PHIL10030 Introduction to Modern Philosophy

Academic Year 2023/2024

Can I be certain that there is a world outside me, or am I confined to my own mind alone? What can I know reliably about the world, if there is one? And if it exists knowably, how can I live with other people within it? Are we naturally selfish and dangerous? Or do we have a compassionate and gentle nature brutalised by a corrupt society? These are some of the questions to be discussed in this introduction to early modern philosophy of knowledge and social and political philosophy. The way of approaching the questions will be through a critical and historical treatment of selected writings by Descartes (1596-1650), Hobbes (1588-1679) and Rousseau (1712-1778).

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to: 1. Show familiarity with central themes and problems of modern philosophy, identifying their historical emergence and contemporary relevance. 2. Expound and evaluate key philosophical arguments set out in modern philosophy, showing their coherence and explanatory worth. 3. Write clearly, succinctly and critically on these central themes and problems of modern philosophy.

Indicative Module Content:

Scepticism about the material world; the Cogito and self-consciousness; the nature of thought; on whether a good God exists; truth and falsity; arguments for a material world and experience of same; how we can live together; the state of nature; war; the social contract; the arts and sciences; inequality; private property; the nature of the sovereign.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours




Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; stated availability for discussion immediately before and after lectures and during office hours; weekly tutorials. Aims are to provide both a sympathetic understanding and critical attitude to the philosophical topics considered. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
PHIL1007E - Phil from Descartes to Roussea

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade In Module Component Repeat Offered
Essay: Essay, title to be specified on deadline announcement. Unspecified n/a Graded No


Examination: One two hour examination with three questions to be answered.
A single A4 page with notes on both sides can be brought into the exam.
2 hour End of Trimester Exam No Graded No



Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Summer Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Meeting after essay is graded to discuss its strengths and weaknesses. Availability for meeting after written examination.

Name Role
Haikyung Kwon Tutor
Ms Aisling Phipps Tutor
Petros Satrazanis Tutor