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University of Edinburgh

Introduction to Philosophy

University of Edinburgh via Coursera


This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy.

Topics you’ll learn about will include:

Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it;

Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice;

Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained;

Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law;

Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and;

Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality.

The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre.

To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information.

Taught by

Dave Ward, Duncan Pritchard, Michela Massimi, Suilin Lavelle, Matthew Chrisman, Allan Hazlett and Alasdair Richmond


4.3 rating, based on 73 Class Central reviews

Start your review of Introduction to Philosophy

  • As someone in grad school whose first and only formal exposure to academic philosophy was a single introductory course in college, this course was extremely useful in helping me keep up with the general trends and concepts in the field. The readings and the optional lectures are impressively engaging; while the course lets you choose 1 of 2 options for the final weekly material, I highly recommend taking both for more learning.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be very easy.

    This a beginner-friendly course that introduces you to Philosophy and it's sub-disciplines. The lectures are mostly good and interested students can find further links to go into details of the topic being taught.
    The quizzes were extremely easy and this is something that I didn't like. I wouldn't say that you would be spending your time productively by attempting the quizzes. However, the peer-assessments were better and it will give you an opportunity to test yourself.

    Overall, I'd recommend this course to an absolute beginner and expect him or her to be familiar with Philosophy after he or she has completed the course.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course, spending 15 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    In my opinion, this MOOC offers a decent introduction to Philosophy for an absolute beginner. This MOOC is good for an absolute beginner who wants to get acquainted with Philosophy but may be a bit easy for an enthusiast.
    The contents of the MOOC lack detail for an enthusiast but I found the suggested links to the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy and the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy to make up for the lack of detail in the MOOC.
    Go for this MOOC if you want an easy and interesting introduction to Philosophy.
  • Bart

    Bart completed this course.

    It's a very easy course. It touches an assortment of topics followed up with some easy quizzes. Don't expect to get a complete history or overview. No in depth coverage of a certain philosopher or idea. I guess this course is meant to to wet your appetite for philosophy.

    The value of this course is in the proposed reading materials and the rather active fora. It's nice to discuss the philosophy topics on there with people who to a certain degree share the same a vocabulary given by the course.

    Great for beginners. Maybe too light or boring for people familiar with the subjects discussed.
  • Profile image for Candice Hincksman
    Candice Hincksman

    Candice Hincksman completed this course, spending 1 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This was a very easy course - not recommended if you are already familiar with concepts in philosophy. It was interesting yet didn't go beyond surface level investigations.
  • Profile image for Seeratpreet Kaur
    Seeratpreet Kaur
    i loved this course... uh all must try..!!!!!!! so so so much informative

    well explained and so calming and soothing
  • John completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    This is a great beginning course in philosophy. It was easy enough for anyone to understand and to become interested enough to want to study more philosophy. I especially like the last lecture on the logical aspects of time travel into the past. This would interest not only someone interested in philosophy or time travel, but also to the writer doing a science fiction novel.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I liked that the lectures were given by different professors all lecturing in their areas of specialization. The course seemed a little too easy, with the only requirement for a statement of accomplishment being passing each of the weekly quizzes. I really liked the final section on time travel.
  • Godswill Mkuma Isaac is taking this course right now.

    Wow...this is awesome my experience in life raise my pride so high that i know what philosophy is,but just at the introduction and defination of philosophy by a different lecturer on this web i knew i know nothing but need to humble myself and learn...which ever persons or group of people that put out this opportunities to us did a good job and we appreciated him/them thank you
  • Tetiana Vorobiova

    Tetiana Vorobiova completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    This course may not be an introduction per se, but it's clearly for beginners. It is well-structured. The lecturers have really simplified the concepts they talk about to make sure it's comprehensible for people with different learning paces. Although you need to audit roughly half the lectures and tests to pass, I've enjoyed going through 100% of available material.
  • Profile image for Pambili Sinxoto
    Pambili Sinxoto
    I absolutely enjoyed this course from University of Edinburgh. It covered the general overview of the Philosophy field that I needed. It gave me a fresh perspective of philosophy in general.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent introductory course- very suitable for those with no background in philosophy. Many participants annoyed by grade given as LOWEST mark achieved in multiple choice assessments!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Decent introductory course. I thought some material was covered better than others. On the plus side, the discussion forums were pretty active though.
  • Class Central user

    Class Central user completed this course, spending 2 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    It's not what I expected, but it is a great introduction to philosophy and to the fields of philosophy. Recommended!
  • Diego Riccardi completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be medium.

    It's a very good introductory course on philosophy, giving also good insights in the main contemporary philosophical issues and further readings.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Excellent course - facilitators actually mingled with participants. Clunky forum not fit for purpose though.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Good introductory course for a very difficult subject. Highly recommented.
  • Profile image for Abhijeet Krishnan
    Abhijeet Krishnan

    Abhijeet Krishnan completed this course, spending 3 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    A nice overview of the various schools of thought out there. The course doesn't go into too much depth, but it is structured in a way that makes sense - introducing a point of view and then offering counterarguments to that view. It certainly made me take more of an interest in philosophy. The assignments are not deep, however, and merely make you recall the course content.
  • Profile image for Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa
    Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa

    Hideki Diego Harada Oyakawa completed this course, spending 6 hours a week on it and found the course difficulty to be easy.

    Interesting and relevant content. The content was well structured and clear, so as presented in a way it could be easily understood. The tests are challenging enough to make you remember things but easy enough do pass without checking your notes. One of the best courses if you are starting with MOOCs.

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