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Postgraduate foundation module in philosophy

This module aims to equip you with postgraduate-level skills including critical analysis, argumentation and clarity of thought and expression. It’s also designed to acquaint you with some contemporary debates in philosophy, around the theme of personhood. You’ll learn to recognise a philosophical problem, find and use resources (in libraries and electronically), read philosophical texts and present your arguments clearly in essays. You’ll also receive guidance on the use of libraries and aids to research such as bibliographic databases – employing the excellent facilities that we offer to all our students. There will be opportunities to engage in online tuition and discussion.


A850 is a compulsory module in our:

A850 is an optional module in our:

If you leave the MA in Humanities programme before obtaining your masters degree this module will qualify you for a Postgraduate Certificate. With another 60 credits from specified modules, including at least 30 credits from subject modules, you can obtain a Postgraduate Diploma.

Some postgraduate qualifications allow study to be chosen from other subject areas. We advise you to refer to the relevant qualification descriptions for information on the circumstances in which this module can count towards these qualifications because from time to time the structure and requirements may change.


Module code


  • Credits measure the student workload required for the successful completion of a module or qualification.
  • One credit represents about 10 hours of study over the duration of the course.
  • You are awarded credits after you have successfully completed a module.
  • For example, if you study a 60-credit module and successfully pass it, you will be awarded 60 credits.
Study level
OU Postgraduate
Study method
Distance learning
Find out more in Why the OU?
Module cost
See Module registration
Entry requirements

Find out more about entry requirements.

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What you will study

The skills developed by this postgraduate foundation module for the MA in Humanities will prepare you particularly well for further study of philosophy in the MA programme, but will be an advantage in whatever you choose to do afterwards.

The module comprises an introduction followed by five chapters, each considering an area of contemporary philosophy to do with the theme of personhood. The philosophy is broadly in the analytic tradition. Each chapter is linked to a selection of readings. Engaging with these will encourage critical thinking, enquiry, and the formulation of your own view of the debate. You will then be able to advocate and defend it in the written assessment.

The module software offers you email contact with your tutor and fellow students, if you want it, and links to the Open University library and to online forums offering guidance and support. You will also have access to philosophical journals and to The Philosopher’s Index, a philosophical database. Extensive support is available, so you should not have difficulties even if you have never used a computer before. You do not need to own a computer, but you are expected to have regular access to one.

Normally you’ll need to have completed this module in order to progress to The philosophy dissertation (A857).

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

You will have a tutor who will help you with the study material and mark and comment on your written work, and whom you can ask for advice and guidance. You can contact your tutor by email and there will be an online forum for discussion and general enquiries.

Contact us if you want to know more about study with The Open University before you register.


The assessment details can be found in the facts box above.

You will be expected to submit your tutor-marked assignments (TMAs) online through the eTMA system unless there are some difficulties which prevent you from doing so. In these circumstances, you must negotiate with your tutor to get their agreement to submit your assignment on paper.

Course work includes

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
No residential school

Course satisfaction survey

See the satisfaction survey results for this course.

Future availability

The details given here are for the module that starts in February 2016 for the final time.


As a student of The Open University, you should be aware of the content of the Module Regulations and the Student Regulations which are available on our Essential documents website.

Entry requirements

To take this module, you must declare the MA in Philosophy (F30) (or another qualification towards which this module can count) as your qualification intention. You should have an honours degree or equivalent, ideally, but not necessarily, in philosophy. Your subject knowledge and study skills must be adequate for study at this level. The MA website offers detailed information about the topics discussed in the module, preparatory reading, and important advice if you are new to philosophy. You can also speak to an adviser.


Start End England fee Register
30 Jan 2016 Oct 2016 £1840.00

Registration closes 11/12/15 (places subject to availability)

February 2016 is the final start date for this course. For more information, see Future availability.

Additional costs

Study costs

There may be extra costs on top of the tuition fee, such as a laptop, travel to tutorials, set books and internet access.

Ways to pay

We know there’s a lot to think about when choosing to study, not least how much it’s going to cost and how you can pay.

That’s why we keep our fees as low as possible and offer a range of flexible payment and funding options. To find out more see Fees and funding.

Study materials

What's included

Module books and other printed materials.

Computing requirements

You will need a computer with internet access to study this module as the study materials and activities are accessible via a web browser. Any other computer-based activities you will need to carry out, such as word processing, using spreadsheets, taking part in online forums, and submitting files to the university for assessment, are specified in the module materials. If any additional software is needed for these tasks it will either be provided or is freely available.

We recommend either of the following:

  • Windows desktop or laptop computer running Windows 7 or later operating system
  • Macintosh desktop or laptop computer running OS X 10.7 or later operating system.

A netbook, tablet, smartphone or Linux computer that supports one of the browsers listed below may be suitable. The screen size should be at least 1024 (H) x 768 (W) pixels. If you intend to use one of these devices please ensure you have access to a suitable desktop or laptop computer in case you are unable to carry out all the module activities on your mobile device.

We recommend a minimum 1 Mbps internet connection and any of the following browsers:

  • Internet Explorer 9 and above
  • Apple Safari 7 and above
  • Google Chrome 31 and above
  • Mozilla Firefox 31 and above.

Note: using the latest version for your browser will maximise security when accessing the internet. Using company or library computers may prevent you accessing some internet materials or installing additional software.

See our Skills for OU study website for further information about computing skills for study and educational deals for buying Microsoft Office software.

Materials to buy

Set books

  • Martinich, A.P. Philosophical Writing (3rd edn) Wiley-Blackwell £17.99 - ISBN 9781405131674 Please ensure you purchase the 3rd edition of this title.

If you have a disability

This module makes extensive use of the internet and online forums, so you may need to spend considerable amounts of time using a personal computer. Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) versions of printed material are available. Some Adobe PDF components may not be available or fully accessible using a screen reader. Alternative formats of the study materials may be available in the future.

If you have particular study requirements please tell us as soon as possible, as some of our support services may take several weeks to arrange. Find out more about our services for disabled students.