysed. The first section examines poetry and considers topics such as patterns of lexis, phonetic and metrical organisation and the relationship to meaning; the second looks at fiction through patterns of style variation, inferencing and speech thought presentation; the third examines drama and considers topics such as the patterns in turn-taking and their relationship to the roles and functions of characters, speech act analysis and styles of politeness behaviour. At all stages of the module, the social and cultural context of the works studies will be an important consideration.

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This course will introduce students to one aspect of formal linguistics, specifically syntactic theory. Syntax will be defined as one aspect of a person’s grammar, to be distinguished from the lexicon, semantics, morphology, and phonology. Focusing on the structure of sentences, the course will examine the principles according to which phrases and structures are formed, as well as speakers’ knowledge about the structural well-formedness of the sentences they hear and produce. Students will gradually learn to draw syntactic trees that can represent the syntactic operations that they will be introduced to. They will learn to conduct syntactic tests on English and cross-linguistic data, thereby becoming versed with the empirical method. The course will combine both minimalist and earlier government and binding work. We will examine the competence/performance distinction, the notion of I-language, poverty of the stimulus arguments, levels of representation, phrase-structure rules, constituency tests as a means for testing phrase structure, case theory, theta theory, binding and movement.

Subject to change pending faculty approval

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This course will equip students with the necessary training in a broad range of research skills, with the express aim of preparing them for their final-year dissertation. Key topics will include hypothesis formation; falsifiability; ethical procedures; experimental versus naturalistic settings; questionnaire designs for sub-disciplines within linguistics; corpus research; introduction to quantitative and qualitative methods; conducting and presenting descriptive statistics; formal theory-based and applied methodologies; case study research; empirical validity and reliability issues.

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This course is an introduction to morphology and to the practice of morphological analysis. By focusing on a range of phenomena, including those falling under inflection, derivation, and compounding (both in English and in other languages), the course helps students develop tools for pattern observation in data, description and analysis of word structure, and hypothesis testing. Students will also gain an understanding of the role of morphology in the grammar and how it relates to other components, such as phonology, syntax and semantics.

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Language is a wonderful thing. Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally don't have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? How is it that learning a second language can be so frustrating and time consuming, whereas we learn our first language with no trouble at all? The questions keep coming. In this module we shall try to find some answers.

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This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

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The present module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. That said, the relevant variations will be constrained by considerations ensuring that one cohort will not be disadvantaged compared to the next, and are likely to consistently include some sub-set of the following:

• Authoritarianism

• Behavioural economics

• Collective action

• Federal and non-federal unions

• Game theory

• Liberalism, illiberalism, and paternalism

• Markets and trade

• Money and finance

• Philosophy of Power

• Property

• Public choice

• Rational choice

• States and corporations

• Terrorism

• Theocracy

• Voting

• Work and capital

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

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William James (1842-1910) has arguably had a profound impact in the shaping of three contemporary disciplines: philosophy, psychology and the study of religion. This course aims to examine the life and work of William James in depth. It will examine the life of William James and the James family and show how this relates to his work. The course will examine his key texts: Principles of Psychology (1890), The Will to Believe (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and his studies of pragmatism, including Pragmatism (1907), The Pluralistic Universe (1909) and The Meaning of Truth (1909). It will also explore his long term and frustrated attempt to set up a scientific study of psychical phenomena.

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This course brings together a range of theories of love from the history of philosophy and from various traditions, including analytical philosophy, feminism, pragmatism and continental thought. It will explore questions of love, beauty and friendship in Plato, religious models in Aquinas, ars erotica in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophies of love, Romantic traditions of love, the logic of love in Peirce and James, feminist politics of love and maternity, and cognitive models of love. The course will also examine a range of analytical questions of love, including debates about the different types of love (eros, agape and philia), the problems of talking about love in philosophical language, distinctions between self-love and relational love, the relation of love to literature and poetry, love as embodied instinct and mental idea, the relation between love and sex, and connections between love, compassion and caring. The aim of the course is to combine a philosophical history of love with critical analytical skills to think about love as a dynamic feature of human relationships.

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This module has an ambitious but hopefully not ridiculous goal: to teach you something about how to live well. It will do so by introducing you to some of the most prominent philosophical traditions that have tried to offer practical advice on how to live, such as that of the Stoics and the Epicureans, but also the religiously inspired traditions of Buddhists, Confucians and Jesuit philosophers.* Of course, you can't learn to live well simply by reading a few books—not even really good ones. That’s why, as part of the module, you’ll also spend three days living in accordance with one of the traditions covered, and then reporting back your experience to the rest of the class, either through a traditional presentation, or by making a short video about your experience. You might not come out a Stoic sage at the other end of this module (although who knows?), but you’ll have learned quite a few things about what some very interesting people thought about how to live well, some of which you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily life.

* Topics covered will likely vary from year to year. The variations will be guided by the expertise of whichever person happens to be convening the module any given year, and by student feedback on previous years.

