Epistemology PHIL4011

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Humanities
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

In this course we will critically assess a number of alternative theories of knowledge. These include the tripartite theory, defeasibility theories, relevant alternatives theories and contextualist theories. We will also examine debates over radical scepticism and the range of solutions to sceptical paradoxes, as well as covering disputes about the nature of epistemic justification, such as dispute between foundationalism and coherentism and between internalism and externalism.


16x1hr lectures, 4x1hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Philosophy and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Philosophy, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes.

Excluded Courses





Exam (2 hour duration) - 60%

Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:


■ introduce students to a number of major issues in the Theory of Knowledge (Epistemology); 

■ familiarize students with the main positions and arguments within each topic; 

■ enable the students to deploy these arguments for themselves. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course, students will be able to: 


■ expound, assess and critically engage in contemporary debates on the definition of knowledge;

■ expound, assess and critically engage in contemporary debates on scepticism about knowledge;

■ expound, assess and critically engage in contemporary debates on Internalist versus Externalist, and Foundationalist versus Coherentist Theories of Justification;

■ expound and discuss approaches to the problem of induction.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.