The Big Questions: An Introduction to Philosophy
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This course will introduce you to perennial philosophical questions. At one time or another, you have probably entertained some fundamental philosophical questions, e.g., "should I believe in God?", "is happiness all that matters?", or "does my morality apply to others?" One objective of this course is to provide you with formal training so that you become more adept at contending with difficult and unfamiliar problems. By the end of this course, you should be able to clearly express, both orally and in writing, arguments defending your own point of view. Answers to the big questions discussed in this course are in no way presupposed. Our job is not to indoctrinate you, but to educate you, especially in regards to the skills of critical thinking and reasoned argumentation. You are free to hold any conclusion you wish, but we will be challenging you in order to give you the opportunity to practice defending your views and skillfully, critically, and logically arguing against the views of others. While no prior knowledge of philosophy is presupposed, curiosity and willingness to engage with important issues is.
This is an asynchronous FLEXI paper, so students can complete every task for this paper online and will be able to fit all tasks around other reasonable time commitments.
What students should do. Each week focuses on a different big question from philosophy. Each week, students are expected to do these things (in this order): download and read the study guide, watch lecture videos and read readings (while taking notes on the study guide), look at any optional materials they are interested in, attend a face-to-face or online forum-based tutorial, complete a quiz (using the study guide), and work towards the major pieces of assessment (the Essay and the Final Assignment).
Please note that some of the information required to do well on the Online Quizzes and the Essay will be presented in the readings but not during lectures and vice versa, so students should consider all of the material under the "Lecture and Reading Material" heading each week to be compulsory. When grading the assessment for this paper, we assume that students are familiar with all of the lecture and reading content for the relevant topics.
Sign-up for tutorials is on Moodle. Tutorials are always on the same topic as the lectures in each week. Attendance at/completion of the tutorials is not compulsory, but participation is graded. So, students should attend/complete as many tutorials as possible, preferably all of them. Students will have to decide at the start of the course whether they will attend an in-person tutorial or the asynchronous online forum-based tutorial. Students need to register this decision in Moodle as soon as they have access to the Moodle page. Instructions are in the Welcome block on Moodle.
Tutorials begin Week 1. There is a tutorial every teaching week except the last. So, there are 11 weeks of tutorials in total.
Please note that discussing the material with other students is permitted, but sharing/giving/selling Study Guides is not permitted and is considered academic misconduct. Sharing Study Guides undermines the other student's opportunity to learn the material for themselves.
There are no in-person lectures.
There is no exam.
Students who successfully complete the paper should be able to:
On successful completion of this course, students will have learned to effectively utilise some important tools, concepts, and theories from several areas of philosophy, including applying them to their thinking about their lives and the world around them.Linked to the following assessments:
Students will have acquired knowledge of important philosophical debates, including debates in the areas of: philosophy of religion, metaphysics, and ethics.Linked to the following assessments:
Formulating and expressing justified philosophical positions
Students completing the course will be able to formulate their own answers to the big questions discussed throughout the course, both in discussion (lectures and tutorials) and through written assessment (essays and the in-class test). Students will be able to justify their answers in a logical way to themselves and others.Linked to the following assessments:
Students completing the course will be able to reason critically about the topics discussed in the course, be able to provide logical defenses of their answers against critical questioning, and be able to skillfully critique the views and arguments of others.Linked to the following assessments:
This paper is wholly internally assessed. Each piece of assessment has been designed to enable students to demonstrate their grasp of essential concepts and techniques at progressive stages of the paper and for teaching staff to assess the progress they are making and to adjust lecture plans if necessary.
Assessment for the course consists of quizzes, an essay, a test, and tutorial participation. While no item of assessment is formally identified as compulsory, in practice you will need to take part in all pieces of assessment in order to do well in the paper. As there is no formal exam, and no compulsory piece of assessment, the IC (incomplete) grade does not apply to this paper. If for any reason you do not wish to continue with the paper you should withdraw before 5pm on the second Friday of the semester in order to receive a refund. After that time it is still possible to withdraw, without a refund, prior to 5pm on the sixth Friday of the semester. Dropping out without withdrawing leads to a failing grade on your academic record.
The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0. There is no final exam. The final exam makes up 0% of the overall mark.
The internal assessment/exam ratio (as stated in the University Calendar) is 100:0 or 0:0, whichever is more favourable for the student. The final exam makes up either 0% or 0% of the overall mark.
Error: Assessment components must add up to 100%
At least one Assessment Component needs to be entered
|Component Description||Due Date||Time||Percentage of overall mark||Submission Method||Compulsory|
1. Tutorial Participation|
Sum of Best ( 10 )
Sum of Best ( 10 )
20 Aug 2021
|4. Final Assignment||
22 Oct 2021
Required and Recommended Readings*
The total workload for this paper is 150 hours, which is just over 10 hours per week during teaching weeks and the study break. As a guide, students should do the following:
- 2.5 hours of watching lecture videos and taking notes
- 2.5 hours of reading and taking notes
- 1 hour of tutorial participation
- 1 hour of preparing for and taking the quiz
- 3 hours of preparing for and writing major assessment (may not be evenly spread over the weeks)
If you are struggling with the content of the paper, the first question you should ask yourself is: "Am I doing enough study?" if you are doing this much study and you are still struggling, please do not hesitate to get in touch with the teaching staff for advice.
Linkages to Other Papers*
Restricted papers: PHIL150