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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Introduction to Philosophy by The University of Edinburgh

8,771 ratings

About the Course

This course will introduce you to some of the main areas of research in contemporary philosophy. Each module a different philosopher will talk you through some of the most important questions and issues in their area of expertise. We’ll begin by trying to understand what philosophy is – what are its characteristic aims and methods, and how does it differ from other subjects? Then we’ll spend the rest of the course gaining an introductory overview of several different areas of philosophy. Topics you’ll learn about will include: Epistemology, where we’ll consider what our knowledge of the world and ourselves consists in, and how we come to have it; Philosophy of science, where we’ll investigate foundational conceptual issues in scientific research and practice; Philosophy of Mind, where we’ll ask questions about what it means for something to have a mind, and how minds should be understood and explained; Political Philosophy, where we'll investigate whether we have an obligation to obey the law; Moral Philosophy, where we’ll attempt to understand the nature of our moral judgements and reactions – whether they aim at some objective moral truth, or are mere personal or cultural preferences, and; Metaphysics, where we’ll think through some fundamental conceptual questions about free will and the nature of reality. The development of this MOOC has been led by the University of Edinburgh's Eidyn research centre. To accompany 'Introduction to Philosophy', we are pleased to announce a tie-in book from Routledge entitled 'Philosophy for Everyone'. This course companion to the 'Introduction to Philosophy' course was written by the Edinburgh Philosophy team expressly with the needs of MOOC students in mind. 'Philosophy for Everyone' contains clear and user-friendly chapters, chapter summaries, glossary, study questions, suggestions for further reading and guides to online resources. Please click "Start Here" and navigate to the "Optional Reading" page for more information....

Top reviews


Sep 1, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.


Feb 21, 2023

I already had a Bachelor's in Philosophy degree. But, this course has the potential to comprehensively elaborate on the aspects that were lacking and that I was unable to comprehend in a unique way.

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1 - 25 of 2,030 Reviews for Introduction to Philosophy

By vera b

Aug 21, 2015

I didn't find the overall content of the course very well chosen for an introduction to philosophy - since it covers so little. The title of this course should have been "An Introduction to Just a Couple of Topics in Philosophy." And there are so few philosophers covered. However, the biggest problem was instructor

Alasdair Richmond, whose response to debate was locking threads down every time his ideological positions were challenged. He showed himself completely inept to have a debate with more than one course participant and chose to censor a variety of viewpoints he dislikes. It was particularly ironic to see an instructor exercise censorship in a Philosophy course - a domain whose objective, after all, is the pursuit of truth as well as to ask and debate the "why" of everything! A petty tyrant does not make a good teacher.

Should I ever meet anyone interested in studying Philosophy, my first recommendation to them will be stay away from the University of Edinburgh, since there is no respect for debate, freedom of expression, or inquiry there.

By Sourav D

Jul 4, 2019

This course is my first ever serious attempt to know Philosophy and it has been an excellent opportunity to know about different facets of modern Philosophy. I am curious to know more now! Thanks!

By Andrew R

Jul 5, 2017

I found this course incredibly stimulating. A wonderfully structured introduction to European philosophy. All modules well presented. How lucky we are to have learning like this at our fingertips.

By Chanel C

Oct 8, 2015

Great explanations that is broken down with examples for understanding. Quizzes test for your understanding of the topic rather than just the textbook explanations. Challenging and thought revoking.

By Deleted A

Feb 15, 2016

I almost gave this two stars, but the content of the course is excellent, and I didn't want to take away from that. To start off, for an introductory class, this covers a large amount and variety of material. It might be better served to break it up into even smaller sections over the course of something like ten weeks or even twelve instead of cramming it all into seven weeks.

The lectures are enjoyable, but often they consist of nothing but the professor speaking. There are so many new terms, definitions, and ideas being introduced that it would help if these lectures also included slides or graphs with some of these ideas being broken down, as you would have in a regular class on a projector or on a chalkboard.

Frequently, the practice quizzes are just the same questions from the video lectures repeated over again, and offer very little prep for the actual quizzes, which are painfully pedantic for a non-credit course. Every section has a different style of quiz, which is hard to prepare for. I am someone who usually tests well and have been struggling with most of these, even when I read all of the handouts and take notes.

