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Level 7

7AAN2039 Kant I: Critique of Pure Reason


Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Dr Jessica Leech


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000–3,000-word essay

Teaching pattern: one one-hour weekly lecture and one one-hour weekly seminar
Pre-requisites: none
Sample syllabus: Please see the Past syllabi section below for an indication of the syllabus for this module.

This course will introduce Kant’s philosophy through an examination of epistemological and metaphysical topics in the Critique of Pure Reason, arguably one of the most influential philosophical works ever written. Kant complains that philosophy has lost its way, making no progress, but degenerating into endless debates that no one can win. His proposal is to investigate the power and limits of our capacity for representation and knowledge, in order to find out to what extent it is even possible for us to engage in pursuits such as metaphysics. Out of this develops Kant’s transcendental idealism, and his treatment of the problems of traditional metaphysics (the nature and existence of the soul, the cosmos, and God). Kant’s work in the Critique has had a great impact. It has helped to shape many philosophical projects and perspectives. Whether critic or follower, countless philosophers have seen Kant as a crucial point of departure for their own views.

This course will involve a detailed study of Kant’s arguments in the Critique of Pure Reason. We will undertake a close reading of the text itself alongside some of the most important secondary literature. We will explore key themes such as the nature of space and time, causation, transcendental arguments, freedom, the nature of judgment and the existence of God.

Further information

Module aims
  • To gain an understanding of the core elements in the thought of a key thinker in Western Philosophy 
  • To secure a grasp of the particular Kantian reformulation of traditional metaphysics
  • To see the continuing relevance of Kant’s approach to contemporary debates
  • To be able to critically assess Kant’s claims in the light of contemporary theories
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, the students will be able to demonstrate intellectual, transferable and practicable skills appropriate to a level-7 module and in particular will be able to demonstrate that they have:

  • a grasp of the core aspects of Kant’s epistemological and metaphysical thought
  • an ability to think critically about the role of Kant’s transcendental idealism in the context of the history of philosophy
  • an understanding of a crucial but difficult primary text in the history of philosophy
  • an ability to demonstrate the nature of key interpretive controversies relating to Kant’s theoretical philosophy
  • an ability to ascertain the relation of Kant’s thought to contemporary philosophical problems 
Past syllabi

7AAN2039 module syllabus 2012-13 (pdf)
7AAN2039 module syllabus 2013-14
7AAN2039 module syllabus 2014-15 
7AAN2039 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

I. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason. Cambridge Edition, translated by Paul Guyer and Allen Wood.

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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