This course has concessions available

Introduction To Philosophy

What is philosophy? This short course will provide a general introduction to the subject of philosophy, with no prior knowledge required. In the first class, we explore Socrates' claim that 'the unexamined life is not worth living', the world of the ancient Greek philosophers, and we'll practice some philosophical questioning and debate. In the second class, we will ask why should we be good? We will explore moral judgement, what makes an action 'good' or 'bad', whether free will exists, and the meanings of fairness in society. Prepare to come with an open mind!

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

This short course is for absolute beginners, with no previous knowledge or experience of philosophy necessary.

What does this course cover

The short two-part course will introduce some key issues and concepts in Philosophy and is aimed at the total beginner. In class 1 we define what philosophy is, and explore why it emerged in Ancient Greece. You'll be introduced to Socrates and Plato, and we'll read from and debate some of their key ideas about beauty, truth and the good. Why did the Oracle of Delphi claim that 'no man is wiser than Socrates', and why was Socrates unafraid to drink the hemlock? In class 2 we cover key questions and problems for moral and political philosophy. Why do we measure and judge behaviour in terms of right or wrong, and why are these definitions so often varied and argued about? We will discuss fairness, justice and ethical questions around consequences vs motives. Do the ends justify the means? We will debate and explore what our own moral or political views indicate about ourselves, others, and the world we live in. Prepare to have your preconceptions challenged and to think for yourself in a friendly, inquisitive environment.
By the end of the course, you will hopefully have a basic familiarity with the world of Socrates and Plato. You will be able to explain concepts like aporia, dialectic, and the Socratic method, and you will be able to define basic moral theories like utilitarianism, deontology, and the problem of akrasia.

What will it be like

The classes will be discussion-based, allowing participants to explore through debate. Your tutor will assess your progress through your class participation, in conjunction with your own self-assessment of your progress. In philosophy, however, progress often means becoming less certain, or more perplexed. Socrates, said to be the wisest man of all, famously claimed that he knew nothing

What else do you need to buy or do

Bring a pen, notebook and an open mind. Course readings will be provided as photocopies and electronically, and course materials and helpful resources (YouTube videos, podcasts) will be available online through the course's virtual learning environment.

What this course could lead to

This summer school is a great step into Mary Ward Centre's Introduction to Philosophy course series, starting in September. Pitched at beginners' level, these classes run over 12 weeks and explore the ancient Greeks, moral and political philosophy, the philosophy of religion and existentialism. Mary Ward also offer a wide range of courses that encourage discussion and reflection, from History to Anthropology, Psychology and beyond.

mwc logo

I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’