PHI1001 : European Philosophical Traditions

  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Rose
  • Owning School: Chemical Eng & Advanced Materials
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


To introduce students to the discipline of the history of ideas and to study the intellectual foundations of Western civilisation and the Enlightenment project.

Original Summary:
Students will be introduced to and encouraged to reflect upon some of the key ideas and conceptual systems from the history of European thought, from the pre-Socratics to the dawn of the Enlightenment. The lectures will discuss the contrast between the Ancient and Modern scientific worldviews, study the relationship between philosophical concepts and the historical and material conditions of society which gave birth to them, look at the origin of modern scientific method and also interrogate the ethics, metaphysics and methodology of prominent thinkers from the Western tradition.

Outline Of Syllabus

In these lectures, students will be introduced to the history of ideas in relation to specific thinkers and epochs:

1.       Introduction: what is philosophy? Metaphysics (description of reality), epistemology (theory of knowledge) and ethics.

2.       The Ancient World introduction to the Greek world; the ethics, science, metaphysics and epistemology of the Greek world; the pre-Socratics, Socrates, Plato and Aristotle; brief discussion of other schools of thought, which may include atomism, Epicureanism, scepticism, and stoicism.

3.       The Roman and Christian World: the power of the Church, its rise and fall and the consequences for philosophical and scientific endeavour.

4.       The Pre-moderns, the Renaissance and the Reformation: the rise of the commercial classes and the Italian city states, individualism; the Great Chain of Being, rhetoric and Italian humanism; pragmatism and political realism, cyclical history. The Reformation and the growing importance of the subject.

5.       Modernity: the birth of modern science and the rejection of Aristotelian metaphysics, the Cartesian method and the cogito, Hobbes and Galileo’s method, objectivity, the British Empiricists, the Social Contract and political liberalism, social atomism, Natural Law, equality, counter-Enlightenment voices.

The subjects of the lectures will be augmented by discussions in tutorials of specific issues in the history of thought and students will be introduced to good use of analysis and logical argument.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Essay writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1140:00140:00Review lecture material, prepare for small group teaching and assessment
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures convey the underlying philosophical, cultural and socio-political thoughts and practices characteristic of the European tradition as a foundation for further future consideration of the Enlightenment project. The content of the course will be supported by extracts from original texts, illustrations, examples, historical knowledge and slides in lectures and by structured discussion sessions where students will reinforce knowledge and develop dialogue and communication skills.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1M502000 words
Essay2M502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first essay is one out of six standard topics whereas the second can be created by the student with the tutor’s help and written approval. This makes it possible to assess knowledge acquisition, interpretative skill and theoretical understanding as well as the analytical, creative and critical potential of students. The essays test the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently as well as managing one’s own work to set time limits.

Reading Lists


Disclaimer: The University will use all reasonable endeavours to deliver modules in accordance with the descriptions set out in this catalogue. Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, however, the University reserves the right to introduce changes to the information given including the addition, withdrawal or restructuring of modules if it considers such action to be necessary.