Philosophy MA/BSc/MA(SocSci)

Consciousness: Brains, Artificial Intelligence, and Subjective Experience PHIL4067

  • 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

One of the great remaining mysteries, and maybe the most intractable, is consciousness: that intimately known but often indescribable qualitative character of experience: what it's like to see red, or feel pain, etc. In this course, we will examine the problem of consciousness and various contemporary scientific and philosophical theories of consciousness. We will end by asking about consciousness in animals and machines, and about the evolution of consciousness. 


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





Essay 1 (2,000 words) - 40%

Essay 2 (3000 words) - 60%

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 contemporary interdisciplinary study of consciousness

■ Examine key theories about the nature of phenomenal character

■ Offer students the opportunity to further develop skills as reading difficult and abstract texts and arguments

■ Provide students with  the opportunity to expand their reading and critical skills to other, less familiar disciplines

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ Articulate the central philosophical and scientific problems of consciousness

■ Critically evaluate prominent positions regarding consciousness in machines and non-human animals

■ Develop and defend a philosophical position related to the current debate on consciousness

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.