What is Knowledge and Can We Have It?

Course details

From £215.00
10 CATS points

03 Oct 2019 - 05 Dec 2019
Day of week

What is Knowledge and Can We Have It?


Knowing what the weather is like, if our soup is too hot, or what our car looks like is seldom much of a challenge. But how do we know these things?  Is all knowledge gained through our senses reliable?  Some kinds of knowledge are dependent upon our trust in people with the right kind of authority, such as scientists, professors, doctors or solicitors. How do they become authorities and how certain is the knowledge they offer us? Is knowledge the same as “truth”, or closer to “useful”? What kind of knowledge do we gain through intuition, or emotion, and when is reason useful? We will look at these questions with a view to determining what a solid basis of having knowledge might be and whether we need to know something in order to believe it.

Programme details

Course starts: 03 Oct 2019

Week 1:  Perceptual Knowledge: knowing what we see.  

Week 2:  Perceptual Knowledge: do we perceive the world directly? 

Week 3:  Scientific Knowledge: Induction, Hume's problem, our problem?

Week 4: Scientific Knowledge: Popper, and the question of truth.

Week 5:  Cultural Knowledge: Paradigms we live by. 

Week 6:  Cultural Knowledge: Can we hold conflicting beliefs?

Week 7:  Authority and Knowledge: who has authority? 

Week 8:  Emotional Knowledge and intuitive knowledge: Do feelings give us knowledge?

Week 9:  Knowledge of others: how do we know what others think or believe?

Week 10:  Conclusions


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from between January 1st and July 31st after the current academic year has been completed. 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.


Description Costs
Course Fee £215.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Ms Rachel Paine

Rachel has been teaching with the department since 2005, both on the weekly class programme and the online philosophy courses. Her website is: www.philosophylives.com. 

Course aims

To explore and evaluate the ways in which knowledge is said to be gained.

To analyse different types of knowledge and assess the need for certainty in different situations.

To evaluate theoretical claims made about the nature of knowledge            

Course Objectives:

To understand the difference between different kinds of knowledge.

To be able to discuss and debate different views about the relationship between knowledge, truth and luck.

To appreciate the variety of roles knowledge plays in our lives.

Teaching methods

There will be short lectures, short writing sessions, group discussions, and media presentations of core ideas to generate further debate.

Learning outcomes

To have a firm understanding of a range of philosophical views on the nature of knowledge.

To be able to argue for or against several different views on what constitutes knowledge.

To have an informed opinion of what you think counts as knowledge.

Assessment methods

There will be written summaries and evaluations of short passages on at least three of the topics covered on the course.  

There will be a choice of either a single final essay (1500 words) or two short essays (750 words) on topics arranged between the student and tutor. 

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

Introductory level.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)