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Ethics and Society

What is the Structured Elective about?
Many of the questions studied in Philosophy are ones that occur naturally to us, such as: Are morals simply matters of personal opinion? Why should I obey the law? Is truth relative? What is goodness or a ‘public good’? How is power structured? When is it legitimate to resist authority? How can we imagine a better world? A central focus of a philosophical approach to an issue is to focus on and further refine a motivating query to find a question that is crucial to understanding important features of human life and both robust and supple enough to generate a variety of approaches to answering that question. The modules available in this structured elective introduce students to questions central to understanding how we might act ethically (or not) as individuals and to questions as to what constitutes a just or fair society. This structured elective introduces students to the diverse ways that these questions have been addressed in different contexts. The student will be introduced to concepts that are central to the study of ethics and a philosophical understanding of societies, concepts such as obligation, sympathy, forgiveness, responsibility and autonomy. Furthermore, students will be encouraged to consider the processes and impacts by which individuals and societies create value and make judgements.

Why should I take this Structured Elective?
Philosophical questions are very general and cut across the other domains of human knowledge. The philosophical way of answering these questions is for the most part the use of reason, as opposed to observation or experiment as in natural science, and as opposed to revelation or direct insight as in religion. Furthermore, Philosophy is uniquely general: it seeks to understand how all the other domains of human knowledge and culture fit together, and how, in the most general terms, they connect to reality. In taking this elective you will be enabled to apply the knowledge and understanding gained in considering ethical concepts; what makes a judgement morally sound; and how individual and societal values are constructed, transmitted and contested; to both intellectual enquiry and pragmatic concerns.

How would this Structured Elective benefit me?

There are four key benefits to taking this structured elective:

  1. Employability:The first is that it signals to future employers that you have an interest and some aptitude for considering ethical and wider social issues which are increasingly becoming more central in the concerns of the business world;
  2. Making Judgements:This structured elective in Philosophy will offer students the opportunity to learn about the philosophical frameworks and methods through which they can attain a greater understanding of the skills of enquiry, argumentation, analysis and critical thinking that are the central focus of philosophy and complementary to the study of all other academic subjects.
  3. Communications and Working Skills: Perhaps more than most (and certainly more than many) disciplines, philosophy places an emphasis on dialogue in the formation of knowledge. A philosophical argument invites objections and seeks to refine its relevance and insight by making responses to objections. Tutorials are thus a central component of the module where students are encouraged to practice recognising the premises of arguments, to analyse if the moves that are made to support an argument are internally consistent and to construct objections to premises and the process of arriving at the claims of valid conclusions. These skills are fundamental to most professions and will remain transferrable across a range of careers.
  4. Learning Skills:In studying philosophy, students are required to develop skills in verbal and written communication, problem-solving, clear and disciplined thinking and analysis, along with robust and persuasive argumentation.

How do I take the modules in the Structured Elective?

  • In order to earn this Structured Elective you must take the specified modules in or after 2019/20
  • To receive this Structured Elective you must take the required modules as General Elective modules and not as Core or Option modules.
  • Students must pick 3 modules (15 credits) from the list of modules below to be eligible for the structured elective in Ethics and Society.
  • Over the course of your undergraduate studies, you will have the opportunity to take elective modules in each year of your programme, so if you wish to undertake this Structured Elective in Ethics and Society, you must ensure that at least three of your elective choices are from the list below.
  • Students who successfully complete 15 credits in Ethics and Society will have this automatically noted on their final UCD degree transcript. The transcript will state that you have completed the Structured Elective in Ethics and Society, in addition to your main degree subjects.
  • Students must pick three of the following modules to be eligible for the structured elective. It recommended that modules are taken in the order of level 1, level 2, level 3
Module Title Credits
(opens in a new window)PHIL10040 Introduction to Ethics 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL10070 Ancient Philosophy 5
PHIL20240 Applied Ethics  5
(opens in a new window)PHIL20440 Feminism & Gender Justice 5
PHIL20570 Philosophy & Literature 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL20580 Plato's Republic & Timaeus 5
PHIL20630 Art and Society  5
PHIL20700 Intro to Philosophy of History 5

Module listing updated July 2023

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