Module and Programme Catalogue

Search site

Find information on

2017/18 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL3852 Philosophy of Modern Physics

20 creditsClass Size: 60

Module manager: Dr Juha Saatsi

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

Pre-requisite qualifications

EITHER: 20 credits of level 2 Physics (or equiv) OR: A level Physics (or equiv) together with 20 credits of level 2 Philosophy from one of the following streams: Logic & Language, Mind & Knowledge and Science, or Metaphysical Philosophy. Students who don't have A-level physics (or equivalent) may be allowed to enrol after discussion with the module leader.

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What is the nature of reality as described by modern physics? This is the central question considered in this module as we examine a selection of philosophical issues at the heart of some of the central pillars of modern physics (quantum theory, space-time physics, statistical physics). They exact focus can vary from year to year, but here are possible questions to consider: Does the world consist only of physical objects standing in certain spatial and temporal relations to one another, or do space and time also exist as entities themselves? Are space and time doomed to fade away into mere shadows according to relativity theory? If so, what is spacetime? Can the metaphysics of everyday and classical objects be their quantum counterparts? Can quantum objects be said to possess properties independent of sentient observers? In what sense does quantum mechanics involve 'spooky action at a distance'? How can we reconcile quantum indeterminacy and holism with the determinate and particular features of the world we observe? Is there an 'arrow of time' to be found in the fundamental physics?


To provide a critical understanding of the development of 20th century physics and its leading philosophical problems.


This module will examine philosophical issues connected with modern physics (e.g. quantum mechanics, special and general relativity), such as determinism, causality and the nature of space and time.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2,000 words50.00
Essay2,000 words50.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 22/05/2018


Browse Other Catalogues

Errors, omissions, failed links etc should be notified to the Catalogue Team.PROD

© Copyright Leeds 2013