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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to Philosophy by The University of Edinburgh

8,771 ratings

About the Course

This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. Topics you’ll learn about will include: Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained; Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law; Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and; Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality. The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre. To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information....

Top reviews


Sep 1, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.


Feb 21, 2023

I already had a Bachelor's in Philosophy degree. But, this course has the potential to comprehensively elaborate on the aspects that were lacking and that I was unable to comprehend in a unique way.

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By Cliff S

Aug 22, 2015

I enjoyed this course very much. Like many survey courses that are well-conceived, this one stimulated enthusiasm for learning more about some of the topics. So much so in my case that I have enrolled in another course from the University of Edinburgh relating to philosophy and science. I expect it will be equally thought provoking as its delivery involves some of the same faculty.

I believe this course would be improved if there was a mechanism for constructive feedback on missed exam questions that illustrate how the questions at hand are integral and in context to the presentations and supplemental readings (some of which I pursued). Simply referring a student back to the course outline does not assist learning when a student does not understand why a chosen answer is incorrect in context. I realize this is a tall ask for an online course. In my own experience as a university faculty member having developed computer assisted instruction and simulations (physiology and anesthesiology) there is no replacement for contact and conversation with an engaged teacher whose interest lies in helping people learn. That said, I reflect that my constructive comments are made in light of my overall satisfaction that this course has succeeded in stimulating interest in learning more about the interface and complementary nature of science and philosophy.

Borrowing a phrase from the course itself, "well done".

By Julio F

Nov 2, 2020

An interesting course that touches several subtopics in philosophy, expect to explore subjects such as morality, roots of knowledge, political obedience, the formation of beliefs, free will, and some logical exercises regarding time traveling.

The approach offered by the instructors doesn't assume any prior knowledge on the topic, and oftentimes examples of everyday life are brought to illustrate their points. On top of that, the fact that each section is structured in a similar manner helps with the learning process. The material is usually presented in the form of a central question, arguments from its key philosophers, counterviews, and a closing that brings to the table contemporary questions around the topic.

My 4-star rate is based on the fact that not all the sections contained a handout that, which makes it easy to access the content in the future. Apart from that, the quality of the lectures was quite high. I appreciate the fact that the University of Edinburgh staff invested their time and effort in making this material freely available.

I recommend this course if you are new to the field, and is seeking an overview. Students who have experience within philosophy might find it useful as a refresher, or perhaps as a way to access tangent subjects beyond their expertise.

By Bert S

Jan 6, 2022

I really enjoyed taking this course. It offered an excursion through 9 topics in philosophy, in which I was challenged to go through the lines of reasoning myself. The video's were good, but it is really necessary to have course material on the side, otherwise it goes to fast. I preferred the small booklet (Philosophy for Everyone), which was available second hand. I haven't found similar philosophy courses or MOOC's that introduce one so well to modern philosophy.

A point of critique: It was unclear to me how many students participated at that moment, the number shown (15.000) seemed rather unrealistic looking at the discussion threads and written assignments. Another point of critique was that I didn't see or hear participation of the teachers and tutors, possibly I have missed altogether how to reach them. Especially, in the discussion section tutors could have been more active. The discussion threads were now dominated by one participant. To make up for the low number of actual discussion threads, old threads were listed that were sometimes three years old. Clearly one wouldn't get answered on reacting on a three year old post.

Bert Schilte

By Tina D

Jul 23, 2017

I expected it to be an introduction to philosophy for true beginners - for those people who have absolutely no idea about philosophy, or have never taken a philosophy course before. Fortunately, I have previous knowledge of the branches and sub-branches of philosophy [Metaphysics (Cosmology, Ontology, Theology), Epistemology, Logic, Axiology/Value Theory (Ethics & Aesthetics), Political Philosophy, Social Philosophy, Language Philosophy], and their key concepts. I would have called the course "Issues in Philosophy Today" because the course focused on certain concepts from almost each branch. This course, however, gave me many insights into what kind of philosophical research is presently being conducted at universities, or at least at this university (University of Edinburgh). The course is very well organized and easy to follow. Extra reading would be necessary for those who cannot understand some key concepts. Thank you for offering this course for free for those of us who are interested in certain subjects for the sake of pure knowledge and interest.

By Behnam D

Oct 28, 2020

There are several positive points about the course. First, it was thought by multiple professors in their areas of expertise. Therefore, it made it more interesting with different personalities and genders. I was pleased to see 3 female professors as well because philosophy in the past was only considered by men! So, I am glad to see progress in this regard. By the way, I am a male but support women!

One concern was about the tests. In some cases, the quiz had several options and for instance we can choose all if appropriate. In one case, I did answer about 9 answers right but one incorrect and got zero point! The topics did not go deep enough based on my expectation. But this is an introductory course and appears to be appropriate. As I look at some reviews, some thought the topics were difficult but not for me as I have had more experience. But it was a good, comprehensive course and one can use to build upon if more interested. Overall, I like the course and Scottish/British/? accents!!