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This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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We typically value justified belief more than simple belief, for very good reasons: a justified belief is more likely to be true than a randomly selected one. Indeed, we value knowledge even more than justified belief, since, arguably, a belief that qualifies as knowledge is true. But when is a belief justified? And what is knowledge? Is any of our beliefs justified? Do we know anything at all? Do we know that it's 8 o’ clock if at 8 o’ clock we see a broken watch indicating 8 o’ clock? Do we know that our cat is sleeping on the sofa, if we don’t know that we’re not brains in a vat? This module investigates these and other epistemological questions, mostly by looking at some deeply puzzling sceptical arguments, some of which areas old as Philosophy is, and all of which have sprung very lively debates in the recent philosophical literature.

This module is designed to introduce students to some key philosophical notions – such as belief, justification and knowledge – and to some of the most exciting and interesting literature on the subject. The module begins with a brief overview of the literature on the analysis of knowledge – this will introduce students to the main philosophical approaches to justification and knowledge: internalism and externalism. The module will then move on to consider two influential forms of Skepticism: Pyrronian skepticism and Cartesian skepticism. Students will be introduced to the main views on the structure of justification – foundationalism, coherentism and entitlement approaches – as well as to the main semantic accounts of 'know’ – contextualism, dogmatism and relevant alternatives/tracking theories. Some epistemic principles, such as the so-called KK principle, will be introduced via the presentation of epistemic paradoxes, such as the Surprise Examination Paradox.

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We often make claims about the world, whether in Ethics, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, History or Science. These claims might be thought to involve a correspondence between how we think about the world and how the world 'really is'. This course aims to examine questions of realism and anti-realism: does the world outrun our ability to talk about it? Do some ways of talking about the world capture how the world really is? Can we even make sense of there being a world independent of how we think about it?

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What makes it the case that certain actions, such as stealing and sharing, have ethical value? Are ethical values such as goodness and badness, compassion and cruelty, mind-independent ethical properties, properties that exist no matter what anyone thinks, desires, aims at and the like? Or are there no such ethical properties at all and when we call something good we are just expressing our emotions and feelings about a nonethical world? Are there any other positions available?

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the most exciting and interesting philosophical literature in recent years, which brings together ethics and metaphysics with a little epistemology and philosophy of language. The first half of this course will examine (what are often called) "metaethical" questions such as those above. We will then move on to discuss debates concerning moral psychology and motivation. When one says 'charity-giving is good' is it a matter of necessity that one will be motivated to some extent to give to charity? Or is it possible for one to make such a judgement and have no motivation at all (and for such a judgement to count as a legitimate moral judgement)? At the end we will see how these questions concerning psychology are integral to the earlier debates of metaphysics. Throughout, we will be examining these questions and issues by looking at work by authors from the start of the twentieth century (e.g. G. E. Moore) and by more recent writers (e.g. Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, J. L. Mackie, John McDowell and Michael Smith).

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This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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Please note: all Module Handbook information is subject to change pending faculty approval.

Wittgenstein is widely thought to have been the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. This module will concentrate in depth on some of Wittgenstein’s work by focusing on selected passages of his writings. The actual passages or texts focused on from year to year may vary.

Wittgenstein

Julia Tanney’s interest in Wittgenstein began as an undergraduate when she was introduced to the ideas of Wittgenstein through the teachings of Philippa Foot, David Pears, and Rogers Albritton, and, as a graduate student, of Crispin Wright. She has taught the Philosophical Investigations for over 20 years in England and in France. She has produced several articles, including “Real Rules”, “Reason-Explanation and the Contents of the Mind”, “On the Conceptual, Psychological, and Moral Status of Zombies, Swamp-Beings, and other ‘Behaviorally Indistinguishable’ Creatures”, and “Self-Knowledge, Normativity, and Construction”, reprinted in Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012) which bring to bear Wittgenstein’s later philosophy on today’s theorizing in the philosophy of mind and action. This module uses the virtual world of Second Life to bring Wittgenstein’s primitive language games to life and to help students reflect on questions such as what it is to understand, think, intend, act for reasons, and to mean what we say.

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This module studies some central questions in philosophy of religion, drawing on topics in metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. It begins by studying and critically assessing three of the 'classical' arguments for the existence of God—the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the argument from design —which consider respectively whether reason, science or experience can show us that God exists. It goes on to consider the relationship between religion and morality, examining Kant’s moral argument, which appears to support a case for the existence of God, and Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma, which appears to tell against it. Finally, it considers some central topics in religious epistemology, language and philosophy of mind, including: miracles, the nature of religious experience, religious language and personal identity. One underlying question the module considers is whether the above arguments and topics could be used to support or tell against an argument for the overall rationality of religious belief.

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The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of science. Texts to be studied will be drawn from a list which includes major works by philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Salmon, etc. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Themes to be studied will include: the nature of scientific theory change, the status of scientific claims, the methodology of scientific reasoning, the prospects for automating scientific reasoning.

The course will cover a range of topics such as:

Inductivism versus falsificationism

Research Programmes

Incommensurability

Realism

Instrumentalism

Probabilistic Reasoning

Causal Reasoning

Mathematical Reasoning

Confirmation

Explanation

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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What is art? What is an artwork? Do all types and examples of (what are traditionally classed as) artworks have identifying features in common? If so, what are they? Or, are there such interesting differences between works of literature, pieces of sculpture and the like, that searching for a definition of art is a futile task and this type of question misguided? Do avant-garde works count as art? Can anything count as art, such as food, if it’s presented in the right way or made with the right sort of intention? What does all of this tell us about the nature of definition generally?

