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Philosophy: The Great Thinkers (PHIL10003)

Undergraduate level 1Points: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)

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Year of offer2019
Subject levelUndergraduate Level 1
Subject codePHIL10003
Semester 2
FeesSubject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date

Philosophy has been called ‘the Queen of the Sciences’ and to this day the questions it poses are fundamental to disciplines across the university. In ‘Big Questions,’ you are introduced to the state-of-the-art problems in contemporary philosophy. But philosophy has a history, which invites us to consider how a discipline that attempts to arrive at fundamental truths can have so much difficulty finding agreement on issues of perennial concern: What am I essentially? What is truth? What is good? This course introduces students to fundamental debates in philosophy by revisiting the texts of great thinkers across history and cultures. The course begins by considering classical Greek thinkers from Plato to Aristotle before turning to the metaphysical issues raised in the Buddhist tradition. The second half of the course looks at two pillars of modern philosophy, Descartes and Kant, and will consider such issues as the nature of the self, the notion of beauty, and the place – or not – of divinity in nature. Since philosophy has a history, it remains an unfinished business. In this course students will learn how to evaluate philosophical arguments by reckoning with some of the greatest minds and most provocative claims in the history of the field.

Intended learning outcomes

Students who successfully complete this subject will:

  • appreciate aspects of what it means to be a human being through the study of central works in the philosophical traditions;
  • identify and define key philosophical concepts;
  • read historical texts with particular focus on the philosophical arguments that are presented in these texts;
  • interpret texts that were written in the history of philosophy;
  • write well-structured and well-argued short essays that accurately explain and critically assess philosophical views;
  • articulate their own responses to philosophical views, support them by reasons and defend them in light of criticism.

Eligibility and requirements





Non-allowed subjects


Core participation requirements

The University of Melbourne is committed to providing students with reasonable adjustments to assessment and participation under the Disability Standards for Education (2005), and the Assessment and Results Policy (MPF1326). Students are expected to meet the core participation requirements for their course. These can be viewed under Entry and Participation Requirements for the course outlines in the Handbook.

Further details on how to seek academic adjustments can be found on the Student Equity and Disability Support website: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/student-equity/home



  • An 800 word essay, due during the semester (20%)
  • A 1,200 word essay, due during the semester (30%)
  • A 2,000 take-home examination, due during the end of semester examination period (50%)

Hurdle requirement:

  • Students must attend a minimum of 75% of tutorials in order to pass this subject.
  • All pieces of written work must be submitted to pass this subject.

Note: Assessment submitted late without an approved extension will be penalised at 10% per day. After five days late assessment will not be marked. In-class tasks missed without approval will not be marked.

Dates & times

  • Semester 2
    Principal coordinatorKnox Peden
    Mode of deliveryOn Campus — Parkville
    Contact hours35 hours: 2 x1 hour lectures each week and 1 x 1 hour tutorial for 11 weeks
    Total time commitment170 hours
    Teaching period29 July 2019 to 27 October 2019
    Last self-enrol date 9 August 2019
    Census date31 August 2019
    Last date to withdraw without fail27 September 2019
    Assessment period ends22 November 2019

    Semester 2 contact information

Time commitment details

170 hours

Further information

  • Texts

    Prescribed texts

    Subject readings will be available on line

  • Breadth options
  • Available through the Community Access Program

    About the Community Access Program (CAP)

    This subject is available through the Community Access Program (also called Single Subject Studies) which allows you to enrol in single subjects offered by the University of Melbourne, without the commitment required to complete a whole degree.

    Entry requirements including prerequisites may apply. Please refer to the CAP applications page for further information.

  • Available to Study Abroad and/or Study Exchange Students

    This subject is available to students studying at the University from eligible overseas institutions on exchange and study abroad. Students are required to satisfy any listed requirements, such as pre- and co-requisites, for enrolment in the subject.

Last updated: 14 August 2019