Please note: there may be some adjustments to the teaching arrangements published in the course catalogue for 2020-21. Given current circumstances related to the Covid-19 pandemic it is anticipated that some usual arrangements for teaching on campus will be modified to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff on campus; further adjustments may also be necessary, or beneficial, during the course of the academic year as national requirements relating to management of the pandemic are revised.

Pain and Pleasure PHIL4060

  • Academic Session: 2022-23
  • 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
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

The focus of this course is affective experience, the phenomenon of certain experiences (such as pain) feeling bad or good. Affective experience is the focus of increasing philosophical and scientific attention. It poses numerous questions across a range of philosophical areas (and beyond), from philosophy of mind and psychology to value theory.


16x1hr lectures and 4x1hr seminars as scheduled on 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 who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses





Exam (90 minutes duration) - 40%

Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Short written pieces (2x500 words) - 20%

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:

■ Allow students to gain a detailed knowledge and understanding of debates concerning affective experience;

■ Allow students to explore the nature of affect and particular affective experiences, e.g. pain or pleasure;

■ Encourage students to develop analytical and critical skills, by considering and developing key arguments and positions.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

 Formulate clearly, and explain, the key philosophical theories of affect and of affective experiences such as pain and pleasure

 Assess the strengths and weaknesses of the key philosophical approaches to affect and to affective experiences such as pain and pleasure

 Critically assess debates about the relationship between (on the one hand) affect and affective experiences, and (on the other) representational content, perception, evaluation, desire, motivation, and action

D certain anomalous cases (such as phantom limb cases, pain insensitivity, pain asymbolia, masochism, and anhedonia) and explain their theoretical significance

 Articulate complex arguments in clear, written form.

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