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Student and tutor module reviews

Postgraduate foundation module in philosophy

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  • Points: 60
  • Code: A850
  • Level: Postgraduate

Student reviews

Students contemplating postgraduate study in Philosophy for the first time could hardly hope for a more satisfying and intelligently planned course in A850. The academic demands of the course represent a definite, but hardly perceptible, transition from undergraduate to postgraduate work; and by the end of the course the student has been successfully introduced to the basic techniques and principles of academic research.

The topics studied in the course, such as Personhood, Folk Psychology, Freedom, etc. also possess the merit of tying-in thematically with those covered in undergraduate courses, thus enabling the student to engage with familiar subjects on a deeper level.

Altogether, then, a very enjoyable module which can usefully be studied either independently or as part of the Master's programme.

Stephen John Coote

Course starting: January 2011

Review posted: January 2012

In respect of the time demanded, the course is challenging and many of the required readings are difficult. One usual expectation with philosophy should therefore be emphasised - required multiple readings of required texts (i.e. there's a need to put the hours in - don't fall behind in your reading).

That said, the course content is engaging, fascinating, new and rewarding and yielded (for me) a satisfying learning year.

The downside (for 2009) was the course materials, (in contrast to course content) these were very poorly produced and not up to OU standard. Course materials need to assist with learning, not get in the way of it.

Gerald Dane

Course starting: January 2009

Review posted: December 2009

Intellectually demanding but inspiring and certainly my understanding was broadened and deepened. If you lean towards continental philosophy, or have a vague but unformed interest in the subject, it's a steep learning curve in formal/analytical philosophical methodology, no room for fuzzy thinking or idle conjecture here.

Online tuition was excellent and course materials well presented. Quite a volume of work to get through though and none of it is easy reading!

Give yourself time - you'll need it. Excellent course.

Kieron Corrigan

Review posted: January 2008

I enjoyed this course very much. The selected philosophy topics are well matched, the course material is very readable, and I found the TMAs fun to write. The workload is comparable to that of an undergraduate philosophy course.

My only criticism concerns the physical appearance of the course. Why not publish it as a pdf file, and as bound books (like AA308)? These bulky folders do not fit into normal bags and are impossible to carry around. Have some pity on OU students who have to work and travel!

Susanne Mathies

Course starting: January 2006

Review posted: January 2007

This was my first Philosophy course and I was very impressed by the course materials and the quality of comment on TMAs.

The workload is HEAVY and you really need to be prepared to devote at least 5 - 10 hours (sometimes more) per week to reading the course material. The study guides really help you as some of the readings are excruciatingly difficult and you'll need at lot of support to understand them fully. But they can be understood and when they are you really can appreciate the writings of arguably the most profound thinkers of the past 40 years.

If you did philosophy as an undergraduate you may be familiar with some of the areas covered, and some of the arguments, but if, like me, you didn't do philosophy before, you really need to be prepared to make a substantial time commitment to keep on top of the reading.

If you are preparing for the course, read the set book, Martinich's "Philosophical Writing" before you start. It gives you a very profound understanding of how to construct and defend an argument. Martinich's coverage of "How to write a philosophy essay" should calm any nerves as the first TMA approachs. Martinich will be a constant companion on the course so get to know him well before you start.

Comments on the TMA's were extensive and probing. As the course progressed writing them became like conducting a dialogue. Tutor's comments should really assist you in refining your arguments, and your philosophical writing style, once you get over the first TMA.

Final piece of advice. Use the various online resources for this course to the fullest extent possible, as this is both useful research experience and also important, I believe, in scoring well on TMAs.

Would I recommend this course? Definitely. But with the qualification that it represents a substantial commitment and is more of a "90" point course than the 60 points listed in the description.

Course starting: January 2005

Review posted: December 2005

I enjoyed this, my first OU course and my first ever philosophy course; my first and last degree was in computing about 30 years ago at a conventional university. I think the course requirements got it about right; previous study of philosophy would be helpful, but isn't essential if you have a fairly logical mind.

I got a lot out of doing it. I've learned to read properly, well better anyway. I've acquired an appreciation of and interest in political philosophy and ethics. The material on what makes persons different was particularly relevant to me as my parents suffered ill health that affected their mental abilities.

My primary interests are philosophy of mind, language and epistemology. There is some course content relevant to philosophy of mind, but little on language and epistemology. I still consider the course worth studying.

My main disappointment was that there was little philosophical discussion amongst the students. My tutor group conferences were pretty quiet. I believe that there is much to be gained by interaction amongst the students. If you do this course, bear this in mind. Take the risk of saying something; there is much to be gained by promoting constructive discussion.

Brian McBride

Course starting: February 2004

Review posted: January 2005

In general the on-line chat rooms contain very little of philosophical significance. Remember that marks are awarded for the quality of one's TMAs etc., and NOT for being the "life and soul of the party" on-line.

Having unfashionable or unpopular views can lead to one being marginalised in the chat rooms. This, of course, can be discouraging. BUT remember that it is NOT your performance in the chat rooms that is actually examined.

Brendan Burke

Course starting: February 2002

Review posted: January 2005

Fascinating and stimulating module, with plenty of guidance from course materials at this stage. Not impossible to tackle virtually from scratch, but quite a challenge.

Course starting: February 2002

Review posted: December 2004

This course is an excellent introduction to postgraduate study in philosophy.

It speedily presents arguments in a number of areas of interest to current researchers. These different topics [personal identity, questions in political philosophy and philosophy of mind] are not, however, entirely disconnected. They all relate to the concept of the person and its various interpretations in modern analytic philosophy.

If you've studied philosophy at undergraduate level and are still interested then it's definitely worth doing.

Ann Mills

Course starting: February 2002

Review posted: November 2004

Please note

Each of the views expressed above is an individual's very particular response, largely unedited, and should be viewed with that in mind. Since modules are subject to regular updating, some of the issues identified may have already been addressed. In some instances the faculty may have provided a response to a comment. If you have a query about a particular module, please contact your Regional Centre.

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Module satisfaction survey

The figures below are taken from a survey of students who sat the exam/completed the end-of-module assessment for the February 2013 presentation of A850. The survey was carried out in 2014. 64.6% of our students responded to the survey covering what they thought of 10 aspects of the module. See this page for the full text of questions and more information about the survey.

Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of this module 92.2 %
Overall, I am satisfied with my study experience 92.3 %
The module provided good value for money 64 %
I was satisfied with the support provided by my tutor/study adviser on this module 88.7 %
Overall, I was satisfied with the teaching materials provided on this module 84.6 %
The module met its stated learning outcomes 86.5 %
I would recommend this module to other students 88.2 %
The module met my expectations 90.4 %
I enjoyed studying this module 94.2 %
Overall, I was able to keep up with the workload on this module 96.1 %
Faculty comment: "As part of our continuous review of the modules that form the MA, we are pleased to note the high percentage of students who enjoyed A850, and the fact that so many would recommend the module to others. We are concerned that a relatively low number of people perceived it as good value for money; this is partly for factors out of the module team’s control (the cost of MAs) but it has been noted and will inform our thinking when we ‘remake’ the MA over the next few years."
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