So, if this same course could be broken up over a slightly longer time and the quizzes could be more uniform, the lectures contained some slides, the course would be a brilliant introduction to philosophy overall. It's got all of the meat there, the presentation just makes it tough to digest.

By Lemuel T

Sep 2, 2015

I thoroughly enjoyed this course and find that it encouragingly sets some directions, and of course, raises my excitement for further study into some of the different fields of philosophy. Thank you.


Apr 11, 2021

Great explanations that is broken down with examples for understanding. Quizzes test for your understanding of the topic rather than just the textbook explanations. Challenging and thought revoking.

By Ivan V N

Sep 7, 2015

The course is interesting and its staff makes a great team, but I think as an introduction course, it should focus on the History of Philosophy, without entering into very specific fields of Modern Philosophy. The fundamental notions of Philosophy should be available for learners, as well as the great Philosophers from Ancient Greece to the Twentieth Century.

By Ilya K

Mar 23, 2016

A good course. However, I would expect more coherence between the different modules discussed. In its current structure, the course represents a glance at an arbitrary selection of several topics (unrelated to e, existing in today's philosophy, rather than a coherent introduction into the broad discipline of philosophy. However, this may be just a matter of approach - this approach is also perfectly valid.

By Igor K

Apr 9, 2020

There is definitely something interesting about the concept of thinking about things, and some of the lecturers were able to introduce various topics in a well-rehearsed, pedagogical manner. It was also interesting, that there were a large variety of lecturers. However, that (in my personal opinion) was a double-edged sword, because many spoke extremely fast while using a lot of academic lingo. For an intro course to the subject matter, such approach from several of the lecturers throughout the course definitely prevented me from optimally focusing on the material. Majority of the slides and imagery used to supplement the speaker were not effective to overcome that issue. As a result, I cannot say this was a particularly memorable experience, and I may be less inclined to take more MOOCs from this university, especially in this subject area.

By Stefan W

Oct 25, 2018

Excellent program: I enjoyed specifically the opportunity of a wide range of different lecturers and their different styles, the accurate transcripts were very useful in assisting my revision and review, I enjoyed the regular tests to ensure I was assimilating all the material, choice of topics was generally very good, I liked the idea of a number of short lectures, rather than one great blockbuster, the seven week timing is also good as one can make that kind of commitment easily. The IT online delivery worked faultlessly and was easy to work with and like a Kindle, one could easily pick up where you left off which was a great time saver when you're trying to juggle study with a thousand other things.

By david b

Mar 28, 2019

I have only a couple weeks left. This Intro to Philosophy has been enlightening and given me much to contemplate. This was the course I had been burning to take for many years, having always been curious about philosophy. Would be great if there were a follow-up course, delving deeper into these issues. Bravo and thanks a million!

By Charles W

Jun 17, 2020

I did some philosophy courses as part of my undergraduate degree in the late 1960's (yes!)

This course not only refreshed my memory but opened a new way of learning - an approach which of itself was educational (quite apart from the content). For example, I noticed that one of the recommended texts was Russell's "Problems of Philosophy" (published about 100 years ago? - talk about time travel.) Yet the presentations within which those problems were considered were fresh and inspiring.

I would thoroughly recommend this course to anyone - young or old - who is willing to engage with ideas on a basis of interest and challenge. For whatever reasons.

Full marks and fulsome praise to the lecturing staff and all who contributed to this quite wonderful piece of work. I am going now to look at "Ancient Philosophy" before I get too old.

And it's free! Unbelievable!! (In a Victor Meldrew sort of voice.)

By Ganesh C M

Apr 6, 2020

I am a veteran and have not ventured academically in to things other than direct science and technology. I neither have great scholarship in any subject not the intellect for free thinking and holding my own line of thought. Yet, it has been wonderful for me to go through the course and learn about what constitutes PHILOSOPHY as we speak in modern times. I had a whole different notion about the subject especially coming from a family background of traditionally learning class from India. It was some kind of revelation to me that none of what is dealt in philosophical subjects by many wise people from East, seems to be on the radar. I had always believed philosophy would deal with questions related to existence of man, how he must interact with other living and non-living, where does he go upon death, what is rebirth, what is religion, why do religions claim to exist for benefit of mankind and yet fight with each other and questions of this nature. I am better informed and COVID 19 lock down has helped in providing necessary time.

