The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered

Course handbook


The course will introduce students to philosophy through the study of four central areas of philosophical interest: epistemology, critical reasoning, metaphysics and ethics. A basic level of knowledge of core philosophical concepts and skills is provided along with development of a wider set of necessary skills for university study, including academic reading, writing and research skills. Exploration of individual beliefs and mutual respect for the diversity of viewpoints across individuals and cultures is encouraged through discussion.


Not currently offered.

This Course was last offered in Semester 2 - 2016.

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Demonstrate a basic familiarity with the fundamental issues, concepts and arguments in epistemology, critical reasoning, metaphysics and ethics;

2. Demonstrate an awareness of the difference between mere opinion and reasoned belief and a recognition of, and respect for, competing points of view;

3. Demonstrate a basic capacity to construct and critically evaluate arguments;

4. Demonstrate a basic competence in the reading of academic texts and a capacity to integrate reading of texts with material presented in lectures;

5. Demonstrate a basic competence in critical thinking and essay writing skills, including the use of argument, organisation of ideas and the use and acknowledgement of primary and secondary literature sources;

6. Demonstrate a basic competence in research skills, including the use of libraries.


The course covers:

Epistemology: our knowledge of the external world.

  1. What is knowledge?
  2. The fallibility of perceptions.
  3. Do we have knowledge of the external world?
  4. Scepticism.
  5. Avoiding scepticism: An alternative view of knowledge.

Metaphysics and the meaning of life:

  1. The nature and purpose of metaphysics.
  2. The mid/body problem.
  3. Various topics in metaphysics, such as: the existence of God; free will; philosophy in popular culture.

Critical Reasoning: Evaluating Arguments

  1. Thinking clearly: why it matters
  2. Analysing arguments: A basic introduction to logic - propositional arguments and predicate arguments
  3. Evaluation of informal fallacies

Ethics: Investigating 'right' and 'wrong'

  1. Nature and purpose of ethics
  2. Basic ethical principles and where they come from
  3. Objective and subjective theories of ethics
  4. Application of ethics to a case study


This course is not available to students who have successfully completed or are enrolled in EPHUMA150 or EPHUMA250.

Assessment items

Essay: Minor Essay - Epistemology

Essay: Major Essay - Metaphysics

Written Assignment: Critical Reasoning Assignment

Essay: Major Essay - Ethics

In Term Test: Class Test

Formal Examination: Final Examination