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2022/23 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2542 Introduction to Metaphysics

20 creditsClass Size: 136

Module manager: Prof. Darren Bradley

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2022/23

Pre-requisite qualifications

This module will assume knowledge of introductory logic.

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module is an introductory course in metaphysics. Its main concern is with ontology, the study of what, in the most general, abstract terms, exist. What we are aiming at is not simply a list of such things, however. Ontology seeks answers to problems arising from our ways of thinking about the world and ourselves, such as, for example, our intuitive belief that we somehow persist through time. This raises the question of what it is to persist. Does anything, in fact, do so? Does anything survive change in its properties? Does that mean that an object is something over and above its properties? What, exactly? Does anything exist that is incapable of change, and indeed outside space and time altogether? And so on. Perhaps the most fundamental metaphysical problem of all is why there is anything at all, rather than NOTHING. Other potential topics are: Are objects just bundles of attributes? What are attributes and do they exist in their own right? What is the nature of possibility? What is the nature of existence? Are there things that do not exist? Is the will genuinely free or are all of our actions fully determined?Does the world exist independently of us and our theories about it? Once the world is sufficiently complex, are there genuinely new, "emergent" features of the world? By the end of the course you should be familiar with a range of problems, positions and arguments in contemporary and/or historical metaphysics, and you should have developed techniques for engaging critically with them.


This module will introduce students to some of the key ideas and thinkers in either or both of historical and contemporary metaphysics, and will provide a grounding that can be built upon in the level 3 advanced metaphysics classes.

Learning outcomes
Students will:

i) be aware of some of the major debates in metaphysics throughout the history of the discipline;
ii) be able to engage with those debates and relate them to other issues in philosophy.


We will tackle classic debates in metaphysics and ontology such as
i) the nature of ontology;
ii) the existence of properties, and the relation between a thing and its properties;
iii) the nature of persistence;
iv) the nature of change;
v) why is there something rather than nothing?

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours181.00
Total Contact hours19.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Private study will involve reading and reflecting on the assigned readings, and essay planning.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students will have the opportunity to submit a 500-word essay plan for feedback. Students will also have the opportunity to write a summary (max 350 words) of the reading to get feedback on their understanding of the material. Students can do this any week, up to a maximum of 5 times.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2000 words (end of module)100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

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

Reading list

There is no reading list for this module

Last updated: 12/10/2022


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