These are some of the questions that we will explore at the start of this course. After that we will consider other issues and questions. What is the relation of art to beauty and other aesthetic qualities? What is it for a performance to be ‘authentic’ and is this sort of performance to be privileged in any way? Why is rock music such a part of our lives? Is there anything aesthetically wrong with a forgery? What is the nature of aesthetic experience and of our emotional responses to art? Why do we care so much about the fate of fictional characters? Is there any difference between pornography and erotica? Are artists subject to a different moral code? And what on earth is the point of public art? What is public art?

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How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

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30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a benevolent charity, or an unelected, unaccountable group wielding enormous political power?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular case studies, such as the recent debate over the showing of an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords, and the West's failure to intervene in Rwanda.

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30

Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? What distinguishes different sorts of political violence? Ought the state to have a monopoly on political violence? Are there some methods that should never be used to further political goals? In this course, we will look at the various forms of political violence, and consider how political and legal theorists have tried to regulate violent interaction between states and within states. We will examine the conceptual difficulties that arise when postulating international laws, and consider the role of the United Nations as international mediator and law enforcer. We will also look at the rights of self-determination amongst sub-national groups, and at the obligations of the international community to intervene to prevent humanitarian abuses.

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30

The module will cover some of the major topics of the theory of reasoning, with a focus on presenting students with new and exciting research. The syllabus will vary from year to year. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and may involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

As an indication of the kind of topics covered, the following are three potential syllabi, one of which might operate in any particular year:

1. Probability and probabilistic reasoning. This syllabus will present the major interpretations of probability and their connection with the various kinds of probabilistic reasoning. Topics covered might include: the classical interpretation; the logical interpretation; the subjective interpretation; the frequency interpretation; the propensity interpretation; the objective Bayesian interpretation. The key text will be D.A.Gillies (2000): Philosophical theories of probability, Routledge.

2. Causality and causal reasoning. This syllabus will present the major theories of causality, including difference-making theories (probabilistic theories, counterfactual theories, agency theories), mechanistic theories (process theories, complex systems theories) and pluralist theories. It will go on to consider methods of causal reasoning in the sciences and the implications of such methods for the metaphysics of causality. In the absence of a comprehensive text, this syllabus will appeal to papers, especially those in the Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP 2009), and Causality in the Sciences (OUP 2011).

3. Invalid arguments. This syllabus will look in detail at methods of assessing the cogency of deductively invalid arguments. In particular it will present the methods of inductive logic for assessing the plausibility of arguments. It will provide an introduction to probabilistic logics and their semantics, as well as to methods of inference in probabilistic logics, with a focus on elementary methods that can be readily acquired by students with little prior training in logic and no prior knowledge of probability theory. In the absence of a text at a suitable level, this syllabus will be accompanied by a set of detailed lecture notes.

Convenor: Jon Williamson

Jon Williamson works on various topics connected with reasoning, inference and scientific method, including causal reasoning in the sciences, inductive reasoning, and the nature of probability. The aim of this module is to introduce students to cutting-edge research on topics such as these. Jon is editor of the gazette The Reasoner, co-director of the Centre for Reasoning, and author of books on reasoning such as Bayesian nets and causality (OUP 2005), In defence of objective Bayesianism (OUP 2010) and Probabilistic logics and probabilistic networks (Springer 2011).

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30

The curriculum is intended to introduce students to some of the key arguments and debates in contemporary continental political philosophy through the focussed reading and discussion of the works of a number of central thinkers (Charles Taylor, Iris Marion Young, Foucualt, Derrida, Butler) in this field. It is also the aim of this module to consider the works and ideas of philosophers that are often overlooked on undergraduate political philosophy courses e.g. feminist thinkers and Queer theorists.

The curriculum should not be regarded as written in stone but responsive to new publications and developments in this field of research and to events in the wider world.

Read more
30

This module concerns ideas of two of the most interesting of Western philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both thinkers developed ideas that transformed much of the intellectual landscape of twentieth century, and both wrote books that prove fruitful for successive generations. They wrote on many themes: ethics, religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Both take their starting point from those thinkers that came before, notably Kant and Hegel. However, they are interesting to compare because they have such different views on philosophical thought and various themes. In particular, some of Nietzsche’s thought is framed explicitly in opposition to Schopenhauer’s, with the former casting the latter as the great pessimist. An appreciation of their ideas is an important part of the education of many philosophy students. However, both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche can be hard writers to read and understand. This module is designed both to introduce some of their ideas and develop a student’s appreciation of them such that he or she can discuss them with confidence and critical insight.

The module will not cover all of the writings of either or both thinkers. Students will typically read selections from Schopenhauer’s masterwork The World as Will and Representation and then selections from a variety of Nietzsche’s works, or one work in full. These will be read on their own, with ideas from both thinkers compared. Modern writers and commentators will be read in addition to help reveal the importance of Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s ideas.

