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School of Social Sciences

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BAEcon Economics
Learn how the social sciences can help you to understand today's world.

BAEcon Economics

Year of entry: 2018

Course unit details:
History of Philosophy

Unit code PHIL10401
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


The course unit will cover a variety of philosophical figures and texts from the ancient to the early modern period, from both Western and non-Western traditions, focusing on Plato and Aristotle from 4th /5th Century BC Greece; the Islamic philosophers Avicenna and Al-Kindi from the middle ages; and, from 17th/18th -Century Europe, Descartes, and Spinoza and Leibniz – drawing connections between them, and bringing other philosophers from history to bear on the issues, where appropriate. All texts are read in translation, and no knowledge of languages other than English is either assumed or required.


The unit aims both to introduce students to the history of philosophy, and to foster the skills of close scrutiny of philosophical texts, developing a critical understanding of translated texts not originally written in contemporary English, and interpretation.

Learning outcomes

Student should acquire each of the following:

Knowledge and Understanding:  Students should acquire knowledge of some key philosophical figures and texts from Ancient Greece to the early modern period, and understanding of some of their philosophical positions and arguments. They should also acquire understanding of how a philosophical text can be interpreted in different ways.

Intellectual skills: Skills in close reading of philosophical texts (many not written in contemporary English style) and adjudicating between rival interpretations.

Practical skills: skills in time-management, in independent working, and in developing motivation and personal initiative.

Transferable skills and personal qualities:  The course unit should increase students’ skills in understanding difficult material, critical analysis, and assessing and formulating arguments.

Teaching and learning methods

One 2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week.

Employability skills

Analytical skills
Oral communication
Written communication

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are formative feedback on essay plans and summative written feedback responses to assessed essays. You are also welcome to discuss essays with your tutor and the course convenor, and exams with the course convenor.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

Julia Annas: Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2000)

Peter Adamson: Philosophy in the Islamic World: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2015)
Tom Sorell: Descartes: A Very Short Introduction (OUP, 2000)

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Helen Beebee Unit coordinator

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