Course syllabus



SEMESTER 1, 2018

15 points

Course Convenor and Lecturer:

Dr Vanya Kovach

Room 425 Humanities Building (ARTS 1)

Office Hours: Tuesdays 11.30 - 12.30, Thursdays 11.30 - 12.30



David Kelley

Office hours: Thursday and Friday 11- 12, Arts 1 Room 306


Charlotte Holzke

Office hours: Tuesdays 2pm, Arts 1, Room 306


SSCC Representatives

Denesse Atendido

Anna Kalarcheva


Course delivery format:

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial

(Timetable and room details can be viewed on Student Services Online)

Please go to the Reading Lists section for readings and guidance on when to read them

All lectures will be recorded

Lecture slides, recordings, tutorial outlines and other incidental materials will be made available in the Modules section



Tutorials provide an opportunity to discuss questions and issues raised in the course.  Your tutors will encourage collaborative inquiry, and will connect the ideas and arguments discussed both to the assessment of the course and to "real life" issues.  Each tutorial will begin with an informal, open book "snap review" of key points from lectures in the previous week, which students will complete in pairs.  Tutorial outlines will be posted at the end of the week before each tutorial.


 Missed tutorials

If you miss a tutorial through sickness or on other compassionate grounds, you may attend at another time, under certain conditions. Please let the tutor know, at the tutorial, that you will be there for one session only. If the room is already at capacity, you will not be admitted. See the following document for times and rooms.

Tutorial Times and Rooms.docx



 Summary of Course Description:              

The philosophical study of ethics provides theoretical frameworks for thinking about questions such as "What makes an action right or wrong?", "What kind of person should I try to be?" and “Is morality objective or not?” A number of theories will be explored, evaluated and applied to practical moral issues such as the distribution of health resources, our treatment of other animals, and tolerance regarding cultural differences.

Overview of Course Content

The course has three components:

  1. An introduction to Ethics (Lectures 1 and 2)
  2. An examination of three influential (Western European) approaches to Normative Ethics: Utilitarianism, Deontology and Virtue Ethics. The discussion of each theory will be followed by an application of that theory to topic in practical ethics (Lectures 3 – 20)
  3. An introduction to Meta-Ethics, with a focus on Cultural Relativism. (Lectures 21- 24)


 Course aims

  1. To introduce to students a range of approaches to normative, practical and meta-ethics, by outlining the main features of each approach, the reasons one might have for adopting such an approach and the standard objections to each approach.
  2. To encourage and enable students to form their own views on the merits of each approach to ethics, and to argue for these views.


 Learning Outcomes

Students will be able to:

  • Describe and, where relevant, compare, the theories presented to them in the course
  • Offer an evaluation of selected theories and views, including whether standard objections to them can met
  • Present their evaluations using the basic format of argument, objection and reply
  • Present and defend their own view on the topics covered, in the light of material presented in the course


 Assessment Summary:

Coursework: Two 1500 word essays, worth 20% each

Exam: Two hours, worth 60%   Structure of the PHIL 102 exam.docx

Plussage applies. If you complete both essays to a satisfactory standard (a pass is not required, but an honest attempt is) your final mark will be either 40% coursework and 60% exam, or 100% exam, whichever is higher

Essay submission will be on-line only (no paper copies required) via Canvas, using Turnitin, a program which will check your essay for any material which has been taken from other sources without acknowledgement.  It is VERY good at this, so please do not include any such material in your essays.  Further information on referencing and plagiarism will be provided shortly.


Prescribed Texts:

There are no prescribed texts

 Recommended Texts:

Ethics, Piers Benn, UCL Press 1998.  Available as an e-book, see Reading Lists


Course Schedule

Week 1    Introduction to ethics, and to theorizing about ethics

Week 2    Introduction to Consequentialism and to our focus: Utilitarianism

Week 3    Utilitarianism - examining the theory and one variant (Rule Utilitarianism)

Week 4    Applying Utilitarianism to Health Care Resources

Week 5    Introduction to Deontology, and to our focus: Kantian Ethics

(Mid Semester Break)

Week 6    Kantian Ethics - examining the theory

Week 7    Applying Utilitarianism and Kantian Ethics to Punishment

Week 8    Character Ethics and introduction to our focus: Virtue Ethics

Week 9    Virtue Ethics - examining the theory

Week 10   Applying Utilitarianism, Kantian Ethics and Virtue Ethics to Our Treatment of Other Animals

Week 11   Introduction to Meta Ethics and to our focus: Cultural Relativism

Week 12   Examining Cultural Relativism, applying it to Toleration, and other options in Meta Ethics


 Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. Deadlines for coursework are set by course convenors and will be advertised in course material. You should submit your work on time. In extreme circumstances, such as illness, you may seek an extension but you may be required to provide supporting information before the assignment is due. Late assignments without a pre-approved extension may be penalised by loss of marks – 5 marks per week or part of a week. No essays will be accepted after two weeks beyond the due date, except in very exceptional circumstances.

Course summary:

Date Details