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30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as “normative ethics”. We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as ‘Do not lie’) which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this ‘ethical mess’ that we can discern. Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

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30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a ‘single-issue’, militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a ‘single-issue’ ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module begins by drawing attention to the diversity of feminist thought, highlighting three theoretical strands: liberal feminism, radical feminism and Marxist feminism. We go on to apply these strands of feminist thought to the following topics: First, we look at some topics in legal and political philosophy, including justice and the family; discrimination law and freedom of speech. Second, we look at some topics in applied ethics, including reproductive ethics and sexual ethics. Third, we look at some feminist perspectives in epistemology and metaphysics. We also discuss the underlying question of whether feminism discriminates against men, and whether the notion of ‘gender-inclusive’ feminism is a plausible one.

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30
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally.  You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a Year Abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year.  The Year Abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities.  Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme.  For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the Year Abroad.  The Year Abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and will not count towards your final degree classification.

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

Language is a wonderful thing. Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally don't have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? How is it that learning a second language can be so frustrating and time consuming, whereas we learn our first language with no trouble at all? The questions keep coming. In this module we shall try to find some answers.

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30

The module will begin with a consideration of what the term ‘English’ means, and of what other, potentially rival, languages have been spoken in the British Isles. It will then consider how successive waves of conquest shaped the sociolinguistic situation to one of di- or triglossia, with English one of a number of varieties used in a restricted set of socially determined domains. Using Haugen’s standardization model, we will examine the factors which led first to selection and later acceptance of English as the dominant variety, and consider the associated linguistic processes of codification and elaboration of function. Working with short texts from different time periods, the module will then show how and why grammatical changes occurred in Anglo-Saxon, Old and Middle English (e.g. loss of case marking, gender, weakening of the verbal paradigm) and their consequences for the modern language. We will also consider phonological changes (e.g. the Great English Vowel Shift) and their consequences for dialect differentiation. We will conclude by exploring ongoing change in contemporary English (notably koineization in major cities), and the likely consequences for future English in the British Isles.

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30

This module is aimed towards students who are considering a career in journalism, freelance writing, publishing and related fields, but will also be of great use to those with a general interest in the area of media and language studies. It enables students to put into practice theories and methods of discourse analysis by producing their own portfolio of journalism and media-related writing. The course functions as a useful and complementary 'sister module' to LL510 Creative Writing: A Stylistic Approach, but can be taken independently. A consideration of the impact of new media (‘multimodality’) on the field will form a substantial component of the module’s content. Students will carry out their own research, for example using Canterbury and its environs as their news area, collecting information, arranging and carrying out relevant interviews, and writing up projects. They will produce and submit a portfolio of original journalism in which they demonstrate their ability to use the English language and to structure their writing with the target audience in mind. Accompanying this, students will submit a critical commentary in which they will reflect on how an understanding of relevant discourse, stylistic and narratological theory has impacted on their writing. The module will be structured along both theoretical and practical lines, with 2-hour workshops based on ‘input’, analysis and practice.

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15

During this course, students will focus on a core set of linguistic case studies, which will equip students with the ability to:

• assess the extent to which linguistic capacities interact with psychological ones;

• recognise the relevance of the distinction between developmental and acquired disorders;

• critically analyse evidence for/against linguistic principles being operative in child grammars;

• distinguish between language delay and language deviance with regard to developmental disorders;

• understand the results of social, cognitive and linguistic tests against which subjects' capabilities are measured.

Main themes will be picked from a variety of topics each year, from the following selection: Levels of Representation; Interaction between 'modules’; British Sign Language; Vocabulary and Syntax in the Aphasias; Morpho-syntactic abilities in SLI, complex syntax in Williams Syndrome, Down Syndrome and Autism, Linguistic savants; Pragmatic knowledge in these disorders; Bi-Lingualism.

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15

This module will focus on extending students’ critical understanding of pragmatic meaning. Central areas of linguistic pragmatics, such as conversational implicature, maxims of conversation, and principles of politeness and speech acts are outlined, discussed and evaluated critically. The module also explores controversies over the universality of the aforementioned theories, looking more closely at how human interaction is based on different cultural scripts and encouraging students to reflect upon and discuss the cultural influences which impact meaning in a range of intercultural communicative settings. Students will also have the opportunity to evaluate the efficacy of pragmatic theories on the basis of empirical investigations, familiarising themselves with the related methodologies and tools of analysis.

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15

This course builds on the student's knowledge of semantic phenomena, introducing formal approaches and the semantic metalanguage. Students will be provided with a small set of formal tools for the analysis of linguistic meaning. Students will learn to use these tools to probe into the nature of meaning in natural language and into different types of semantic phenomena. Specific topics that will be dealt with include predication, argumenthood, entailment, presupposition, definiteness and quantification.

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15

This course will focus on the structure of lexical items, the way in which these different lexical items are stored and the nature of the relation between them. Relevant theoretical work in the fields of psycholinguistics and language processing is outlined and discussed. And students will evaluate the efficacy of these theories on the basis of experimental investigations which they themselves will construct and conduct, for example word association experiments, lexicon decision tasks and parsing phenomena.

