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Study information

Philosophical Research

Module titlePhilosophical Research
Module codePHL2043
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Kirsten Walsh (Lecturer)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

In your philosophy degree thus far, you will have explored a range of philosophies and philosophers, many of which/whom represent the research interests of your lecturers. But have you ever wondered how your lecturers come up with their research ideas, and how their research actually develops? In other words, have you ever wondered what philosophy lecturers and researchers actually do when they’re not in the classroom? This is a ‘team taught module’, in which you’ll hear from several Exeter philosophy lecturers and researchers about their current research: what led them to their current research interests, how they developed their current research projects, and what their most recent discoveries, arguments and conclusions are. This module will introduce you to research in philosophy by engaging with the research, and research methods, of the philosophers at Exeter, and learn how to develop your own philosophical research project. The module functions as a precursor to the 3rd-year philosophy dissertation module (although, please note that this module is not a pre-requisite for PHL3040).

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to provide knowledge of the current research of four or five of Exeter’s philosophy lecturers/researchers, and an understanding of how they developed their research projects. By making a critical study of these research projects, your skills in the analysis, evaluation and presentation of arguments will be enhanced. And through lectures and tutorial discussions of this research,you will learn how to develop your own research questions and craft your own research projects.You will write your own research proposal, which may form the basis for your 3rd-year philosophy dissertation.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. DemonstrateTo have knowledge of the current philosophical research of several philosophy lecturers/researchers at the University of Exeter.
  • 2. Identify and cogently discuss the questions, themes and topics addressed by several philosophy lecturers/researchers at the University of Exeter.
  • 3. Demonstrate a practical understanding of how to develop a research project of the type appropriate for a 9k word undergraduate philosophy dissertation.
  • 4. Critically reflect on the challenges of conducting philosophical research.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Demonstrate a good understanding of the interrelation between philosophical questions/problems and the outputs of philosophical research projects.
  • 6. Demonstrate sound knowledge of different types of philosophical analysis.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Demonstrate an expanded philosophical vocabulary and understanding with respect to selected current themes and projects in philosophy.
  • 8. Engage in complex arguments both orally and through writing.
  • 9. Conduct research independently engaging with complex ideas and problems.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover topics such as:

  • Professor Colombetti on Scaffolded Emotions
  • Dr Currie on the Nature of the Past
  • Dr Guttinger on the Philosophy of Automation
  • Dr Roberts on Aesthetic Communities
  • Professor Toon on Mental Fictionalism
  • Dr Wilkinson on the Pathology of Hearing Voices

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching16.511 x 1.5-hours per week of lectures
Scheduled Learning and Teaching1111 x 1-hour per week of tutorials
Guided independent study44Preparation for lectures and tutorial participation including reading and preparing tutorial questions.
Guided independent study78.5Independent research for the research proposal and essay.

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Research proposal draft1000 words3-9Peer review

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Tutorial questions10500 words1-2, 5-7Written and oral
Research Proposal301000 words3-9Written
Essay602000 words1-2, 6-9Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Tutorial questionsReading report (500 words)1-2, 5-7Referral/Deferral Period
Research ProposalResearch Proposal (1000 words)3-9Referral/Deferral Period
Essay Essay (2,000 words)1-2, 6-9Referral/Deferral Period

Re-assessment notes

For obvious reasons, the tutorial question re-assessment cannot be the same as the original assessment and so this alternatives is set. In cases where the form of assessment is the same, the content will nevertheless be different.

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to redo the assessment(s) as defined above. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The reading list will vary each term depending on which lecturers/researchers are teaching the module. But readings will be set by individual lecturers/researchers and will be either their own work or other relevant papers. E.g.:

  • Toon A (2023). Mind As Metaphor a Defence of Mental Fictionalism, Oxford University Press. (A chapter or two)
  • Roberts T (2023). How to do things with deepfakes. Synthese, 201.
  • Currie, A (2023) Of Records & Ruins: Metaphors about the Deep Past. The Journal for the Philosophy of History.
  • Wilkinson S (In Press). Expressivism about Delusion Attribution. European Journal of Analytic Philosophy

Key words search

Philosophy, Dissertation, Research methods

Credit value15
Module ECTS


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date