Cropped image of painting called hilosophy by Raphael

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

Information at a Glance

  • Evening Class
  • Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 20 weeks: October to March
  • 2 hours taught time per week
  • Tutor: Matthew Rowe
  • Fees from £210 to £395
  • Location: Imperial College, South Kensington Campus

This course is now full

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, and the changes in the definition of philosophy over the centuries, the course will focus on the works of a number of key historical and more contemporary philosophers. It will examine 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.

Philosophers studied might range from Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, to Kant, Nietzsche and Langer, 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 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 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. An attendance certificate is issued only to those who attend at least 80% of the taught sessions.

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  £395    (Early Bird Rate: £360*) £230    (Early Bird Rate: £210*)
£305    (Early Bird Rate: £280*) 
* The Early Bird rate is available for enrolments made before the end of 30 September for courses starting in October   |   All fee rates quoted are for the whole course.
Term dates 1

Rate 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
  • Friends of the South London Botanical Institute
  • 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
  • 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, subject entirely to agreement by the tutor delivering the course. 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  before enrolling on any course.

Term Dates

HoursWeeksAutumn termSpring termSummer term
 40  20 14 Oct - 12 Dec 2019 (9 weeks)* 6 Jan - 19 Mar 2020 (11 weeks) n/a
* Followed by the Christmas break

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 1 August

Enrolment & payment are through the Imperial College eStore. Please use above booking link noting below instructions:

  • Our rate categories are explained on this page and your applicable 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 before your course choice and applicant details are queried on an in-built questionnnaire which completes the process
  • The following email notifications will be sent
What is sentWhen is it sentWhat does it contain
1. Payment confirmation Instantaneously following submission of your online application
  • Confirms your payment, date of payment and order number
  • Should not be treated as a course-enrolment receipt and therefore does not show your course however these details are sent to us via the system
2. Enrolment confirmation Sent in due course but likely not before the end of September. Please treat your payment confirmation as confirmation that your applicant details and payment have been received
  • Confirms your course choice
  • Shows the programme your course is part of as well as the term dates
  • Confirms your course' day of the week & time
3. Programme information Usually sent Friday late afternoon the week before term starts
  • Contains further course details incl. classroom location and teacher contact information
  • Provides further general programme 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% (16) of the taught classroom 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 tutor for this class, Dr Matthew Rowe,