Module Catalogue 2018/19

PHI2003 : Ethics and the Modern World

  • Offered for Year: 2018/19
  • Module Leader(s): Dr David Rose
  • Owning School: Philosophical Studies & Combined Honours
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Code Title
PHI1010European Philosophical Traditions I: Knowledge, Reality, Truth
PHI1011European Philosophical Traditions II: Moral Philosophy and Human Nature
Pre Requisite Comment

At least one of the above or another 20 credit stage 1 Philosophical Studies module required

Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



To introduce students to the foundations, fundamental themes and development of modern ethical thinking from the Enlightenment to the present day and to demonstrate the relevance of ethical theory to contemporary moral debates.

This module offers an accessible introduction to the most important sources, ideas and problems in modern ethical theory with particular attention to egoism, utilitarianism and Continental ethical theory. Seminar time will also be devoted to applying many of the theories to contemporary social problems chosen from topics such as war, famine, animal rights, the environment and genetics.

Outline Of Syllabus

We shall supply the theoretical groundwork for looking at ethical issues by introducing and interrogating principal modern ethical positions from thinkers such as Hobbes, Smith, Kant, Hegel and Mill, as well as more contemporary thinkers such as MacIntyre and Vattimo. The theories will be used to consider the problems of moral luck, determinism and moral scepticism and to interrogate contemporary ethical issues such as plagiarism, intellectual property, digital ownership and objectification.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
•       identify the basic positions and ideas of the ethical theories of modernity;
•       identify the specific ideas of and problems with at least three moral thinkers/theories;
•       relate these theories to ethical issues in contemporary society.

Intended Skill Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will be able to:
•       critically assess at least three ethical positions;
•       orally and verbally express the significance and relevance of moral thinking to issues in contemporary society;
•       think analytically about moral issues and problems.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Assessed
    • Literacy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Independence : Assessed
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion401:0040:00Preparation and completion of assessment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1120:00120:00Review lecture material and prepare for small group teaching
Jointly Taught With
Code Title
PHI2103Ethics and the Modern World (Study Abroad Semester 1)
PHI2203Ethics and the Modern World (Study Abroad Semester 2)
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures will introduce students to the leading ethical theories of modernity. Students will also be taught how such theories can illuminate current ethical debates and discussion time will be inserted so students can develop the skill of applying these theories in order to enlighten current debates.

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502000 words
Essay2A502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The first essay is one out of six standard topics whereas the second can be designed by the student with the tutor’s help and approval. This makes it possible to assess knowledge acquisition, interpretative skill and theoretical understanding as well as the analytic and critical abilities of the student. The essays test the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently as well as managing one’s own work to set time limits. This assessment method also gauges the students’ ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, and to cite relevant texts and interpret them adequately.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2018/19 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 2018/19 entry will be published here in early-April 2018. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.