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PH345 - Philosophy of Computation

  • Module code: PH345
  • Module name: Philosophy of Computation
  • Department: Philosophy
  • Credit: 15

Content and teaching | Assessment | Availability

Module content and teaching

Principal aims

The purpose of this module is to provide a non-technical introduction to theoretical computer science and philosophical issues about computation. Among the questions we will address are the following: is it possible to provide a mathematically precise analysis of the intuitive notion of a computable function? do there exist functions which are non-computable even in principle? what does it mean to say that one computational problem (e.g. determining if a number is prime) is harder or more complex then another (e.g. determining if a number is even)? what does it mean to say that sequence of natural numbers is random or incompressible by a computer? is the mind a computer and can mathematical results (e.g. Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems) be used to confirm or disconfirm such a possibility? what does it mean for a physical system to realize a computer? do results from contemporary physics bear on this?

Principal learning outcomes

By the end of the module the student should be able to: 1) demonstrate knowledge of topics about computation; 2) understand the significance these systems to problems in philosophy.

Timetabled teaching activities

Normally runs during the Autumn term in alternate years. 2 hour lectures and I hour seminars weekly.

Departmental link

Other essential notes

Please note that attendance at both lectures and seminars and completion of any unasssessed or required work is a requirement of this module

Module assessment

Assessment group Assessment name Percentage
15 CATS (Module code: PH345-15)
D (Assessed/examined work) Assessed Exercises 15%
  2 hour examination (Summer) 85%
VA (Visiting students only) 100% assessed (part year) visiting 100%

Module availability

This module is available on the following courses:



Optional Core
  • Undergraduate Classical Civilisation with Philosophy (Q8V7) - Year 3
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Business Studies (with Intercalated Year) (G1N2) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Mathematics and Philosophy with Intercalated Year (GV18) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Classical Civilisation with Philosophy (Q8V7) - Year 3
  • Undergraduate History and Philosophy (V1V5) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Philosophy (wiith Intercalated year) (V701) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Philosophy with Classical Civilisation (V7Q8) - Year 2
  • Undergraduate Philosophy and Literature with Intercalated Year (VQ73) - Year 2