I am profoundly grateful to all the teaching staff who have guided the course through and admire their dedication and efforts. I was teaching some aviation subjects in the Air Force as part of my job as flying instructor and know what is a good teacher. You are all too good.

By richard p

Jan 24, 2019

I found the course to be of very high quality in relation to content,breadth,materials and teaching .Philosophy is a subject far removed from my previous studies and provided a huge stimulus to different thought patterns , logic and concepts. As can be seen I rate the course and the MOOC concept very highly and hugely enjoyable.It has stimulated me ,after a short break, to follow this up with further studies in this subject.Thanks to The University of Edinburgh and to Coursera accordingly.

By Biju A

Apr 25, 2020

Thoroughly enjoyed the course. Professors do a fantastic job surveying with you the landscape of epistemology, metaphysics, ethics, & logic. Complex topics are well illuminated with myriad excellent analogies. Lectures are supplemented by comprehensible notes, & ample first-rate bibliography.

By André R d C

Oct 7, 2019

This is an excellent course for those who wish to perform the first dive in philosophy. The content is wonderful and the teachers are very didactic. I really enjoy my "Introduction to Philosophy"!

By Paul K

Mar 19, 2016

Probably I am biased by just having followed edX's Minds and Machines. Compared to that course, the lectures here are superficial and not very engaging. This becomes especially striking for overlapping topics between the two courses. Also the quizzes are way too easy and you can try until you get it right. This makes the certificate virtually worthless, although you can pay for it.

By Julie P

Jan 18, 2016

I gave this course 5 stars because the content does match the description, a general overview of the topic of Philosophy. It introduces the student to the concepts involved with the study of and the approach to Philosophy from various topics. It does not go into any specific philosophers very deeply, and instead focuses on the general study or overview of what is going on in the "philosophical world" as of 2013. The course has not been updated, from what I can tell from that time.

The Forums are "there" and the class is "supposed" to be live, but it did not have that feel to it. It was more of a "study on your own" experience and yes, we have a forum area. i found it not to be very active after the first week, (introductions were encouraged) but perhaps taking this course over the Christmas holiday (that fell in the middle of the course) was not the best time. I am near the end of the course and have put a lot of time effort and extra reading into it, but it does not seem this will be rewarded i.e by a certificate with distinction, at least there does not seem to be active involvement to that extent. 2-3 of the lectures had "extra"videos" of the professors addressing forum questions, but I do think these were outdated or from the first run of the course (?) as they seems to be talking about topics that were not necessarily in the forums at the time. I cannot determine that for certain, but, it was my impression.

I would HIGHLY suggest purchase of the book that goes with this course, due to week 6, when clearly the topic is not entirely covered in the notes nor the lecture (my opinion only) and the book was needed to get thru the quiz. The professor that week had an accent and spoke very fast, and even listening in a slower speed did not seem to help much. The book is a worthy purchase, look for it on EBAY, or Amazon or a Used Book website. The book does go deeper on all topics and again, especially for week 6 and it is looking like possibly week 7 as well are best studied with the book as well as notes provided by the course.

Again, this is an overview course, and it is interesting. If you are looking to study specific philosophers in depth - this is not the course. It is the course however to take before taking others or to review or learn what is going on in the area this area of study and it did hold my interest.

As others have commented the final week touches upon time travel and the professor has introduced interesting aspects that involve the philosophical in this unit.

Each week a different instructor presents information so you are switching learning styles weekly which is, I think made a more smooth transition if you actually have the book and the chapter that the instructor wrote.

I would recommend it for at least another 6 mo to a year - after that (say 2017 perhaps the lectures should be freshened up, as new information may be out there, or at least they should tape something that says, "yes this was originally taped in 2013, however the info is still on target" or if not then add a lecture that updates the course to the latest in that area of philosophy.

