Image of a mosaic

"Philosophy should quicken life, not deaden it." - Susan Glaspell

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: late July to September
  • 2 hours weekly online taught time
  • Tutor: Matthew Rowe
  • Fees from £67 to £117
  • Official Course Title: 'Understanding Art'
  • Online course
Booking link

On this course we will look at some of the key concepts philosophers have sought to address, their relationship to the societies in which they lived, and their influence on social thought and action, as well as their impact on subsequent thinkers.

We will address a different topic each week, looking at the perennial philosophical problems as well as old and new ways to address these topics. Topics will include What is Philosophy? What is it to be Good? Can the Existence of God be proved? What is Art? How  (and Why) does Science Work? How do we Know what we think we know? IS there such a thing as a Mind? And last but not least, What is there?

Philosophers studied might range from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to Kant, Nietzsche and Descartes, amongst others, and students will be encouraged to consider the work of historical and contemporary philosophers in light of their own experiences, and to address the question whether and how philosophy is still relevant in our lives today.

The course is aimed at complete beginners, all topics and any jargon will be explained and so no previous knowledge of western philosophy is necessary. Just come along with an open mind and be prepared to think adventurously.

This 10-week course offers one 2-hour online session each week (20 contact hours).


Equipment Required

To take part in this class you will need an internet connected computer or tablet, together with a Microsoft Teams Account. Microsoft Teams accounts are free, but you do need to register for one in advance using the same email address with which you enrol on this course. We recommend you also download the Microsoft Teams App.

If you want to take part in this class  you will need at a microphone and web-camera connected to your computer or tablet. Many computers, laptops and tablets already have these built in, but you might want to check on that first.

Course Information

Course Programme

Course programme (may be subject to minor modification)

This course is taught entirely online.

Session 1: Introduction: What is Philosophy?

  • Philosophy as Activity, Method and Body of Knowledge

Session 2: Metaphysics

  • What is Reality? What exists? How? Why? When?

Session 3: Epistemology

  • What is knowledge? What are its limits and how do we come to know things?      

Session 4: Philosophy of Mind

  • What is consciousness? Is there a Mind? If so how does it relate to the body?

Session 5: Politics

  • The relationship between people and states; Laws, disobedience and rights

Session 6: Philosophy of Religion

  • Does God Exist? What is religious belief? Faith, knowledge and truth.

Session 7: Morality

  • How to be Good? Why Be Good? Judging by rules vs. judging by consequences

Session 8: Aesthetics and Art

  •  What is art? What is beauty? How do we judge?

Session 9: Philosophy of Science

  • What is Scientific Method? Is science about truth? How is it different to non-science?

Session 10: Philosophy & Culture

  • What is the relationship between philosophy and the world? Is it part of its own problems? How can it be fit for the coming future?

Additional Reading and Credit Information

There is no compulsory reading required for this course, and there is no set course text.

No academic credits are available for this course.

About Your Tutor

Photograph of Matthew RoweDr Matthew Rowe is an extremely experienced and engaging teacher of philosophy, as well as being a practising philosopher in his own right.

His interests lie in aesthetics, the philosophy of art and relationship between artistic practice and art theory. He is primarily a writer, although he also engages in solo and collaborative visual art practises when appropriate.

His current writing research focusses on site speficity within artisitic production and issues surrounding morality and photography. Current writing projects include an essay on John Waters and a philosophical analysis of irony and sincerity.

As well as teaching at Imperial College London, Matthew also lectures at City and Guilds of London Art School.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
20  10  £117 £67 £90
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Fee Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

  • Applicable to all except those who fall under the Internal Rate or Associate Rate category, respectively.

Internal Rate

  • Applies to current Imperial College students and staff (incl. Imperial NHS Trust, Imperial Innovations, ancillary & service staff employed on long-term contracts at Imperial College by third-party contractors).
  • Current Centre for Languages, Culture and Communication (CLCC) staff, current CLCC PhD students, Science Communication (Sci Comm) postgraduate students, and students enrolled on an Imperial College 'Language for Science' degree programme should email evening before completing the online enrolment form.

Associate Rate

  • Students (non-Imperial College)
  • Alumni of Imperial College and predecessor colleges and institutes
  • City & Guilds College Association members
  • Members of the Friends of Imperial College
  • Francis Crick Institute staff, researchers and students
  • NHS staff (other than Imperial NHS Trust staff)
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea Council staff
  • Harrods staff
  • Historic Royal Palaces staff
  • Natural History Museum staff
  • Science Museum staff
  • South London Botanical Institute Members
  • Victoria and Albert Museum staff
  • Royal Geographical Society staff
  • Royal College of Art and Royal College of Music tutors and other staff
  • Santander Bank staff (Imperial College Walkway branch only)
  • Austrian Cultural Forum staff
  • Staff of Exhibition Road Cultural Group (Discover South Kensington) organisations
  • Lycee Charles de Gaulle staff
  • Tutors and other staff of other universities and higher education institutions
  • Tutors and other staff of institution members of the Association of Colleges
  • Residents of postcodes SW3, SW5, SW7, SW10 and W8
  • Members of the UK Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP)
  • Members of the South London Botanical Institute (SLBI)

Late enrolment

It is possible to enrol on many CLCC Evening Class and Lunchtime Learning programmes after the course has started. For non-language courses this is subject entirely to agreement by the tutor. For language courses it is subject to agreement by the language Coordinator conducting level assessment. If you want to join a course late do bear in mind there might be work you will need to catch up on, particularly in language courses.

Applicable terms & conditions

Please read these before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer term
 20  10 n/a n/a n/a w/c 27 Jul - w/c 28 Sept 2020 (10 weeks)

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 29 June

Enrolment and payment run through the Imperial College eStore. Please click on the blue booking link on the relevant course page noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on the course page and your applicable rate category must be selected on the eStore
  • First-time eStore users please create an account by entering an email address and password. These credentials should also be used for future bookings. Imperial College users please note the eStore is not a single-signon College system
  • The booking process involves entering payment details after your course choice and applicant details are collected via an in-built questionnnaire
  • The following email notifications are sent:
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Is sent instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • This is a receipt for your payment and includes payment date, order number and course title
  • Confirmation of your place on your chosen course will follow later
2. Enrolment confirmation Is sent within 10 working daysPlease treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Re-confirms your course choice
  • Shows your course's term dates
  • Confirms the day and time of your course
3. Programme information Is usually sent on Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains joining instructions for your course, incl. tutor contact details
If you need further help with the above information please ring 020 7594 8756

Certificate of Attendance

Our adult education evening and daytime classes do not offer academic credits, but we do offer an attendance certificate to those learners who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions. Eligible learners receive their certificate by email after the end of the course.

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the course tutor, Dr Matthew Rowe at