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Investigating philosophy

Philosophers like to ask deep and penetrating questions. What does it mean to be moral? Would a perfect God let evil exist in the world? When, if ever, is it acceptable to disobey the law? Is the mind distinct from the brain? What is knowledge? Is race ‘socially real’ and what does that mean? In this module, you will investigate these questions and many more, through six topics central to philosophy. The study materials will guide you to learn how to analyse texts, construct arguments and evaluate philosophical theories, while leaving space for independent study and reflection.

Modules count towards OU qualifications

OU qualifications are modular in structure; the credits from this undergraduate module could count towards a certificate of higher education, diploma of higher education, foundation degree or honours degree.

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Module

Module code

DA223

Credits

Credits

  • 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.
60

Study level

Across the UK, there are two parallel frameworks for higher education qualifications, the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications in England, Northern Ireland and Wales (FHEQ) and the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework (SCQF). These define a hierarchy of levels and describe the achievement expected at each level. The information provided shows how OU module levels correspond to these frameworks.
Level of Study
OU SCQF FHEQ
2 8 5

Study method

Module cost

Entry requirements

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What you will study

The module consists of the following six blocks:

Block 1: Philosophy of Religion
The concept of God is a concept of an all-powerful entity who exists outside time and space. The philosophical puzzles this raises have been studied for millennia, by believers and nonbelievers alike. This block draws on a number of different traditions to study the nature of God, the problem posed by the existence of evil, and the occurrence, or not, of miracles.

Block 2: Political Philosophy through Plato’s Crito
Plato’s Crito was written 2400 years ago, but it still has much to teach us. It makes us ask ourselves the questions “What is the state?” and “Why should we obey the law – if we should?” This block uses Plato’s Crito as the gateway to an exploration of political philosophy today.

Block 3: Philosophy of Mind
Humans and other animals have minds, whereas sticks and stones do not. But what is it to have a mind? The brain seems to have something to do with it, but is it the whole story? In the distant (or not so distant) future might there be robots, or other artificial intelligence, capable or thought, emotion and experience? The block explores these questions.

Block 4: Ethics
This block looks at three philosophical answers to the question of what it is for our actions to be right or wrong. Are the right actions simply the ones with the best consequences? Or do we have ‘moral duties’ we should fulfil regardless of the consequences? Or perhaps we should simply focus on being good, virtuous people and then right actions will follow?

Block 5: Epistemology
Epistemology is the study of knowledge. How do we know about the world? One obvious answer is by using our senses. Do our senses supply all that we know? Even mathematics? Don’t we in fact also acquire knowledge from listening to other people, and reading what they have written? But how do I decide whether to trust other people? Do we all have equal access to knowledge, or are some groups better 'knowers' than others?

Block 6: Philosophy of Race
The final block uses the skills you have gained throughout the module to answer questions in the Philosophy of Race. What is race? Is it a biological category? A social category? How is the idea of racial groups linked to broader societal structures? It will also analyse racism: is it a belief, a disposition to think badly of certain people, or something else?

Vocational relevance

Philosophy trains you to analyse complex texts and arguments, and consider both sides of an issue. It also teaches how to dispel confusions, express yourself clearly, and formulate clear arguments.These are key skills much valued in the workplace.

Teaching and assessment

Support from your tutor

Throughout your module studies, you’ll get help and support from your assigned module tutor. They’ll help you by:

  • marking your assignments (TMAs) and providing detailed feedback for you to improve
  • guiding you to additional learning resources
  • providing individual guidance, whether that’s for general study skills or specific module content
  • facilitating online discussions between your fellow students, in the dedicated module and tutor group forums.

Module tutors also run online tutorials throughout the module. Where possible, recordings of online tutorials will be made available to students. While these tutorials won’t be compulsory for you to complete the module, you’re strongly encouraged to take part.

Assessment

The assessment details for this module can be found in the facts box.

Future availability

Investigating philosophy starts once a year – October. This page describes the module that will start in October 2024. We expect it to start for the last time in October 2035.

Regulations

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

Course work includes:

5 Tutor-marked assignments (TMAs)
End-of-module assessment


Entry requirements

This is an OU level 2 module, OU level 2 modules build on study skills and subject knowledge acquired from previous studies at OU level 1. They are intended only for students who have recent experience of higher education in a related subject, preferably at the OU.

Preparatory work

No preparatory work is necessary, but if you would like to do some reading in advance, Simon Blackburn’s Think: A Compelling Introduction to Philosophy (Oxford University Press, 2001) is an accessible introductory book.

Register

Start End England fee Register
05 Oct 2024 Jun 2025 £3636.00

Registration closes 05/09/24 (places subject to availability)

Register
This module is expected to start for the last time in October 2035.

Additional Costs

Study costs

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

If your income is not more than £25,000 or you receive a qualifying benefit, you might be eligible for help with some of these costs after your module has started.

