Cropped image of painting called hilosophy by Raphael

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

At a Glance

  • Live online course
  • 2 hours a week
  • Thursdays 18:00 - 20:00
  • 10 weeks: January to March
  • Tutor: Matthew Rowe
  • Fees from £120 to £205
  • Imperial College Attendance Certificate (T&Cs apply)
  • Book from 23 November
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).

Online Access to Course

This is a taught live online course which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time on a specific day of the week. To take part in the course you will need a suitably equipped and internet-enabled device. Please find full details and instructions below under 'Course Delivery'.

Attendance Certificate

Those who attend at least 80% of the course sessions will receive an attendance certificate from Imperial College London upon completion of the course.

Course Information

Course Programme

Course programme (may be subject to minor modification)

Week / Session 1Introduction: What is Philosophy?

  • Philosophy as Activity, Method and Body of Knowledge

Week / Session 2Metaphysics

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

Week / Session 3Epistemology

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

Week / Session 4Philosophy of Mind

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

Week / Session 5Politics

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

Week / Session 6Philosophy of Religion

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

Week / Session 7Morality

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

Week / Session 8Aesthetics and Art

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

Week / Session 9Philosophy of Science

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

Week / Session 10Philosophy & 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

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 Delivery

All our online courses are taught live which means you will be taught alongside other students on the course by a tutor at a specific time. To take part in the course you must be able to attend the online session at the time stated for the course description.

All times stated are British Standard Time.

To take part you will need a computer, or laptop, or tablet computer, connected to the Internet. The device you use will also need to have a camera, microphone and speakers. Most devices now have these built in, but if not you might have to buy them from a computer shop and to connect them to your device.

Zoom

This course will use Zoom as its online delivery method. Zoom is very easy to use and you do not need to set up a Zoom account to use it. Near the date of your first online session you will be sent an email with a web address (or URL) that will allow you to access the course. This is called the Course Link. All you need do is click on the Course Link in the email and you will be asked to enter your name. This is the name that will be seen by your tutor and other students in the class.

Once you have entered your name you might be asked to enter a password to enter the class. The password will be included in the email sent to you. Once you enter the password you will either be taken directly into the class, or asked to wait in a virtual waiting room until the tutor is ready to let you into the class.

We have also produced a Handy Guide to Zoom [pdf] which gives you basic information on how to use it.

All courses lasting two hours have a 10 minute break in the middle.  For one hour courses there is no break.

Course Fees and Rate Categories

HoursWeeksStandard RateInternal RateAssociate Rate
 20  10  £205
£120
£160
All fee rates quoted are for the whole course. Please note there is no early-bird discount available for the January intake courses

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 eveningclass@imperial.ac.uk 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
  • 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
  • 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)
  • Members of the London Zoological Society
  • Members of the Kennel Club

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
 20  10 n/a w/c 18 Jan - w/e 27 Mar 2021 (10 weeks)* n/a n/a
* This is a 1-term course

Enrolment Process

Web enrolment starts 23 November 2020

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

Any Questions?

Questions regarding the content and teaching of this course should be sent to the tutor for this class, Dr Matthew Rowe, at m.rowe@imperial.ac.uk