Credit points


Campus offering

No unit offerings are currently available for this unit



Teaching organisation

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment.

Unit rationale, description and aim

This unit introduces the student to philosophy through immersion in some central philosophical problems, and in the process providing a grounding in basic philosophical method. Key problems and debates are sketched focusing on the areas of metaphysics, epistemology and critical thinking. Selected other 'big philosophical questions' are also introduced, drawing on fields such as the philosophy of religion, philosophical anthropology and value theory. The emphasis throughout is on student engagement with the issues.

The unit aims to assist students to develop an understanding of key philosophical concepts and theories that allow them to reflect on their beliefs and assumptions, and to engage with the views of others. It also looks to enhance students' skills in critical reflection on experience, the analysis of arguments, and the formulation and communication of coherent positions of their own.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - identify and demonstrate comprehension of some central problems of philosophy (GA5); 

LO2 - analyse and discuss selected contemporary and/or historical philosophical debates, and develop reasoned responses to some key issues (GA4; GA8); 

LO3 - demonstrate beginning skills in philosophical research, including the use of library resource retrieval systems suitable for philosophy, and coherent use of philosophically effective English expression (GA5; GA9; GA10).  

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include:

  • Metaphysical questions: e.g., How are mind and world related?; What is time?;  
  • Epistemological questions: e.g., Is all knowledge subjective?; What is truth?;
  • Informal logic and critical thinking: bad arguments (informal fallacies); forms of worthwhile argument (basic inductive and deductive logic);

In addition, a selection from the following topics:

  • Being human: e.g., What is the basis of the self? Am I my mind? Am I really free?;
  • Religious Belief: e.g., Is God’s existence rationally demonstrable?
  • Society and political life: e.g., Do we need governments? What is a just society? 
  • Metaethics: e.g., Is morality eventually up to the individual?
  • Great questions of life: e.g. the meaning of life, mortality.   

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit involves 150 hours of focused learning, or the equivalent of 10 hours per week for 15 weeks. The total includes formally structured learning activities such as lectures, tutorials, and online learning. The remaining hours typically involve reading, research, and the preparation of tasks for assessment. The unit has been designed as a blend of a blend of collaborative learning and project-based learning approaches, combined with direct instruction to introduce and draw out new and unfamiliar concepts and theories. The collaborative context of the unit is focused especially on the weekly tutorial, during which the emphasis is on small group discussion of the weekly readings, and some smaller group work especially around skills in logical argument and critical thinking. The project-based aspect relates to the research project on which students work throughout the second half of the unit, culminating in their research essay. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The assessment strategy for this introductory unit in philosophy is designed to facilitate broad engagement with what for many students will be a new field of study, while also requiring deeper engagement with one of the unit topics. The early critical thinking online quiz serves to reinforce students’ understanding and ability to deploy key principles of logic and critical thinking that are crucial for philosophical analysis and valuable skills for a range of other academic and professional pursuits. The end of semester exam looks to assess students’ acquisition of a broad philosophical knowledge base concerning key questions, concepts and theories covered in the unit. Finally, the research essay task provides students with the opportunity to undertake further reading and conduct some research, leading to an extended piece of formal writing that develops a coherent argument in response to an important philosophical question. These are essential skills for further work in philosophy and valuable for most other academic pursuits, especially in the Humanities. The hurdle task is designed to ensure a timely start to this research, as well as providing a formal means for students to gain early feedback on how their work is tracking relative to the learning objectives of the research essay task.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Online Test on Logic/ Critical Thinking

Requires students to demonstrate critical thinking skills


1, 2

GA5; GA9

End of Semester exam 

Requires students to demonstrate knowledge base acquisition


1, 2

GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9 

Research Essay

Requires students to demonstrate an appropriate knowledge base and skills in research and argument development.


1, 2, 3

GA1; GA4; GA5; GA8; GA9. 

Hurdle Task:1 page Research Essay Plan & Bibliography 




Representative texts and references

Blackburn, S. (2013). Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Brook, A, Stainton, R.J., (2000). Knowledge and Mind: A Philosophical Introduction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Descartes, R. (2008). Meditations on First Philosophy. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Falzon, C. (2015). Philosophy Goes to the Movies: An Introduction to Philosophy. 3rd ed. New York: Routledge.

Harrison-Barbet, A. (2001). Mastering Philosophy. London: Macmillan.  

Mitchell, H. (2002). Roots of Wisdom. Belmont CA: Wadsworth.

Morton, A. (2004). Philosophy in Practice: An Introduction to the Main Questions. 2nd ed. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. 

Nagel, T. (2004). What Does It All Mean? Oxford: Oxford University Press. 

Perry, J. et al. (eds). (2019). Introduction to Philosophy: Classical and Contemporary Readings. 9th ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Warburton, N. (2013). Philosophy: The Basics. 5th ed. London: Routledge.

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