Ways to pay for this module

Open University Student Budget Account

The Open University Student Budget Accounts Ltd (OUSBA) offers a convenient 'pay as you go' option to pay your OU fees, which is a secure, quick and easy way to pay. Please note that The Open University works exclusively with OUSBA and is not able to offer you credit facilities from any other provider. All credit is subject to status and proof that you can afford the repayments.

You pay the OU through OUSBA in one of the following ways:

  • Register now, pay later – OUSBA pays your module fee direct to the OU. You then repay OUSBA interest-free and in full just before your module starts. 0% APR representative. This option could give you the extra time you may need to secure the funding to repay OUSBA.
  • Pay by instalments – OUSBA calculates your monthly fee and number of instalments based on the cost of the module you are studying. APR 5.1% representative.

Joint loan applications

If you feel you would be unable to obtain an OUSBA loan on your own due to credit history or affordability issues, OUSBA offers the option to apply for a joint loan application with a third party. For example, your husband, wife, partner, parent, sibling or friend. In such cases, OUSBA will be required to carry out additional affordability checks separately and/or collectively for both joint applicants who will be jointly and severally liable for loan repayments.

As additional affordability checks are required when processing joint loan applications, unfortunately, an instant decision cannot be given. On average the processing time for a joint loan application is five working days from receipt of the required documentation.

Read more about Open University Student Budget Accounts (OUSBA).

Employer sponsorship

Studying with The Open University can boost your employability. OU courses are recognised and respected by employers for their excellence and the commitment they take to complete. They also value the skills that students learn and can apply in the workplace.

More than one in ten OU students are sponsored by their employer, and over 30,000 employers have used the OU to develop staff so far. If the module you’ve chosen is geared towards your job or developing your career, you could approach your employer to see if they will sponsor you by paying some or all of the fees. 

  • Your employer just needs to complete a simple form to confirm how much they will be paying and we will invoice them.
  • You won’t need to get your employer to complete the form until after you’ve chosen your module.  

Credit/debit card

You can pay part or all of your tuition fees upfront with a debit or credit card when you register for each module. 

We accept American Express, Mastercard, Visa and Visa Electron. 

Mixed payments

We know that sometimes you may want to combine payment options. For example, you may wish to pay part of your tuition fee with a debit card and pay the remainder in instalments through an Open University Student Budget Account (OUSBA).


Please note: your permanent address/domicile will affect your fee status and, therefore, the fees you are charged and any financial support available to you. The fee information provided here is valid for modules starting before 31 July 2025. Fees typically increase annually. For further information about the University's fee policy, visit our Fee Rules

This information was provided on 18/04/2024.

Can you study an Access module for free?

Depending on eligibility and availability of places, you could apply to study your Access module for free.

To qualify, you must:

  1. be resident in England
  2. have a household income of less than £25,000 (or be in receipt of a qualifying benefit)
  3. have not completed one year or more on any full-time undergraduate programme at FHEQ level 4 or above or successfully completed 30 credits or more of OU study within the last 10 years

How to apply to study an Access module for free

Once you've started the registration process, either online or over the phone, we'll contact you about your payment options. This will include instructions on how you can apply to study for free if you are eligible and funded places are still available.

If you're unsure if you meet the criteria to study for free, you can check with one of our friendly advisers on +44 (0)300 303 0069, or you can request a call back.

Not eligible to study for free?

Don't worry! We offer a choice of flexible ways to help spread the cost of your Access module. The most popular options include:

  • monthly payments through OUSBA
  • part-time tuition fee loan (you'll need to be registered on a qualification for this option)

To explore all the options available to you, visit Fees and Funding.

What's included

The module combines two textbooks with rich online resources. The books are self-standing, so you will not have to keep jumping back and forth between them and your computer, You'll have access to a module website, which includes:

  • a week-by-week study planner
  • module materials
  • specially commissioned audio and video content
  • selections from the rich OU/BBC archive
  • quizzes and interactive activities
  • assessment guide
  • online tutorials and forums

Computing requirements

You’ll need broadband internet access and a desktop or laptop computer with an up-to-date version of Windows (10 or 11) or macOS Ventura or higher.

Any additional software will be provided or is generally freely available.

To join in spoken conversations in tutorials, we recommend a wired headset (headphones/earphones with a built-in microphone).

Our module websites comply with web standards, and any modern browser is suitable for most activities.

Our OU Study mobile app will operate on all current, supported versions of Android and iOS. It’s not available on Kindle.

It’s also possible to access some module materials on a mobile phone, tablet device or Chromebook. However, as you may be asked to install additional software or use certain applications, you’ll also require a desktop or laptop, as described above.

If you have a disability

The OU strives to make all aspects of study accessible to everyone and this Accessibility Statement outlines what studying DA223 involves. You should use this information to inform your study preparations and any discussions with us about how we can meet your needs.

To find out more about what kind of support and adjustments might be available, contact us or visit our disability support pages.