Show/hide main menu

Level 4

4AANA004 Metaphysics I


Credit value: 15
Module TutorProfessor Alexander Bird (first mini-term); Dr Fintan Mallory (second mini-term) 


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%)
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 1,500 word essay


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2-hour examination (100%) 
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 1,500 word essay

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

Teaching pattern: one two-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar over ten weeks.
Pre-requisites: none

Metaphysics concerns the basic features of reality, covering topics such as personal identity, free will, causation, the nature of time, and material constitution. This course will provide students with a survey of some of the main issues in metaphysics. An emphasis will be placed on critical examination of arguments for and against competing views. Students will have the opportunity to examine and develop their own positions on these issues. We will also consider more generally what metaphysics is and how it is best pursued.

Some sample questions we will tackle:

  1. What are we? What does it take for a person to persist over time?
  2. What does it take for a material object to persist over time?
  3. What is the nature of time? Can there be time without change?
  4. What is causation?
  5. Do we ever act freely?
  6. Is metaphysics worth pursuing? What is the best way to approach metaphysics? 

Further information

Module aims

The Metaphysics module aims to give students the intellectual equipment to investigate for themselves the issues mentioned in the module description above on the basis of careful reading and critical reflection upon the key writings in the area.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable, and practicable skills appropriate to a level 4 module and in particular they will have

  • developed a capacity for philosophical argument concerning central metaphysical topics
  • acquired a knowledge of some of the key philosophical writings concerning these topics
  • understood the nature of some of the central problems in metaphysics
  • encountered and evaluated a number of attempts to solve the philosophical problems under discussion
  • acquired an understanding of how problems in metaphysics relate to broader philosophical debates in areas of logic, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics
  • acquired an ability to relate the questions discussed to the work of philosophers studied in other modules
  • been encouraged to read with great care and reflect upon some difficult texts as well as introductory and secondary material

Past syllabi

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

Blank space

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 between years.

Sitemap Site help Terms and conditions  Privacy policy  Accessibility  Modern slavery statement  Contact us

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454