Philosophy MA/BSc/MA(SocSci)

History Of Modern Philosophy PHIL4016

  • 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 students to the epistemological and metaphysical theories of some key philosophers of the Early Modern/Enlightenment era. It will consider theories of human understanding in the light of the emergence of a 'science of human nature', as well as the competing conceptions of human rationality in play at the time.


16x1hr lectures, 4x1 hr seminars over 10 weeks as scheduled in MyCampus. This is one of the senior honours options in Philosophy. It may not run every year. Options running this year are available on MyCampus

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

The course aims to:  


■ introduce students to some key philosophical texts of the Early Modern era;

■ allow students to engage with important thinkers from the period on topics such as: the nature of the mind; the possibility of - and means of acquiring - knowledge; scepticism; the nature of reality; free will, and the study of human nature;

■ allow students to contextualise these texts in terms of the emerging 'science of human nature' and differing conceptions of human rationality and understanding.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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


■ Explain and critically evaluate the views of philosophers discussed in this course on topics such as: substance; freedom; causation; appearance and reality; the self; the nature and limits of knowledge; the nature of reality and the relation of the mind to the external world.

■ Understand and explain the main theses from historical texts from the Early Modern era;

■ Reconstruct charitably and evaluate critically arguments from historical texts;

■ Contextualise the philosophical theories of the era.

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.