Philosophy: A Beginners Guide

Ref: C2338912

The question what philosophy is and does is part of ‘doing philosophy’. This taster course covers different answers to this question : philosophy as a set of tools for clarifying concepts; as an aid to scientific inquiry ; as an approach to understanding human existence; as a system of thought; as a way to arrive at principles of government or rules for morality; as the search for meaning in life.

Course aim

To give an introductory overview of different ways of doing philosophy and to give learners the opportunity to practice thinking in those different styles

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is for beginners

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

  • give an overview account of at least three different interpretations of philosophy
  • explain in more detail what is distinctive about one interpretation
  • illustrate at least two contrasting interpretations of philosophy by identifying the questions each interpretation would typically ask about an issue the learners are interested in (or one suggested by the tutor)
  • identify some advantages and disadvantages of at least two contrasting interpretations of philosophy

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning
  • You may be asked to undertake additional work in your own time to support your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion
  • You will be encouraged to share your work with the group and discuss your learning
  • You will be encouraged to consider other students work and give your opinions and suggestions

What else do I need to know?

  • It would be helpful if you had access to the internet (Mobile phone, tablet or computer at home or through a library etc.)

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • Not expected but learners may wish to have a look at: Ben Dupre, 50 Philosophy Ideas you really need to know (Quercus) Julian Baggini, The Pig that wants to be eaten and 99 other thought experiments ( Granta 2006)

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course
  • Become involved with the WEA in a range of voluntary work and other activities including campaigning as a WEA member
  • Access the WEA What Next? booklet here
  • Nicholas Fearn, Philosophy. The latest Answers to the oldest Questions (2006) Stephen Law, The Philosophy Gym ( 2003) Mel Thompson, Philosophy in a Week (Teach Yourself series, 2011)

Download full Course information sheet

Philosophy: A Beginners Guide


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 2017
  • have read and accept the standard terms and conditions
Visa Credit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Debit payments supported by RBS WorldPay Visa Electron payments supported by RBS WorldPay Mastercard payments supported by RBS WorldPay Maestro payments supported by RBS WorldPay JCB payments supported by RBS WorldPay Solo payments supported by RBS WorldPay
RBS WorldPay Payments Processing