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2024/25 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PHIL2925 Reality Check: Topics in Metaphysics

20 creditsClass Size: 120

Module manager: Alastair Wilson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2024/25

Pre-requisite qualifications

PHIL1090 Knowledge, Self and Reality or PHIL1555 Philosophy for PPE

Module replaces

PHIL2542 Introduction to Metaphysics

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will introduce students to some of the central topics in metaphysics and the strategies philosophers have used to address those topics. Metaphysics asks questions about the world at the most abstract level, where central questions involve what exists and what its nature is. For example, do concrete objects exist? Or abstract objects? Or free will?


Metaphysics is about the nature and existence of the world at a fundamental level. Students taking this module will investigate various aspects of metaphysics, asking question about what exists and what its nature is, such as:

* Why is there something rather than nothing?
* Is the world fundamentally mind, matter, or something else?
* Is talk of fundamentality meaningful? If so, what exactly does it mean?
* Does the world have parts?
* Do numbers exist?
* Do we have free will?
* What is time? Does it flow?
* Do objects exist over extended periods of time? Do people exist over extended periods of time?

Lectures will guide students through the main issues, questions and arguments, which students will then be able to explore in more detail in seminars, to develop their own view about the issues explored.

Learning outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following learning outcomes relevant to the subject:

1. Understanding of the relevant metaphysical literature through accurate explanation of relevant source material

2. Analyse and evaluate arguments in the metaphysical literature

3. Construct rationally persuasive arguments in support of your own view about the relevant metaphysical literature

Skills Learning Outcomes
On successful completion of the module students will have demonstrated the following skills learning outcomes:

4. Communicate ideas and understanding clearly and concisely, using appropriate academic language (Academic and Work Ready skill)

5. Critically analyse source material and demonstrate independence of thought (Academic and Work Ready skill)

6. Search for appropriate material to support knowledge and analysis of topics (Academic, Work Ready, Digital and Sustainability skill)

7.Conform to standards of academic integrity including when and how to appropriately acknowledge someone else’s work (Academic and Work Ready skill)


Metaphysics involves extremely general questions about (i) what exists and (ii) the nature of what exists. Potential topics include:

· Free will
· Time
· Modality
· Persistence
· Causation
· Material constitution
· Persons
· Abstract entities (like numbers)
· Social entities
· Human kinds (like gender, race, or disability)
· Fictional entities

Teaching methods

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

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Formative assessment in this module is designed to facilitate (i) differentiated instruction, (ii) active student reflection on skills development, and (iii) student choice. In addition to the formative feedback available to students in office hours and seminar-based activities, students are invited to complete one piece of formative work which will receive written feedback. In this module, students are given three options:

essay plan

literature review

exposition and critique of a philosophical argument or position

By giving students a choice, this formative assessment takes account of variations in prior knowledge and skill development, and it enables the instructor to respond to students’ individual needs. It also builds students’ academic self-conception and encourages them to take ownership over their intellectual development. To do this, and to ensure that students get the formative feedback they need, each student is required to select an option after critical reflection on the skills that they judge they most need to work on. They are asked to read and reflect on (i) the feedback they received in previous summative assessments, (ii) the PRHS marking criteria for their upcoming summative assessment, and (iii) the specific guidance provided on the summative assessment in this module. These exercises encourage students to engage with previous feedback, think about current expectations, and take an active role in honing their knowledge and skill development.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000-word essay100.00
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: 29/04/2024 16:19:43


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