Course Descriptions: First Public Examination (FPE)

Philosophy subjects in the First Public Examination (Prelims/Mods)

The following subjects are taken by students working towards the “First Public Examination”; a set of examinations usually taken in the first year which, if passed, permit the student to move on towards study for their final examinations, which culminate in the award of a degree. These exams are usually known as “Prelims” for all Philosophy joint schools except Classics, where they are called “Mods”. In Prelims, the only classifications possible are Distinction, Pass, and Fail; Mods are classified as for finals.

The Philosophy joint schools are: Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE); Literae Humaniores (Classics); Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics (PPL); Mathematics and Philosophy (MP); Physics and Philosophy (PP); Computer Science and Philosophy (CSP); Philosophy and Modern Languages (PML); and Philosophy and Theology (PT).

Compulsory for all schools except Classics, where it is available as an option

This course introduces students to formal work in propositional and predicate logic, through study of a dedicated text: The Logic Manual, by Volker Halbach (OUP). Students investigate the patterns of valid inference by means of the formal system set out in the text, and learn about the relationship between elements of the system and the types of argument and inference used in ordinary language. The course is intended both for those with an interest in logic who will undertake further work in it or related topics at finals, and for those who will not study it further but who will find the ability to understand formal expressions useful in their later study of philosophy.

Compulsory for all schools except Classics, where it is available as an option

General Philosophy introduces students to key topics in epistemology and metaphysics, including knowledge and scepticism, induction, mind and body, personal identity, free will,  and  God  and  evil.  Students approach these topics    in one of two ways: either using relevant sections from Descartes, Hume and Locke as a starting point, or by studying key contemporary writings on the topics.

Compulsory for PPE, PPL, PT and PML; available as an option for Classics

Moral Philosophy is studied in conjunction with J. S. Mill’s Utilitarianism and, by means of the study of Mill’s and contemporary versions of utilitarianism, introduces students to discussion of subjects such as happiness and pleasure, the criterion of right action, the role and foundation of moral principles, and justice.  

Compulsory for MP, PP, and CSP

Elements of Deductive Logic is a more advanced course in Logic taken by students in three of the Philosophy joint schools.  It builds on material covered for Introduction to Logic but goes significantly further.

Compulsory for MP, PP, CSP

Students in these schools study a set text that is of historical relevance to their school and which introduces them to philosophical topics pertinent to it. MP students read Frege’s Foundations of Arithmetic, PP students read the Leibniz-Clarke Correspondence, and CSP students read Turing’s papers on computable numbers, and “Computing Machinery and Intelligence”.

Available in Classics

Students taking Classics take one philosophy paper at Mods, which may be Introduction to Logic, General Philosophy, or Moral Philosophy, as above, but they can also choose from papers on (i) Plato, Euthyphro and Meno, (ii) Early Greek Philosophy (a course covering the pre-Socratic philosophers), and (iii) Lucretius, De Rerum Natura IV. These papers introduce Classics students to the study of ancient philosophy in its original language, an important preparation for the later Finals papers in ancient philosophy.