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Module descriptions

7AAN2011 Ethics


Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Dr Maria Alvarez


  • Summative assessment: one two-hour exam (100%)
  • Formative assessment: two 1,500–2,000-word essays


  • Summative assessment: one two-hour exam (100%)
  • Formative assessment: two 1,500–2,000-word essays

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.
Additional information: none
Pre-requisites: none
Sample syllabus: 7AAN2011 module syllabus 2016-17.

The course has two parts The first part will focus on theories about the relationship between moral judgements, reasons and motivation. The second part will cover contemporary views about the nature of, and grounds for, moral responsibility.

Further information

Module Aims

To examine a number of core areas of ethics, with the aim of fostering a deeper understanding of key questions, texts, and theories.

Learning Outcomes

Through the study of this module, students will acquire:

  • An advanced understanding of the central claims, arguments, problems and solutions to be found in contemporary discussions of these topics.
  • In addition, the module will help students to develop their abilities to interpret, synthesise and criticise complex texts and positions;
  • Present and critically assess ideas in a clear and rigorous way;
  • Undertake, with appropriate guidance, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
Past syllabi

7AAN2011 module syllabus 2012-13 (pdf)
7AAN2011 module syllabus 2013-14 (pdf)
7AAN2011 module syllabus 2014-15 (pdf)
7AAN2011 module syllabus 2015-16 (pdf)

Please note that module syllabus and topics covered may vary from year to year.

More detailed information on the current year’s module (including the syllabus for that year) can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff. 

Core reading

Boyd, Richard, 2006, ‘How to Be a Moral Realist’ in Foundations of Ethics: An Anthology, ch. 13. Russ shafer-Landau and Terence Cuneo (eds), Blackwell.

Frankfurt, Harry. 1969 ‘Alternate Possibilities and Moral Responsibility’, The Journal of Philosophy , Vol. 66, No. 23, pp. 829-839. 

Frankfurt, Harry. 1971. ‘Freedom of the Will and the Concept of a Person’ The Journal of Philosophy , Vol. 68, No. 1, pp. 5-20. 

Nagel, E., 1979, ‘Moral Luck’ in his Mortal Questions, CUP, ch.3.

Shafer-Landau, Russ. 2000. ‘A Defense of Motivational Externalism’, Philosophical Studies, 97,pp. 267-291.

Smith, M., 1987, ‘The Humean Theory of Motivation’, Mind: 36–61.

Stevenson, Charles. 1937. ‘The Emotive Meaning of Ethical Terms’, Mind 46, pp. 14-31.

Strawson, Peter.   2008 ‘Freedom and Resentment’, in his Freedom and Resentment and Other Essays, Routledge, pp. 1-28.

Wallace, R.J., 2006, ‘Moral Motivation’, in J. Dreier (ed.), Contemporary Debates in Moral Theory, Malden, MA: Blackwell, 182–196.

Williams, B., 1981, “Internal and External Reasons”, in Moral Luck, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Williams, B., ‘Moral Luck’ in his Moral Luck, 1981 (CUP), ch.2. 

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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