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30

This module deals with the linguistic study of speech. It covers how speech sounds are organised into sound systems cross-linguistically (often referred to as phonology). Emphasis will be placed on the sound system of English (including dialectal variation) but basics of sound systems across the world's languages will also be covered and contrasted with English for the module will focus on our understanding of phonological systems, their organisation and formal representation.

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15

This module deals with the linguistic study of prosody. It covers how prosody is produced and perceived and how it is encoded in the speech signal. Emphasis will be placed on the study of intonation but the module will also cover stress, phrasing, and speech rhythm; the material will cover both theoretical approaches to prosody and experimental studies that have led to the development of these theories.

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15

This module enables students to research in depth a linguistic topic. The dissertation topic may be chosen from a list provided by the supervisor, or selected by the student under guidance from the supervisor in an area reflecting the student’s interests and the supervisor’s research programme, interests and expertise. The topic will normally build upon a module that the student has undertaken in their second year. In this instance, the student must have gained a minimum of 65% on that module. In the rare case that the chosen topic builds upon an Autumn-term module in the student’s third year, acceptance is at the supervisor’s discretion; it is expected that the supervisor will be the convenor of that module and can reach a decision on the basis of their assessment of the student’s potential and the viability of the project.

Topics available for study are subject to the availability of an appropriate supervisor. In order to ensure adequate supervision, supervisors may not accept to supervise more than 3 dissertations in a given year.

With guidance from their supervisors, students will identify a research question and apply appropriate methodologies to data collection and their analysis. While the supervisor will be there to guide students, students will take responsibility for setting their own deadlines, working at a pace that suits them, with the aim of submitting a dissertation of 10,000 words early in the Summer term.

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30

This module is useful for anyone who may be considering teaching languages to second language/foreign language learners in the future, with particular emphasis on English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), although it provides a rich variety of transferable skills for any participant. It raises awareness of the English language, introduces lesson planning, classroom organisation, language teaching and feedback. There will be an opportunity to observe ESOL teaching and plan and prepare a lesson. Guidance will be given on writing a lesson plan, using resources and creating materials for foreign language learners The emphasis is on building strategies and techniques for foreign language teaching and understanding what makes good practice.

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15

This module is a useful taster for anyone who may be considering teaching English in the future, although it provides a rich variety of transferable skills for any participant. It builds on An Introduction to English Language Teaching 1 by increasing the range of skills and considering how to go about teaching specific groups of learners and assessing their needs. Guidance will be given on writing a syllabus, using resources and creating materials for learners. There will be an opportunity to deliver a short lesson.

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15

This course deals with gender and how it affects and is affected by language. Topics that will be covered include the following: biological sex and social gender; the different social roles of genders and how these are manifested in language structure and language practices (such as discourse and conversation strategies); the theories that have been put forward to explain these linguistic differences; linguistic stereotypes about gender; the language of children; queer speech.

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15

This module will provide the opportunity for third year undergraduates to gain valuable transferable skills by giving them some first-hand teaching experience in a primary or secondary school classroom. Each student will spend half a day each week for one term in a local school under the supervision of a specific teacher, who will act as a mentor, and decide the tasks and responsibilities of the student. The weekly university sessions and school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance.

They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers' tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

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30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a ‘single-issue’ ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module begins by drawing attention to the diversity of feminist thought, highlighting three theoretical strands: liberal feminism, radical feminism and Marxist feminism. We go on to apply these strands of feminist thought to the following topics: First, we look at some topics in legal and political philosophy, including justice and the family; discrimination law and freedom of speech. Second, we look at some topics in applied ethics, including reproductive ethics and sexual ethics. Third, we look at some feminist perspectives in epistemology and metaphysics. We also discuss the underlying question of whether feminism discriminates against men, and whether the notion of ‘gender-inclusive’ feminism is a plausible one.

Read more
30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as “normative ethics”. We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as ‘Do not lie’) which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this ‘ethical mess’ that we can discern. Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

Read more
30

This module concerns ideas of two of the most interesting of Western philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both thinkers developed ideas that transformed much of the intellectual landscape of twentieth century, and both wrote books that prove fruitful for successive generations. They wrote on many themes: ethics, religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Both take their starting point from those thinkers that came before, notably Kant and Hegel. However, they are interesting to compare because they have such different views on philosophical thought and various themes. In particular, some of Nietzsche’s thought is framed explicitly in opposition to Schopenhauer’s, with the former casting the latter as the great pessimist. An appreciation of their ideas is an important part of the education of many philosophy students. However, both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche can be hard writers to read and understand. This module is designed both to introduce some of their ideas and develop a student’s appreciation of them such that he or she can discuss them with confidence and critical insight.

The module will not cover all of the writings of either or both thinkers. Students will typically read selections from Schopenhauer’s masterwork The World as Will and Representation and then selections from a variety of Nietzsche’s works, or one work in full. These will be read on their own, with ideas from both thinkers compared. Modern writers and commentators will be read in addition to help reveal the importance of Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s ideas.

