Metaphysics: An Introduction


Metaphysics is one of the core branches in philosophy and it attracts people's curiosity because it is preoccupied with some of the most general and fundamental questions we humans can ask about reality. Although metaphysical questions often seem simple and unassuming on the face, they are also some of the hardest to answer.

When we look around us we see the world constantly changing. But what is change itself? Why is there something rather than nothing? What is it for something to be an object, and what kinds of objects exist? Are time and space genuine features of reality? Are causal relations real or just human fiction? What does it take for a person to remain the same from birth to old age? Do absences and omissions have any form of existence?

This course will take you on a tour where we explore the metaphysical furniture of the world. It is cast in the analytical tradition.   

Programme details

Courses starts: 28 Sep 2022

Week 1:  Things and their properties

Week 2:  Abstract objects

Week 3:  Mereology

Week 4:  Change

Week 5:  Causation

Week 6:  Time

Week 7:  Personhood

Week 8:  Modality

Week 9:  Nothing

Week 10:  Metaphysics and physics


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 the January 1st after the current full 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 £238.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Julia Weckend

Julia joined the OUDCE in 2014. Her teaching and research interests include the history of philosophy, metaphysics, the philosophy of mind, and epistemology with an emphasis on the analytical tradition.

Course aims

To promote an understanding of some of the central issues in contemporary metaphysics, such as questions about the nature of reality, time, causation, modality, and philosophical stances like realism and anti-realism.

Course Objectives:

(1) to engage with and examine texts and identify and extract key information from them

(2) to discuss central problems and paradoxes in metaphysics. 

(3) to compare and evaluate the different assumptions, attitudes and theories on offer.  


Teaching methods

Interactive lectures supported by powerpoint presentation and extensive handouts. Students  can ask questions throughout and are expected to read in advance of the lectures, take notes and contribute to discussions. 

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

(1) be able to understand and describe the main issues in analytical metaphysics 

(2) articulate the main distinctions and ideas that these issues trade upon 

(3) develop a position of your own and constructively evaluate the positions that have been explored    

Assessment methods

Option A. Assessment will be by means of a portfolio of work constituting what is effectively coursework amounting to 1,500 words in total (for example, three mini essays of 500 words each).

Option B. Assessment will be by means of a single project equating to an essay of 1,500 words, or a verbal presentation of 10 minutes including a set of notes. It is recommended to submit a plan or first draft of the assignment before the end of the course. 

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 - Declaration of Authorship 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

No prior knowledge of philosophy is required, although it helps with coming to grips more quickly when confronting the issues we will discuss.

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)