Philosophy: Ethics in the World Today

Ref: C2418040

This is a chance to explore moral questions, from war to sexuality, food to euthanasia. The course will help you to judge questions for yourself and to understand contrasting views of ethics.

Course aim

To help participants to understand different approaches to ethics and to apply them to a range of political issues and moral decisions.

Who is the course for?


What topics will this course cover

Most sessions will look at a particular ethical issue. Likely topics include war and peace, use of money, sexuality, abortion, the treatment of animals and religious liberty. We will look at how ethical issues are discussed in the media, politics and everyday life. We will explore the different approaches to ethics developed by philosophers, including duty-based ethics, consequentialist ethics and virtue ethics. The emphasis will always be on applying these to concrete issues and real decisions, rather than purely theoretical discussion.

What will it be like?

WEA classes are friendly and supportive. You will be encouraged to work together with your fellow students and tutor. You will be asked to share your ideas and views in the class and work with the group to give and accept feedback in a supportive environment. The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you to be actively involved in your learning. You may be asked to undertake work to support your course outside of your class.

By the end of the course I should be able to:

1. Discuss the ethical questions around a number of contemporary social and political controversies, such as war, sexuality and meat-eating. 2. Explain the basics of the main philosophical approaches to ethics, including duty-based ethics, consequentialist ethics and virtue ethics. 3. Identify the ethical principles behind arguments made in the media and elsewhere. 4. Identify their preferred approaches to ethics and apply them more clearly when forming opinions or making decisions.

How will I know I'm making progress?

Ongoing discussion will help you to see how your understanding is developing. The tutor will comment informally on progress during sessions and is happy to provide individual feedback after sessions or by email if requested.

What else do I need to know, do or bring?

None, although it may be helpful to bring a notebook and pen.

Reading and information sources

No reading is required. You may find it helpful to keep an eye on the news as we will be discussing contemporary issues, but please do not worry if you do not have much time for this.

What could the course lead to?

We hope that the skills and knowledge you gain will help you when forming political judgements and making ethical decisions. The tutor will provide suggestions for further study for those who are interested.

Download full course outline

Philosophy: Ethics in the World Today Course Outline


You can if you meet all of the following requirements:

  • are paying the standard fee or are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • are paying with a credit/debit card or are not paying a fee because of a qualifying benefit
  • have a valid email address
  • have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2015
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
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