Read more
30

The curriculum is intended to introduce students to some of the key arguments and debates in contemporary continental political philosophy through the focussed reading and discussion of the works of a number of central thinkers (Charles Taylor, Iris Marion Young, Foucualt, Derrida, Butler) in this field. It is also the aim of this module to consider the works and ideas of philosophers that are often overlooked on undergraduate political philosophy courses e.g. feminist thinkers and Queer theorists.

The curriculum should not be regarded as written in stone but responsive to new publications and developments in this field of research and to events in the wider world.

Read more
30

The module will cover some of the major topics of the theory of reasoning, with a focus on presenting students with new and exciting research. The syllabus will vary from year to year. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and may involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

As an indication of the kind of topics covered, the following are three potential syllabi, one of which might operate in any particular year:

1. Probability and probabilistic reasoning. This syllabus will present the major interpretations of probability and their connection with the various kinds of probabilistic reasoning. Topics covered might include: the classical interpretation; the logical interpretation; the subjective interpretation; the frequency interpretation; the propensity interpretation; the objective Bayesian interpretation. The key text will be D.A.Gillies (2000): Philosophical theories of probability, Routledge.

2. Causality and causal reasoning. This syllabus will present the major theories of causality, including difference-making theories (probabilistic theories, counterfactual theories, agency theories), mechanistic theories (process theories, complex systems theories) and pluralist theories. It will go on to consider methods of causal reasoning in the sciences and the implications of such methods for the metaphysics of causality. In the absence of a comprehensive text, this syllabus will appeal to papers, especially those in the Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP 2009), and Causality in the Sciences (OUP 2011).

3. Invalid arguments. This syllabus will look in detail at methods of assessing the cogency of deductively invalid arguments. In particular it will present the methods of inductive logic for assessing the plausibility of arguments. It will provide an introduction to probabilistic logics and their semantics, as well as to methods of inference in probabilistic logics, with a focus on elementary methods that can be readily acquired by students with little prior training in logic and no prior knowledge of probability theory. In the absence of a text at a suitable level, this syllabus will be accompanied by a set of detailed lecture notes.

Convenor: Jon Williamson

Jon Williamson works on various topics connected with reasoning, inference and scientific method, including causal reasoning in the sciences, inductive reasoning, and the nature of probability. The aim of this module is to introduce students to cutting-edge research on topics such as these. Jon is editor of the gazette The Reasoner, co-director of the Centre for Reasoning, and author of books on reasoning such as Bayesian nets and causality (OUP 2005), In defence of objective Bayesianism (OUP 2010) and Probabilistic logics and probabilistic networks (Springer 2011).

Read more
30

Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? What distinguishes different sorts of political violence? Ought the state to have a monopoly on political violence? Are there some methods that should never be used to further political goals? In this course, we will look at the various forms of political violence, and consider how political and legal theorists have tried to regulate violent interaction between states and within states. We will examine the conceptual difficulties that arise when postulating international laws, and consider the role of the United Nations as international mediator and law enforcer. We will also look at the rights of self-determination amongst sub-national groups, and at the obligations of the international community to intervene to prevent humanitarian abuses.

Read more
30

Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a benevolent charity, or an unelected, unaccountable group wielding enormous political power?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular case studies, such as the recent debate over the showing of an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords, and the West's failure to intervene in Rwanda.

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30

How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

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30

The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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30

Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of science. Texts to be studied will be drawn from a list which includes major works by philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Salmon, etc. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Themes to be studied will include: the nature of scientific theory change, the status of scientific claims, the methodology of scientific reasoning, the prospects for automating scientific reasoning.

The course will cover a range of topics such as:

Inductivism versus falsificationism

Research Programmes

Incommensurability

Realism

Instrumentalism

Probabilistic Reasoning

Causal Reasoning

Mathematical Reasoning

Confirmation

Explanation

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30

The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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30

This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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30

This module provides an opportunity for independent work within an area of philosophy chosen by the student. THOSE WHO WISH TO TAKE THIS MODULE MUST (1) ENSURE THAT THERE IS A MEMBER OF THE PHILOSOPHY BOARD OF STUDIES WILLING TO SUPERVISE THEIR WORK; (2) SUBMIT AN OUTLINE AND PROVISIONAL TITLE OF THE PROPOSED DISSERTATION, ENDORSED BY THE PROSPECTIVE SUPERVISOR, TO THE MODULE CONVENOR FOR APPROVAL BEFORE BEING ADMITTED ONTO THE MODULE. STUDENTS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO JOIN ONE OF THE READING GROUPS (TO BE ANNOUNCED) AND WORK ON THEIR ESSAY AND DISSERTATION WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.The Dissertation should normally be about 9000 (maximum 10000) words long; it may consist either of an essay on a single theme, or of two or three Essays on complementary themes in Philosophy. Please note that the Dissertation is one of the most difficult modules. You should not apply to register for it unless you have a definite project to which you are seriously committed with the support of a member of staff who is willing to supervise you.

