Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Philosophy in Education

Co-taught with the Department of Philosophy

Year 2 - 15 CATS - OPTIONAL CORE or OPTIONAL module

Year 3 - 15 CATS - OPTIONAL module

Year 4 (intercalated degree) - 15 CATS - OPTIONAL module

What is this module about?

This module investigates what it might mean to “teach philosophically”, both in terms of established curriculum concepts and new initiatives. You will critically analyse contemporary approaches to using philosophy in schools and consider alternatives, as well as exploring the ways in which a philosophical approach to teaching generally might be practically implemented. You will also examine how an understanding of the philosophical assumptions behind school curriculum can assist in teaching subjects, both independently and in interdisciplinary contexts, as well as how it could enhance pupil learning.

Topics covered:

  • Critical consideration of the ways philosophy is currently being utilized in education, particularly the post-16 context
  • Exploration of educational policy and case studies drawn from the field of education.
  • The concepts of “teaching philosophically”
  • The way philosophical thinking is represented in educational and philosophical literature
  • The roles of experience and imagination in philosophical arguments
  • The inter-relations between philosophical reasons and passions

Learning outcomes:

  • To understand the way philosophy can be used as a tool of educational innovation in post-16 education and beyond
  • To become familiar and engage critically with the ways in which philosophy is being used in education
  • To articulate different ways philosophical thinking might be defined, and comprehend relevant debates in metaphilosophy
  • To be able to isolate the important claims within readings, understand the structure of arguments, test views for strengths and weaknesses, make pertinent use of examples, and compare the substance of views consistently
  • To be able to apply a practical dimension to conceptual thought
  • To add value to educational practice via a conceptual analysis of its aims and methods

Contact time:

The module will consist of 9 x 1-hour lectures and 9 x 2-hour seminars, plus optional tutorials of up to three hours per student over the duration of the module


One 1,000-word reflective assignment and one 2,000-word essay

Sample reading list:

Bakhurst, D (2011). The Formation of Reason. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Bakhurst, David and Fairfield, Paul, (eds.) (2016). Education and Conversation: Exploring Oakeshott's Legacy.

Bonnett, M. (1994). Children's Thinking. London: Cassell.

Dunne, J. (1993). Back to the Rough Ground. Notre Dame Press.

Gendler, Tamar Szabo (2014). Thought Experiment: On the Powers and Limits of Imaginary Cases. Routledge.

Gendler, Tamar Szabo (2010). Intuition, Imagination, and Philosophical Methodology. Oxford University Press Uk.

Glendinning, Simon (2010) Argument all the way down: the demanding discipline of non-argumento-centric modes of philosophy. In: Reynolds, J. and Chase, J. and Williams, J., (eds.) Postanalytic and Metacontinental Crossing Philosophical Divides. London: Continuum.

Hand, M. & Winstanley, C. (2008). Philosophy in Schools. London: Continuum

Lipman, M. (1977). Philosophy in the Classroom. Montclair State College: Institute for the Advancement of Philosophy for Children.

Lipman, M. (2003). Thinking in Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Peters, M. (2007). Kinds of Thinking, Styles of Reasoning. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 350-363.

Siegel, H. (1988). Educating Reason. Worcester: Routledge.

Siegel, H. (1997). Rationality Redeemed? Further Dialogues on an Educational Ideal. New York: Routledge.

Smith, R.D. (2008). To school with the poets: philosophy, method and clarity. Paedogogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education 44(6): 635-645.

Vansieleghem, N., & Kennedy, D. (2012). Philosophy for Children in Transition: Problems and Prospects. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell

Warner, M. (1989). Philosophical Finesse: Studies in the art of rational persuasion. Oxford: Clarendon.

Winch, Christopher (2006). Education, Autonomy and Critical Thinking. Routledge.

Wiliams, E. (2016). The Ways We Think. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

Williams, E. (2015) In excess of epistemology: Siegel, Taylor, Heidegger and the conditions of thought. Journal of Philosophy of Education, Volume 49 (1). pp. 142-160.

Williams, E. (2013) ‘Ahead of all beaten tracks’ : Ryle, Heidegger and the ways of thinking. Journal of Philosophy of Education, Volume 47 (1). pp. 53-70.

Zamir, Tzachi. (2007). Double Vision: Moral Philosophy and Shakespearean Drama. Oxford: Princeton University Press.