The University of Southampton
Courses

PHIL2021 Epistemology

Module Overview

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Knowledge, and our concern for acquiring it, play a pervasive role in our lives. We spend an inordinate amount of time taking means to come to know things, about matters profound or (more often) banal, for their own sake or (more often) in order to help us decide how to act.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

Epistemology is the study of knowledge. Knowledge and our concern for acquiring it play a pervasive role in our lives. We spend an inordinate amount of time taking means to come to know things, about matters profound or banal, for their own sake or in order to help us decide how to act. But what is knowledge? What does it take to know something, rather than merely believe it? Why do we care about knowledge? Can we even have knowledge? This module aims to introduce you to these questions and to some of the most influential attempts to answer them, as well as to give you the skills you need to examine those answers critically and come up with your own.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • demonstrate knowledge of some of the central views and arguments in epistemology.
  • demonstrate an understanding of and be able critically to examine different responses to the problem of scepticism.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake, with adequate supervision, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • relate the issues the module concerns with those in other areas of philosophy, including the history of philosophy.
  • analyse the views and arguments which epistemologists advance.
  • present and debate ideas, both orally and in writing, in an open minded and rigorous way.

Syllabus

Topics examined might include the central sceptical problems and proposed solutions, various conceptions of knowledge, the most influential attempts to offer an analysis of knowledge and of its relation to belief, and the value of knowledge.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include ? Two lectures weekly ? One discussion hour weekly in which students give presentations. Learning activities include ? Attending lectures and discussion hours ? Contributing to discussion in lectures and discussion hours ? Doing research in preparation for exams ? Applying techniques and skills learnt to your reading and writing inside and outside the module

TypeHours
Teaching30
Independent Study120
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

J Dancy (1985). Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. 

D H Pritchard (2006). What is this Thing Called Knowledge?. 

Assessment

Assessment Strategy

Formative (i) You will receive written feedback on the essay (ii) By arranging a meeting with the module co-ordinator, you may receive verbal feedback on the exam, essay or any aspect of your participation in the module. (iii) You will be given the opportunity to submit an essay plan with an introduction prior to submitting the essay, for which you will receive written feedback. This formative assessment will allow you to be sure that you are working effectively, in ways that will help you to get the most out of this module.

Summative

MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 50%
Examination  (90 minutes) 50%

Referral

MethodPercentage contribution
Resubmit assessments 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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