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30

This module provides an opportunity for students to produce a substantial piece of independent philosophical work, and at the same time to improve their skills in essay writing by getting one-to-one supervision and feedback on a specific piece of work. It is available to Single Honours and Joint Honours Philosophy students. It cannot be taken by other students as a 'wild module'. THOSE WISHING TO TAKE THE MODULE MUST ENSURE THAT THERE IS A MEMBER OF THE PHILOSOPHY BOARD OF STUDIES WILLING TO SUPERVISE THEIR WORK. THEY MUST SUBMIT AN OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED AREA OF STUDY, ENDORSED BY THE PROSPECTIVE SUPERVISOR, TO THE MODULE CONVENOR FOR APPROVAL BEFORE BEING ADMITTED ONTO THE MODULE.

The Extended Essay should not be more than 5000 words long and must be submitted by the first day of the following term. Please note that the extended essay is considered a difficult module. You should not apply to register for it unless you have a definite project to which you are seriously committed with the support of a member of staff who is willing to supervise you.

Note: you can not take PL520 in conjunction with PL507 Philosophy Dissertation

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What is art? What is an artwork? Do all types and examples of (what are traditionally classed as) artworks have identifying features in common? If so, what are they? Or, are there such interesting differences between works of literature, pieces of sculpture and the like, that searching for a definition of art is a futile task and this type of question misguided? Do avant-garde works count as art? Can anything count as art, such as food, if it’s presented in the right way or made with the right sort of intention? What does all of this tell us about the nature of definition generally?

These are some of the questions that we will explore at the start of this course. After that we will consider other issues and questions. What is the relation of art to beauty and other aesthetic qualities? What is it for a performance to be ‘authentic’ and is this sort of performance to be privileged in any way? Why is rock music such a part of our lives? Is there anything aesthetically wrong with a forgery? What is the nature of aesthetic experience and of our emotional responses to art? Why do we care so much about the fate of fictional characters? Is there any difference between pornography and erotica? Are artists subject to a different moral code? And what on earth is the point of public art? What is public art?

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We typically value justified belief more than simple belief, for very good reasons: a justified belief is more likely to be true than a randomly selected one. Indeed, we value knowledge even more than justified belief, since, arguably, a belief that qualifies as knowledge is true. But when is a belief justified? And what is knowledge? Is any of our beliefs justified? Do we know anything at all? Do we know that it's 8 o’ clock if at 8 o’ clock we see a broken watch indicating 8 o’ clock? Do we know that our cat is sleeping on the sofa, if we don’t know that we’re not brains in a vat? This module investigates these and other epistemological questions, mostly by looking at some deeply puzzling sceptical arguments, some of which areas old as Philosophy is, and all of which have sprung very lively debates in the recent philosophical literature.

This module is designed to introduce students to some key philosophical notions – such as belief, justification and knowledge – and to some of the most exciting and interesting literature on the subject. The module begins with a brief overview of the literature on the analysis of knowledge – this will introduce students to the main philosophical approaches to justification and knowledge: internalism and externalism. The module will then move on to consider two influential forms of Skepticism: Pyrronian skepticism and Cartesian skepticism. Students will be introduced to the main views on the structure of justification – foundationalism, coherentism and entitlement approaches – as well as to the main semantic accounts of 'know’ – contextualism, dogmatism and relevant alternatives/tracking theories. Some epistemic principles, such as the so-called KK principle, will be introduced via the presentation of epistemic paradoxes, such as the Surprise Examination Paradox.

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We often make claims about the world, whether in Ethics, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, History or Science. These claims might be thought to involve a correspondence between how we think about the world and how the world 'really is'. This course aims to examine questions of realism and anti-realism: does the world outrun our ability to talk about it? Do some ways of talking about the world capture how the world really is? Can we even make sense of there being a world independent of how we think about it?

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What makes it the case that certain actions, such as stealing and sharing, have ethical value? Are ethical values such as goodness and badness, compassion and cruelty, mind-independent ethical properties, properties that exist no matter what anyone thinks, desires, aims at and the like? Or are there no such ethical properties at all and when we call something good we are just expressing our emotions and feelings about a nonethical world? Are there any other positions available?

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the most exciting and interesting philosophical literature in recent years, which brings together ethics and metaphysics with a little epistemology and philosophy of language. The first half of this course will examine (what are often called) "metaethical" questions such as those above. We will then move on to discuss debates concerning moral psychology and motivation. When one says 'charity-giving is good' is it a matter of necessity that one will be motivated to some extent to give to charity? Or is it possible for one to make such a judgement and have no motivation at all (and for such a judgement to count as a legitimate moral judgement)? At the end we will see how these questions concerning psychology are integral to the earlier debates of metaphysics. Throughout, we will be examining these questions and issues by looking at work by authors from the start of the twentieth century (e.g. G. E. Moore) and by more recent writers (e.g. Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, J. L. Mackie, John McDowell and Michael Smith).

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This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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Please note: all Module Handbook information is subject to change pending faculty approval.

Wittgenstein is widely thought to have been the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. This module will concentrate in depth on some of Wittgenstein’s work by focusing on selected passages of his writings. The actual passages or texts focused on from year to year may vary.

