Philosophy MA/BSc/MA(SocSci)

Causation PHIL4066

  • 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 explores one of the central topics of metaphysics: causation. It takes the historical, recent, and state-of-the-art developments in theorising about causation, and relates it to a range of other topics in philosophy, and in the wider world. Students will learn to critically engage with up-to-date professional texts, and to apply their understanding on this topic to their other courses, and, for some, to their future work. 


16x1hr lectures and 4x1hr seminars as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Philosophy and may not run every year. 

Excluded Courses





Exam (1-hour duration) - 30%

Essay (2,500 words) - 50%

Two Reflections (500 words each) - 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. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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 key concepts and positions within the philosophy of causation. 

■ Provide students the opportunity to engage with contemporary debates, and exercise their critical reasoning skills. 

■ Illuminate different methodological approaches within metaphysics, and the inter-connected nature of different metaphysical debates. 

■ Equip students with an enriched understanding of a key concept within modern analytic philosophy. 

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Explain the conceptual role of causation in debates around epistemology, perception, ontology, ethics, and the law.

■ Critically assess, explain, and critically assess the counterfactual theory of causation and the modal metaphysics behind it

■ Compare and contrast the contrastive and interventionist theories of causation.

■ Critically assess the distinction between causation and causal explanation in light of the methodologies deployed in contemporary debates around causation.

■ Identify controversial causal assumptions in the wider philosophical literature outwith metaphysics.

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.