The great philosophers

Course Dates: 08/01/24 - 18/03/24
Time: 19:00 - 21:00
Location: Online
Explore the ideas of major philosophers from Plato to Sartre. How does Western philosophy differ from religion
and science? What problems have the great philosophers tried to solve?
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £239.00 Senior fee £239.00 Concession £155.00

Course Code: HP002

Mon, eve, 08 Jan - 18 Mar '24

Duration: 11 sessions (over 11 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

This course introduces and explores the ideas of some of the most important figures in the history of Western
philosophy. It is an ideal follow-up to last term's Introduction to Philosophy (HP004).

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

A broad range of philosophers will be covered, including Plato, Descartes, Locke, Hume, Marx, and Sartre.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

- identify the distinctive ideas of the philosophers covered on the course
- explain the problems that occupied these philosophers
- explain and assess their basic solutions.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

The course complements the Introduction to Philosophy course (HP004) and is an ideal follow-on. An
enthusiasm for learning as well as an open and critical mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills and will enhance your enjoyment and benefit from this course. On joining this course you should be able to read and comment upon extracts from a philosophical text. You should be prepared to discuss this reading in class.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The course is based on Jostein Gaarder’s ‘Sophie’s World’, a fantastic part-novel, part-introduction to the history of Western Philosophy. Each class will focus on one or two chapters, and will consist of short lecture-style presentations, pair, group and class discussion. There will also be opportunity to participate in online forums to explore topics further.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

A copy of Jostein Gaarder’s ‘Sophie’s World’.

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You may wish to consider Philosophy and the Meaning of Life (HP006), which runs in the evening online starting in April. For other philosophy courses on offer, please check our website at

Oliver Josiah

Oliver holds a postgraduate degree in Philosophy from the University of Oxford. Since graduating, he has taught a wide variety of courses to a broad range of students, from adults and children exploring the subject for the first time through to advanced undergraduates. His main areas of interest are the Philosophy of Mathematics, Metaphysics, the Philosophy of Language, and Logic. Recently, his research has focussed on developing medieval approaches to semantic paradoxes using modern mathematical methods. When Oliver’s not teaching or writing up papers, he’s either lost in a good book or somewhere deep in the English countryside.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.