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Study information

Introduction to Philosophical Methods

Module titleIntroduction to Philosophical Methods
Module codePHLM010
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Adam Toon (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module will provide you with an introduction to the different methods pursued in philosophical research. It will also introduce you to the distinctive character of philosophical research at Exeter, especially its interdisciplinarity. Typical methods covered might include: conceptual analysis, naturalism, phenomenology, genealogy, experimental philosophy, historical, sociological and ethnographic approaches. You will learn to reflect critically on these different methods and explore their respective strengths and weaknesses. The module will equip you with a range of different tools for approaching philosophical questions and provide an excellent grounding for further research in philosophy.

Module aims - intentions of the module

The module aims to introduce you to a range of different philosophical methods. It also aims to encourage you to engage critically with those methods and learn how to apply these methods in your own research.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. Understand a range of different methods for approaching philosophical problems
  • 2. Analyse and evaluate those methods in a rigorous, informed and critical way
  • 3. Learn to employ a range of different methods in your own philosophical work

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. Appreciate the diversity of different methods used in philosophical research
  • 5. Critically and rigorously evaluate a range of different philosophical styles and approaches
  • 6. Reflect critically upon the relationship between philosophy and other disciplines

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. Engage in complex arguments verbally and in small groups
  • 8. Critically engage with written texts in a clear and rigorous way
  • 9. Present complex ideas to peers and respond to questions in a clear and respectful manner

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • Conceptual analysis
  • Naturalism
  • Phenomenology
  • Genealogy
  • Experimental philosophy
  • Historical, sociological and ethnographic approaches

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 Teaching Activities22The module will be taught as a series of 11 x two-hour seminars, organised around open-ended discussion of pre-assigned readings.
Guided Independent Study6611 x 6 hours for seminar readings
Guided Independent Study4Preparation of formative
Guided Independent Study104Reading for and writing of essay 1
Guided Independent Study104Reading for and writing of essay 2

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay plan100 words1-9Written

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
Essay 1503,700 words1-6, 8Written
Essay 2503,700 words1-6, 8Written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay 1 (3,700 words)1-6, 8August/September reassessment period
Essay 2Essay 2 (3,700 words)1-6, 8August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Cappelen, H., Gendler, T. S., & Hawthorne, J. (eds.) (2016). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Methodology. Oxford University Press.

Daly, C. (2010). An Introduction to Philosophical Methods. Broadview Press.

Haug, M. (2014). Philosophical Methodology: The Armchair or the Laboratory? Routledge.

Merleau-Ponty, M. (1962). The Phenomenology of Perception. Routledge. (1st published 1945)

Knobe, J. & Nicholds, S. (2008). Experimental Philosophy. Oxford University Press.

Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. Chicago University Press. (1st edition 1962)

Ryle, G. (1949). The Concept of Mind. Penguin.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy: 

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Key words search

Philosophical methods

Credit value30
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date