By Jean C

Sep 5, 2017

Me pareció una espectacular introducción a la Filosofía, aborda algunas cuestiones generales del debate filosófico a través de la historia y que instan la curiosidad intelectual por la Filosofía, aprendí muchas cosas que no sabía que no sabía...jeje agradezco a los profesores por esclarecer las teorías con ejemplos cotidianos, esto ayudó mucho para entender cada tema y me gustaron muchos las semanas de Filosofía política, Filosofía de la mente, ''los estatus de la moral'', sobre el libre albedrío y determinismo , el objetivo de la ciencia fue una lectura muy agradable , la lectura de ''¿Debes creer lo que oyes'' estuvo muy emocionante! . Hubieron lecturas que no tenían subtitulos, traduje los subtitulos en inglés porque aún estoy aprendiendo el idioma, con el traductor de pierde un poco de sentido y debido a esto algunas lecturas no las entendí muy bien. Gracias por ofrecer este preciado conocimiento. ¡Que viva la universidad!

By Lino S

Jan 14, 2018

It was a fantastic first online learning experience for me. What I liked about the course was that it was easy paced and did not need a daily commitment. I feel it has given me a great background to launch into further areas of my interest. I thought all the lectures were informative and well structured and explained. I had an issue with the peer assessment. I could not find the link in the first week and so I contacted the Coursera Admin and was told that it was discontinued by the University of Edinburgh. However, after doing the last assessment of Week 5 when I clicked next, I was lead to the Peer Assessment which is not too late for me to work on as I am free only during the weekends. But all in all.... for a 50+ year old guy... it was an experience that I feel is going to make a huge difference in my life.

By Ranjan P

May 27, 2020

It was a good introduction to a complex subject. I am not sure I followed everything or found everything equally interesting. Some of it seemed very esoteric and pointless, some of it captured my interest and imagination. The course should really say Introduction to Western Philosophy because the whole world of Eastern Philosophy is left unexplored and unexamined. The lecturers were all very good but more of an attempt should be made to liven up the slides and use imagery or even videos to illustrate complex philosophical arguments. I did not find the forums or course groups to be so useful because I was a lot older than most participants and so did not have the appetite to engage in endless philosophical arguments with the passion of those who are much younger !

By Isaac R M V

Feb 13, 2017

Me gustó mucho este curso porque adquirí las herramientas básicas necesarias para iniciarme en la reflexión filosófica en general. El programa semanal contiene material relevante y breve, distribuido en dosis digeribles y precisas. Las evaluaciones fueron muy coherentes y puntuales. Solamente me permito hacer dos sugerencias: 1. Que las evaluaciones estén disponibles también en español, ya que el inglés en ocasiones me presentó dificultades de comprensión que influyeron en mi desempeño. 2. Los contenidos están muy enfocados hacia la ciencia; vale la pena incluir otras áreas (Filosofía del Arte o Filosofía de la Posmodernidad, por ejemplo).

Finalmente, les felicito por impartir este excelente curso y les doy mi más sincero agradecimiento.

By amrit s

Jan 3, 2021

Overall a wonderful experience. Though it has some issues which I mainly think is the limitation of the online courses, it can be improved a little in some areas like an explanation of the topics in a longer period of time given that the course is an introduction to philosophy and should expect beginners to be enrolled in this course who haven't learned the jargons and abstract concepts and may need a little longer to time to fully comprehend them. Also, I think the topics covered were few, and the presentation skills of some professors very weak. But I will say that the overall content is very good and you can learn about various new topics and get the basic concept about them or at least about the few topics mentioned here.

By Johannes S

Apr 25, 2018

A good introduction to the doing of philosophy, bringing in an array of theorists and ideas pertaining to philosophy. All presenters communicated clearly and concisely and were able to translate information in an understandable manner. However, updated videos with better quality software and user graphics would aid in this translation. The multiple choice question assignments were frustrating at times though, as they seemed to be constructed intentionally to be misleading or unclear to artificially ramp up the difficulty of the course. I would highly recommend more qualitative assessment in the form of academic arguments structured in essay format, similar to the final peer-reviewed assignment.

By Ammar A

Jul 9, 2020

A really nice and stimulating approach to introducing philosophy. It offered the benefit of introducing the student to the way philosophers think and the type of problems they attempt to solve and, at the same time, it also gave us a good sense of how difficult of a discipline it could be. All the lecturers were pleasant, informative, and treated the material at the right level, I think. I wondered sometime about the order of the topics introduced as their seems to be some dissonance, but I am not sure I would be able to offer a solution since the approach itself almost necessitates this unseemliness. If I were to chose at the end, I would chose this approach. Thank you very much.