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Hume's Empiricism - PHI00081I

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Keith Allen
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This module explores the theoretical philosophy of David Hume (1711-1776). The primary text for the module is Hume's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, which covers issues relating to the nature of the mind, inductive reasoning, causation, liberty and necessity, religious belief and scepticism.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21

Module aims

  • To introduce the key ideas in Hume’s philosophy, including impressions and ideas, the problem of induction, causation, liberty and necessity, religious belief, scepticism.
  • To develop student’s ability to read difficult texts with sensitivity, in respect of both interpretive and philosophical issues.
  • To develop students’ abilities to improve their own work—e.g. by making good use of feedback

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

—understand and explain a range of key problems, issues, and debates in Hume's philosophy and express this understanding in clear, precise, and accessible terms

—develop and articulate ranges of alternative solutions to problems and issues in Hume's philosophy in an open-minded way, drawing on module materials

—develop and articulate arguments for the alternative solutions considered in relation to problems and issues in Hume's philosophy, drawing on module materials, identifying some points of weakness and some potential points for development

—make a judgement about what is the best view on a particular problem in Hume's philosophy and argue in defence of this judgement

—identify some of their strengths and weaknesses by evaluating their own work in relation to departmental marking criteria

—apply simple strategies for improving their work, based on critical reflection, advice, and feedback

—demonstrate informed sensitivity to cultural and historical context in interpreting and responding to the work of others


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Hume's Empiricism
N/A 30

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Essay 2500 words
N/A 70
Online Exam - 24 hrs (Centrally scheduled)
Hume's Empiricism
N/A 30

Module feedback

Feedback on formative work will be returned within 2 weeks of submission, and by the end of term at the latest. Feedback on summative work will be returned within 4 weeks of the assessment deadline.

Indicative reading

Ayer, A.J. 2000. Hume: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford)

Brown, Charlotte and Morris, William. 2012. Starting with Hume (Bloomsbury)

Hume, D. 1739-40. A Treatise of Human Nature, eds. D.F. Norton and M.J. Norton (Oxford, 2000).

Hume, D. 1748. An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding, ed. T. Beauchamp (Oxford, 2000) .

Norton, D.F. 1993. ‘An Introduction to Hume’s Thought’ in D.F. Norton ed. The Cambridge Companion to Hume (Cambridge)

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.