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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
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  • Semester 1Campus Attendance
  • Term Mode
  • Semester 1Campus Attendance



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

Philosophy is the conversation of humanity, concerning the 'biggest' and most important questions confronting us, through the use of rational inquiry. However, it is also a discipline that requires an accessible introduction to those coming to it for the first time. This unit introduces the student to philosophy through immersion in some central philosophical problems, and in the process provides 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.

Learning Outcome NumberLearning Outcome DescriptionRelevant Graduate Capabilities
LO1Describe some central problems of philosophyGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8
LO2Apply some key rules and principles of logic to argumentsGC1, GC3, GC7, GC8
LO3Analyse selected contemporary and/or historical philosophical debates, and develop reasoned responses to some key issuesGC1, GC2, GC4, GC9, GC11, GC12


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 collaborative learning and project-based learning approaches, combined with some direct instruction to ensure that unfamiliar concepts and theories are understood. The direct instruction, combined with class discussion, are important in order to ensure that the central philosophical problems explored in the unit are clearly identifed for and with students, without which the concepts, theories and debates will make little sense (LO1). Collaborative learning is a feature of tutorial discussions as students develop proficiency in the use of key concepts and terms, interpret and discuss together weekly readings, and start to develop their own perspectives on these issues. Tutorials are also a primary venue for practice and clarifications relating to logic and informal fallacies (LO2). The project-based aspect relates to the research project that students will engage in throughout the second half of the unit, culminating in their research essay. It is this activity that both helps students consolidate their understanding of the problems and theories explored (LO1 and LO3), as they also develop their own reasoned response or position on these matters (LO3). The research project also facilitates the development of students' nascent skills in philosophical research, including the location and use of library resources and the strengthening of their skills in producing coherent, well-structured and purposeful written and oral English expression. Again, tutorial demonstrations, exercises and discussions provide students with important support as they develop these skills.

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 making possible deeper engagement with one of the unit topics.

The early online logic quiz serves to reinforce students’ understanding and ability to deploy key principles of logic and critical thinking (LO2) 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 (LO1) concerning key questions, concepts and theories covered in the unit. This knowledge, as well as a series of important skills (LO2, LO3), and the ability to answer clearly and succinctly, are essential professional skills, as well as being crucial for further studies in philosophy.

Finally, the research essay task provides students with the opportunity to undertake further more focused philosophical reading and research, culminating in an extended piece of writing that develops a coherent central argument. This task not only requires students to work from a sound understanding of the philosophical problem being discussed (LO1), but also to demonstrate beginning skills in philosophical analysis and the development of a coherent position of the issue under investigation (LO2, LO3). Research library skills and communication skills are also examined (and further developed) by this task. These are essential skills for further work in philosophy and valuable for most other academic pursuits, especially in the Humanities.   

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning Outcomes

Online Test on Logic/ Critical Thinking

Requires students to demonstrate competency in basic critical thinking skills



End of Semester exam 

Requires students to describe key problems, explain key ideas, and apply them to sample texts


LO1, LO2

Research Essay

Requires students to analyse an important philosophical issue, and argue for a coherent position.


LO1, LO2, LO3

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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