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Introduction to Ethics

Unit code: PHIL10021
Credit Rating: 20
Unit level: Level 1
Teaching period(s): Semester 1
Offered by Philosophy
Available as a free choice unit?: Y




The course aims to:

- introduce philosophical thinking about moral phenomena;
- present and clarify the basic terminology employed in exploring questions of morality;
- discuss some of the difficult issues raised in applied ethics;
- look at issues surrounding moral responsibility.


This course unit will examine some hard moral questions: Is it ever right to abort a foetus? Are we ever morally responsible for anything we do? Is it ever right to torture the innocent? Is morality relative to culture? By examining moral conundrums raised in applied ethics, normative ethics and metaethics, this course unit will provide an introduction to some central themes in moral philosophy.

Teaching and learning methods

2-hour lecture and one 1-hour tutorial per week

Learning outcomes

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

- an ability to identify some major standpoints in ethical theory;
- an ability to articulate cogent arguments on applied moral issues;
- an ability to write concisely, relevantly and analytically about the moral issues discussed in the course, both in an essay and under exam conditions.

Employability skills

  • Analytical skills
  • Group/team working
  • Innovation/creativity
  • Oral communication
  • Problem solving
  • Research
  • Written communication

Assessment methods

  • Written exam - 67%
  • Written assignment (inc essay) - 33%

Recommended reading

Oderberg, D. Applied Ethics, (Blackwell, 2000) chapters 1-2.
Gover, J. Utilitarianism and its Critics (Macmillian, New York, 1990).
LaFollette, H. (ed.) The Blackwell Guide to Ethical Theory, (Blackwell 2000), chapter 1- 2 & 9-12

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

  • Lectures - 20 hours
  • Tutorials - 10 hours
  • Independent study hours - 170 hours

Teaching staff

Ann Whittle - Unit coordinator

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