Wittgenstein

Julia Tanney’s interest in Wittgenstein began as an undergraduate when she was introduced to the ideas of Wittgenstein through the teachings of Philippa Foot, David Pears, and Rogers Albritton, and, as a graduate student, of Crispin Wright. She has taught the Philosophical Investigations for over 20 years in England and in France. She has produced several articles, including “Real Rules”, “Reason-Explanation and the Contents of the Mind”, “On the Conceptual, Psychological, and Moral Status of Zombies, Swamp-Beings, and other ‘Behaviorally Indistinguishable’ Creatures”, and “Self-Knowledge, Normativity, and Construction”, reprinted in Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012) which bring to bear Wittgenstein’s later philosophy on today’s theorizing in the philosophy of mind and action. This module uses the virtual world of Second Life to bring Wittgenstein’s primitive language games to life and to help students reflect on questions such as what it is to understand, think, intend, act for reasons, and to mean what we say.

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This module studies some central questions in philosophy of religion, drawing on topics in metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. It begins by studying and critically assessing three of the 'classical' arguments for the existence of God—the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the argument from design —which consider respectively whether reason, science or experience can show us that God exists. It goes on to consider the relationship between religion and morality, examining Kant’s moral argument, which appears to support a case for the existence of God, and Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma, which appears to tell against it. Finally, it considers some central topics in religious epistemology, language and philosophy of mind, including: miracles, the nature of religious experience, religious language and personal identity. One underlying question the module considers is whether the above arguments and topics could be used to support or tell against an argument for the overall rationality of religious belief.

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This module has an ambitious but hopefully not ridiculous goal: to teach you something about how to live well. It will do so by introducing you to some of the most prominent philosophical traditions that have tried to offer practical advice on how to live, such as that of the Stoics and the Epicureans, but also the religiously inspired traditions of Buddhists, Confucians and Jesuit philosophers.* Of course, you can't learn to live well simply by reading a few books—not even really good ones. That’s why, as part of the module, you’ll also spend three days living in accordance with one of the traditions covered, and then reporting back your experience to the rest of the class, either through a traditional presentation, or by making a short video about your experience. You might not come out a Stoic sage at the other end of this module (although who knows?), but you’ll have learned quite a few things about what some very interesting people thought about how to live well, some of which you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily life.

* Topics covered will likely vary from year to year. The variations will be guided by the expertise of whichever person happens to be convening the module any given year, and by student feedback on previous years.

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This course brings together a range of theories of love from the history of philosophy and from various traditions, including analytical philosophy, feminism, pragmatism and continental thought. It will explore questions of love, beauty and friendship in Plato, religious models in Aquinas, ars erotica in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophies of love, Romantic traditions of love, the logic of love in Peirce and James, feminist politics of love and maternity, and cognitive models of love. The course will also examine a range of analytical questions of love, including debates about the different types of love (eros, agape and philia), the problems of talking about love in philosophical language, distinctions between self-love and relational love, the relation of love to literature and poetry, love as embodied instinct and mental idea, the relation between love and sex, and connections between love, compassion and caring. The aim of the course is to combine a philosophical history of love with critical analytical skills to think about love as a dynamic feature of human relationships.

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William James (1842-1910) has arguably had a profound impact in the shaping of three contemporary disciplines: philosophy, psychology and the study of religion. This course aims to examine the life and work of William James in depth. It will examine the life of William James and the James family and show how this relates to his work. The course will examine his key texts: Principles of Psychology (1890), The Will to Believe (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and his studies of pragmatism, including Pragmatism (1907), The Pluralistic Universe (1909) and The Meaning of Truth (1909). It will also explore his long term and frustrated attempt to set up a scientific study of psychical phenomena.

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The present module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. That said, the relevant variations will be constrained by considerations ensuring that one cohort will not be disadvantaged compared to the next, and are likely to consistently include some sub-set of the following:

• Authoritarianism

• Behavioural economics

• Collective action

• Federal and non-federal unions

• Game theory

• Liberalism, illiberalism, and paternalism

• Markets and trade

• Money and finance

• Philosophy of Power

• Property

• Public choice

• Rational choice

• States and corporations

• Terrorism

• Theocracy

• Voting

• Work and capital

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

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This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

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This module is aimed at those students who would like to follow a career as Primary or Secondary School teachers, but is also suitable to those who would like to combine an academic course with work experience. Placements in a school environment will enhance the students' employment opportunities as they will acquire a range of skills. It will also provide the students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of Religious Education and Philosophy in the primary or secondary school context. The university sessions and weekly school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance. The student will spend one half-day per week for ten weeks in a school where each student will have a designated teacher-mentor who will guide their work in school. They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers’ tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Teaching and assessment

Assessment varies from 100% coursework, to a combination of examination and coursework.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programmes specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes will depend on your specific module selection:

Careers

Through your studies, you gain the key transferable skills considered essential by graduate employers. These include excellent communication skills, both written and oral, the ability to work in a team and independently, and the ability to analyse and summarise complex material and devise innovative and well thought-out solutions.

Our graduates go into a wide range of careers, particularly those where an in-depth understanding of how language functions is essential. Examples include teaching, company training, publishing, journalism and other professional writing, media, advertising, marketing, public relations, the civil and diplomatic services, and the legal profession.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

BBB

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at HL

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2018/19 annual tuition fees for this programme are:

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15200
Part-time £4625 £7600

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2018/19 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,385

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2018/19 academic year pay £1,385 for that year. 

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.