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Unit information: Epistemology in 2020/21

Unit name Epistemology
Unit code PHIL20009
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Professor. Okasha
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Philosophy
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Epistemology, or ‘the theory of knowledge’, is one of the central branches of philosophy, tracing back to ancient Greece. However our approach will be contemporary rather than historical: we will study key epistemological debates in 20th century analytic philosophy. Topics to be covered include the nature of knowledge and justification, scepticism and possible responses to it, internalist versus externalist theories of knowledge and justification, a priori knowledge, perception and perceptual knowledge, inductive reasoning, evidence and probability.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

(1) demonstrate detailed knowledge and in-depth understanding of the central debates and positions in epistemology

(2) demonstrate familiarity with the central literature on these debates and positions;

(3) demonstrate skills in the researching and written presentation of complex material, on these debates and positions, as appropriate to Level I,

(4) work together collaboratively with others to collectively present and explain technical material orally in a manner accessible to a wider audience.

Teaching details

Lectures, small group work, individual exercises, seminars and virtual learning environment.

Assessment Details

Formative: Collaborative group digital presentation designed to test [ILOs (1)-(4)] + Summative: 1 x 3000 word essay - 100% [designed to test ILOs (1)-(3)]

Reading and References

Dancy, Jonathan, Introduction to Contemporary Epistemology. Oxford: Blackwell, 1985.

Gettier, Edmund. “Is Justified True Belief Knowledge?” Analysis, 23, 121–123, 1963.

Steup, Matthias and Sosa, Ernest (eds.),Contemporary Debates in Epistemology, Oxford, Blackwell, 2005.