PP1ML-The Meaning of Life

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 20 [10 ECTS credits]
Level:4
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Pre-requisites:
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Co-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Module version for: 2017/8

Module Convenor: Dr James Andow

Email: j.andow@reading.ac.uk

Summary module description:
What is the meaning of life? This is perhaps the most important philosophical question we can ask. But what is the answer? Indeed, what is the question really asking? In this module, we seek the answers. Along the way will consider a series of fascinating questions which promise to enlighten our understanding of ourselves and our place in the world. What makes life worth living? Does evolution render life meaningless? Is there no reason to fear death? Could life in an artificial reality be more meaningful in the real world? Live fast and die young, or live slower and die older? This module investigates diverse perspectives on the meaning of life from different Cultures, Religions, and Philosophies, as well as from fields such as Health Care, Psychology, Biology and Economics.

Reading:

Required readings will be posted online.

Recommended:

Office Space (1999) (director Mike Judge) (film)
Groundhog Day (1993) (director Harold Ramis) (film)
The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy (Douglas Adams) (BBC radio show: listen to at least the first four episodes)

Aims:
Students will gain an understanding of different perspectives on the meaning of life. A mix of lectures, guest speakers, class discussions, online content, assignments, feedback and structured reading will be used to enable you to reflectively and critically engage with these perspectives. In discussions and in your assignments, you will have the chance to develop, explain and defend your own understanding of the meaning of life. The ideas you engage with on this course provide an excellent introduction to many foundational issues across many topics in philosophy, as they include important topics in Ethics, Biomedical Ethics, Environmental Ethics, Philosophy of Religion, Political Philosophy, and many others. Moreover, the ideas you engage with in this course, and the reflective and critical thinking skills you develop in the process, will be important not just in your other modules, but throughout the rest of your life!

Assessable learning outcomes:
By the end of the module you will:
• Understand a variety of perspectives on the meaning of life, including perspectives from outside of philosophy and from different philosophical traditions.
• Understand a number of foundational topics in philosophy and particularly value theory.
• Be able to identify and critically engage with different perspectives on the meaning of life.
• Developed your ability to locate, assemble and analyse information on the subject through your own research, using a variety of sources.
• Developed your ability organize material and articulate arguments effectively, both orally and in writing.
• Developed your ability to work effectively in groups to research and present collective findings using appropriate technologies.

Additional outcomes:
The module aims to:
• Develop critical and reflective thinking skills
• Develop independent study skills such as use and selection of sources
• Develop an awareness of virtues of collaborating across disciplinary boundaries through encountering the ways that philosophical ideas play a role in many areas such as psychology and medicine, and the ways that input from other fields can help us make progress in answering philosophical questions.

Outline content:
This module address the issue of the meaning of life from a number of different perspectives. We will begin by consider some of the different ways we might interpret the question before moving on to consider a series of answers. All discussion will be grounded in real world examples and issues.

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:
This module address the issue of the meaning of life from a number of different perspectives. We will begin by consider some of the different ways we might interpret the question before moving on to consider a series of answers. All discussion will be grounded in real world examples and issues.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 20
Seminars 10
Guided independent study 170
       
Total hours by term 200.00
       
Total hours for module 200.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 70
Oral assessment and presentation 20
Class test administered by School 10

Other information on summative assessment:
Essay 1: 30%
Essay 2: 40%

Formative assessment methods:
• Online activities (e.g., quizzes, short writing assignments).
• Peer assessment of essay plans.

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:
    N/A

    Requirements for a pass:
    A mark of 40% overall.

    Reassessment arrangements:
    Written Examination only; lasting 2 hours, requiring answers to 2 questions (August / September)

    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: 14 September 2017

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