Cropped image of painting called hilosophy by Raphael

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

Information at a Glance

  • Classroom class
  • Tuesdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours weekly online taught time
  • Tutor: Matthew Rowe

On this course we will be introduced to the ideas, lives and social contexts of some of the greatest philosophers in human history.

Beginning with the idea of philosophy itself, our primary focus on this course will be the philsophical concept of beauty and its impact on things like art. We will look at changes in the definition of philosophy over the centuries, examining a number of key historical and contemporary philosophers. 

Philosophers studied will range from ancient Greek thinkers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to western philsophers such as Kant, Nietzsche and Langer, amongst others. You will be encouraged to consider the work of historical and contemporary philosophers in light of your own experiences, and to address the question whether philosophy is still relevant in our lives today.

The course is aimed at complete beginners, and so no previous knowledge of philosophy is necessary.

Course Information

Course Programme

  • Week 1: Introduction: What is Philosophy? - Philosophy as Activity, Method and Body of Knowledge
  • Week 2: Plato’s problems – The contemporary legacy of his thought: Abstract Knowledge, Reality and the Good Society
  • Week 3: Metaphysics: What is Reality? What exists? How? Why? When?
  • Week 4: Aristotle’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: Logic, scientific method, human flourishing and virtue
  • Week 5: Descartes’ Problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: Knowledge and doubt - and the relationship between mind and body
  • Week 6: Epistemology: What is knowledge? What are its limits and how do we come to know things?      
  • Week 7: Philosophy of Mind What is consciousness? Is there a Mind? If so how does it relate to the body?
  • Week 8: Locke’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: Empirical Knowledge, Property rights and the rule of Law?
  • Week 9: Politics: The relationship between people and states; Laws, disobedience and rights

*** Christmas break ***

  • Week 10: Hume’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: Scepticism, rationality and the basis of morality and faith
  • Week 11: Philosophy of Religion Does God Exist? What is religious belief? Faith, knowledge and truth
  • Week 12: Kant’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: The structure of reality, the force of morality, aesthetics
  • Week 13: Morality: How to be Good? Why Be Good? Judging by rules vs. judging by consequences
  • Week 14: Aesthetics and Art: What is art? What is beauty? How do we judge?
  • Week 15: Wittgenstein’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: What is meaning? The limits of language and philosophy
  • Week 16: Philosophy of Science: What is Scientific Method? Is science about truth? How is it different to non-science?
  • Week 17: Philosophy of Language: What is the relationship between language and reality? What are languages
  • Week 18: Heidegger’s problems - The contemporary legacy of his thought: The nature of human existence, the nature of being, the construction of meaning
  • Week 19: Contemporary Continental Thinkers: What is Philosophy? How is to be done? Is it a doomed (imperialist) project?
  • Week 20: The Philosophy of the Future. The coming debates: Anthropocene, Post-human & the breakdown of our worlds

This programme is provisional and may be subject to modification

Additional Reading

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

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
 40  20  £420    (Early Bird Rate: £380*)
£250    (Early Bird Rate: £230*) £330    (Early Bird Rate: £300*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October only  |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole 2-term course.

Rate Categories and Discounts

Standard Rate

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

Internal Rate

  • 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)
  • Individuals enrolling under our Friends & Family scheme
  • Staff of the English Chamber Orchestra
  • 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 contact before completing the online enrolment form

Associate Rate

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

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 the Terms and Conditions [pdf] before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer termSummer School
 40  20 18 Oct - 18 Dec 2021 (9 weeks)*  PLUS 10 Jan - 26 Mar 2022 (11 weeks) n/a n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 2nd August 2021

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

Any Questions?

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