PP1WRI-Writing the Philosophical Essay

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Summer term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2016/7

Module Convenor: Prof Maximilian De Gaynesford

Email: r.m.degaynesford@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
This module will provide students with the skills necessary to craft clear, well-structured, and persuasive academic writing that effectively communicates complex ideas.


Required readings will be posted online.


Harry Frankfurt, “On Bullshit” (available online)

This module will introduce students to the analysis and practice of academic writing through focused writing exercises, revision, and discussion. The writing seminars will extend and integrate substantive discussion from the Part 1 philosophy modules by using the discussions and assignments from those classes as a tool for the advanced study of philosophical writing. We will learn to construct sophisticated arguments that communicate complex arguments clearly and directly, and we will discuss both the limitations and the advantages of the analytic philosophical style. By subjecting their written work to peer-review in seminars, students will improve their ability to communicate by learning to anticipate the reactions of their audience and crafting essays that eliminate jargon and focus on evidence and argumentation.

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module you will understand:
•the strengths and weaknesses of the philosophical essay as a means of communication
•how to structure an essay to effectively express complex ideas and arguments
•how to use peer-review and revision to craft effective writing
•basic techniques for writing compelling essay introductions and conclusions
•a variety of contemporary and historical approaches to the philosophical essay
•how to integrate, revise, and deepen what you have learned and written in your previous philosophy modules

Additional outcomes:
You will also receive:
•the valuable transferrable skill of clear, compelling writing that communicates complex ideas
•preparation for writing essays in advanced philosophy modules

Outline content:
Schedule of topics to be covered:
7)Introductions and conclusions
8)Constructing arguments
9)Strategies for exegesis of philosophical texts
10)Integrating research into scholarly writing
11)Going beyond the short essay

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
Teaching will be by means of weekly workshops focused on writing exercises and discussion. Students will provide the raw material for writing exercises in the form of essays written for their previous part 1 philosophy modules. In the workshops, students will engage in peer-review, focused revision exercises, and intensive discussion of good writing practice.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Practicals classes and workshops 10
Guided independent study 90
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 60
Set exercise 40

Other information on summative assessment:

Formative assessment methods:
Peer-reviewed weekly writing exercises, both take-home and in-class

Penalties for late submission:

Penalties for late submission will be in accordance with University policy.
The Module Convenor will apply the following penalties for work submitted late, in accordance with the University policy.
  • where the piece of work is submitted up to one calendar week after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for the piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Length of examination:

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):
    1) Required text books:
    2) Specialist equipment or materials:
    3) Specialist clothing, footwear or headgear:
    4) Printing and binding:
    5) Computers and devices with a particular specification:
    6) Travel, accommodation and subsistence:

    Last updated: 6 January 2017

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