Introduction to Philosophy (Online)


We take ourselves to know, but do we? We take ourselves to be free, but are we? What is the nature of the reality that we believe ourselves to live in? When are our actions moral? The oldest questions asked by human beings meet with the newest technology, to offer students the opportunity to explore these questions in this introductory online philosophy course.

Even as our knowledge continually expands, philosophical questions asked since the time of the Ancient Greek philosophers continue to perplex us. This course offers students the opportunity to explore four topics in philosophy - knowledge, reality, free will and morality. Through a series of guided readings, and participation in discussions and other online events, you will not only learn how philosophers have tackled these topics, but learn how to tackle them for yourselves.

For information on how the courses work, please click here.

Programme details

1. Why do Philosophy?

  • What is philosophy?
  • The unexamined life
  • Ideas and values

2.  Knowledge

  • First Meditation
  • Stages of doubt
  • Second Meditation
  • Descartes and Hume

3. Free Will

  • Intuitions on freedom
  • Schopenhauer
  • Changed your mind?
  • Agents or victims

4. The World

  • Locke and Berkeley
  • Property distinction
  • Blackburn
  • Fatal blow to realism

5. Morality

  • Dilemmas
  • Nicholas the Merchant and the Oxford Riots
  • Moral dilemmas and inescapable moral wrongdoing

We strongly recommend that you try to find a little time each week to engage in the online conversations (at times that are convenient to you) as the forums are an integral, and very rewarding, part of the course and the online learning experience.


Credit Application Transfer Scheme (CATS) points 

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £30 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online. If you do not register when you enrol, you have up until the course start date to register and pay the £30 fee. 

See more information on CATS point

Coursework is an integral part of all online courses and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework, but only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education, you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee. 


Digital credentials

All students who pass their final assignment, whether registered for credit or not, will be eligible for a digital Certificate of Completion. Upon successful completion, you will receive a link to download a University of Oxford digital certificate. Information on how to access this digital certificate will be emailed to you after the end of the course. The certificate will show your name, the course title and the dates of the course you attended. You will be able to download your certificate or share it on social media if you choose to do so. 

Please note that assignments are not graded but are marked either pass or fail. 


Description Costs
Course Fee £385.00
Take this course for CATS points £30.00


If you are in receipt of a UK state benefit, you are a full-time student in the UK or a student on a low income, you may be eligible for a reduction of 50% of tuition fees. Please see the below link for full details:


Concessionary fees for short courses


Dr Doug Bamford

Doug Bamford teaches courses in philosophy and political economy at OUDCE. His main interest is in political philosophy and its application to public policy. He obtained his PhD in 2013 and became an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (AFHEA) in 2023. He is author of Rethinking Taxation (Searching Finance, 2014) and several papers (including articles in the Journal of Applied Philosophy, Moral Philosophy and Politics, Problema, and Think). He blogs at Doug Bamford's Tax Appeal.

Mr Istvan Musza

Istvan has an MA in philosophy and political philosophy. He has spent some time in Oxford, Jesus College where he joined this thrilling online project. His favorite areas in philosophy are moral and political philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology and he is a big science fiction fan.

Course aims

The aim of the course is to introduce students to central topics in philosophy. The objectives are to promote interest in philosophy, to develop an understanding of the nature of philosophical questions, and of ways in which these can be answered.

Teaching methods

  • Guided reading of texts
  • Group discussions of particular issues
  • Questions to be answered in personal folders
  • Debating from positions given rather than from personal belief (to hone skills of debate)

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be able to:

  • Understand the nature of philosophical problems.
  • Understand the different ways of responding to these problems, be able to differentiate between them, and to evaluate them.
  • Grasp philosophical concepts and terms and reason philosophically.
  • Interpret and analyse a philosophical text.
  • Participate in philosophical debates.

Assessment methods

You will be set two pieces of work for the course. The first of 500 words is due halfway through your course. This does not count towards your final outcome but preparing for it, and the feedback you are given, will help you prepare for your assessed piece of work of 1,500 words due at the end of the course. The assessed work is marked pass or fail.

English Language Requirements

We do not insist that applicants hold an English language certification, but warn that they may be at a disadvantage if their language skills are not of a comparable level to those qualifications listed on our website. If you are confident in your proficiency, please feel free to enrol. For more information regarding English language requirements please follow this link:


Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an Enrolment form for short courses | Oxford University Department for Continuing Education

Level and demands

FHEQ level 4, 10 weeks, approx 10 hours per week, therefore a total of about 100 study hours.

IT requirements

This course is delivered online; to participate you must to be familiar with using a computer for purposes such as sending email and searching the Internet. You will also need regular access to the Internet and a computer meeting our recommended minimum computer specification.