Philosophy MA/BSc/MA(SocSci)

Contemporary Ethics PHIL4004

  • 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

This course introduces the student to some leading contemporary theories in normative ethics.


16x1hr lectures; 4x1hr seminars over 10 weeks 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.

Excluded Courses





Exam (90 minutes) - 40%

Essay (2000 words) - 40%

Short written piece (1000 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:

■ Examine issues in contemporary normative theory,

■ Focus on a thematic case study in the literature (e.g. virtue theory, feminist ethics or moral particularism) and the metaethical, normative and applied issues it raises.

■ Engage in what is Normative Ethics, How do we determine what is right?

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Analyse and critically evaluate recent versions of consequentialism, virtue ethics, and their competitors and variants

■ Explain and critically explain the bearing of epistemological issues on ethics

■ Engage critically with such recent writers on these issues.

■ Understand and engage critically with a number of interrelated topics concerning what relation an inquiry into practical moral wisdom has to do with philosophical normative theory.

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.