Overall, this being my second Coursera class I have found it to be of high quality, and worthy of my investment to obtain the certificate that is offered. And I do thank all of the professors who participated in this collaboration, it is again, a very interesting course that I think is a "must take" course if one is to really understand what is "going on" with Philosophy.

By Fegie P M

Nov 11, 2016

Our mission for this module is to try and understand a little bit about what philosophy, as a subject, actually is. What makes it different from other subjects? What are its distinctive aims and methods? We'll think about two claims that are often made about philosophy: that it deals with questions that are, in some sense, fundamental; and that it deals with questions that are of some special importance. We'll also look at how philosophy is actually practiced by exploring some of the criteria philosophers bring to bear when assessing the success of philosophical arguments. Finally, we'll finish by briefly thinking about how two very influential philosophers - David Hume (1711-1776) and Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) - attempted to answer the question of how we can know whether, in any given case, there really is a right way of looking at things.


A handout for this module is here.

A large format handout for this module is here.


In addition to the in-video quizzes, there is a short review quiz for this module's material. Also, why not take some time to introduce yourself to your coursemates on the discussion forums, and chat about the lectures from this module. Did anything not make sense? Was there anything you found especially interesting? How would you answer some of the questions raised in the lecture?

Additional Resources

There is an interesting selection of philosophers attempting to give their own definitions of philosophy at Philosophy Bites, here.

For a detailed historical survey of different conceptions of philosophy have a look at this article from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy.

Both of these are excellent resources, and well worth browsing for material relevant to the rest of the course.

If you'd like to think more about the argument concerning free will, then this Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy article is a good place to start.

If you would like to read more about Hume and his work have a look at this article from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, as well as this article from the Internet Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Moreover, If you fancy having a go at reading some of Hume's works you can find selected texts at this page, part of Jonathan Bennett's fantastic project Early Modern Texts.

If you would like to read more about Kant and his work have a look at this article from the Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy. Selected works of Kant can also be found at Early Modern Texts. Be warned, however, they can be pretty heavy going!

For a slightly more irreverent view on Hume, Kant, and the question 'Why do philosophy?' have a listen to the linked podcasts from The Partially Examined Life. Warning: contains occasional strong language!

By Luis L

Mar 11, 2017

This course is really interesting and motivating. Even though it has a very short time for a very complex subject, the different professors have made their best to give a summary which is as complete as possible, being clear and understable at the same time.

I have used mainly the recommended textbook (which I recommend strongly), more than the videos, but the videos are more than enough to understand every session.

If someone is looking for simple answers to complex questions, this is not the course for him/her. But if you want a quick summary of some of the main views related to different philosophical problems, and could be interested in looking for additional information through the recommended bibliography, this course could be a very good starting point.

The possible drawbacks, in my view, would be:

1) The lack of discussion forums.

2) There is very little time for every philosophical problem. It would be really useful to widen the contents of the course using the Bibliography, mainly the online resources.

By Will S

Jun 19, 2020

This broad course on the difficult to grasp topic of Philosophy provided a great introduction to different branches of the study. The lectures were engaging and thought provoking, and the issues and dilemnas brought up really caused me to contemplate questions that I never thought of. A few knocks on the course: first, it doesn't go in depth in any of the topics, opting for more of an arc of topics. Second, most lectures often do not reference famous philosophers and their viewpoints on the topic, though Hume and Kant are mentioned later on. That being said, as a high school freshman, the course was easy enough to grasp, and was a great use of my time.

By Taqi H

Jul 28, 2020

This course gives a deep insight into the different fields and schools of Philosophy that are present today, very nicely even to a complete beginner in the field. The teachers try their best to explain the arguments and problems of both sides, further giving the person better information on the grounds that each school stands. Totally recommended!

By Dimitar B

Aug 18, 2015

The pronunciation of the lectors is more than awful! Their English is quite unsuitable for video lectures! So I quit the course. It is just a torture listening to them!

By Marco

Jul 9, 2020

Very informative and well organised course materials. I recommend this course to learners interested in understanding the fundamental issues in the field of philosophical enquire.