Module Catalogue 2024/25

PHI1010 : Rationalism and Empiricism

PHI1010 : Rationalism and Empiricism

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Michael Lewis
  • Owning School: School X
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System

Modules you must have done previously to study this module

Pre Requisite Comment



Modules you need to take at the same time

Co Requisite Comment



The aims of this module is to introduce students to some of the key debates in epistemology (theory of knowledge). Students will be introduced to and encouraged to reflect upon some of the central ideas and conceptual systems from the Modern Age. The module will be centred upon the debate between rationalism and empiricism, engaged in by such figures as David Hume and John Locke on the side of empiricism, Descartes, Spinoza, and Leibniz on the side of rationalism.

Outline Of Syllabus

Students will cover some key thinkers associated with rationalism and empiricism, including but not limited to:
-       Descartes
-       Spinoza
-       Leibniz
-       Locke
-       Berkeley
-       Hume

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will:
-       Become acquainted with key ideas of rationalism and empiricism
-       Understand the area of epistemology
-       Acquire a basic understanding certain concepts central to modern philosophy

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will:
-       Be able to use the terminology of rationalism, empiricism, and other basic tenets of epistemology and modern philosophy more broadly
-       Be able to compare and contrast different schools of thought
-       Engage critically and sensitively with key texts

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture81:008:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion120:0020:00Essay preparation and completion
Structured Guided LearningStructured research and reading activities101:0010:00Specific research or reading activities developed and directed by academic staff.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching81:008:00Tutorials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study152:0052:00Review lecture material, prepare for small group teaching and assessment.
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce key themes and ideas relevant to empiricism and rationalism, which will pave the way for studying Kant in Stage 2.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A1002000 word essay
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The student chooses a title from a list of questions. These questions encourage independent research using the lecture content as a foundation and makes it possible to assess knowledge acquisition, interpretive skill and theoretical understanding as well as the analytical, creative and critical potential of students. The essay tests the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently as well as managing one’s own work to set time limits.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes


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You may have some queries about the modules available to you. Your school office will be able to signpost you to someone who will support you with any queries.


The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2024 academic year.

In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described.

Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2025/26 entry will be published here in early-April 2025. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.