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2017/18 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2422 Topics in Epistemology: Knowledge and Justification

20 creditsClass Size: 136

In light of the effect of COVID-19 and lockdown restrictions on students' learning experiences, the School of PRHS have made the decision to modify assessment in Semester 2 modules in the 2020-21 academic year. Changes may involve reducing the number of assessment points (e.g. assessing one essay rather than two) or reducing word counts where it is possible to do so whilst protecting the integrity of the module's Learning Outcomes. Information on any changes to assessment is available to enrolled students in the Minerva module area, and can also be sought from the module leader or the PRHS SES team.

Module manager: Dr Lea Salje

Taught: Semester 1 (Sep to Jan) View Timetable

Year running 2017/18

Pre-requisite qualifications

40 credits of Philosophy modules at level 1.

This module is mutually exclusive with

PHIL2421Introduction to Epistemology

Module replaces

PHIL2421 Introduction to Epistemology

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How do you know what time it is? In fact, do you know what time it is? Are you sure? Isn't it possible that you could be deceived? If it's possible that you're being deceived then can you really say that you know? Even if you don't know what time it is, do you have good reason for for believing what you believe? This module will cover a range of issues concerning human knowledge and associated epistemological concepts such as having a good reason for belief ("justificiation").This module is taught through lectures and tutorials throughout semester 1.


On completion of this module, students should be able to:
1. describe and critically assess philosophical claims about the nature of knowledge, justification, and associated epistemic concepts;
2. describe and critically assess various arguments for and against these philosophical claims.


Topics covered may include the following:

1. The case for skepticism, the thesis that we typically know nothing or next to nothing;
2. The analysis of knowledge, or whether there are informative necessary and sufficient conditions for someone's knowing that something is the case;
3. The nature of justificiation: under what conditions do we have the right to be sure about our beliefs? Is this justification "internal" to us, so that we can spot it from the "inside"? In order to be justified in a belief, does that belief have to be based on another belief we're justified in believing?
4. The sources of knowledge and justification: are we justified in believing things on the basis of testimony? On the basis of our memory? On the basis of our senses? On the basis of inductive reasoning? And if so, why?
5. Other related issues concerning knowledge and justification.

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours180.00
Total Contact hours20.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Lecture preparation: 70 (14 lectures * 5 hours each)
Tutorial preparation: 30 (6 tutorials * 5 hours each)
Essay preparation: 44 hours
Online Discussion Board preparation: 36 hours

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words60.00
Online AssessmentDiscussion Board Contributions40.00
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: 20/07/2017


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