PHIL7000 – Research Topics in Philosophy I

2023 – Session 1, Online-scheduled-weekday

General Information

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Unit convenor and teaching staff Unit convenor and teaching staff Convenor; Lecturer
Paul-Mikhail Catapang Podosky
Contact via +61448654281
By appointment
Robert Sinnerbrink
By appointment
Credit points Credit points
Prerequisites Prerequisites
Admission to MRes
Corequisites Corequisites
Co-badged status Co-badged status
Unit description Unit description

This unit will explore various theoretical and practical issues raised by a single important recent theme in philosophy, such as the nature of the self or the impacts of technology. The unit will explore this theme from a variety of perspectives by looking at the relevant metaphysical and epistemological, ethical and moral, and political and social issues it raises. The unit’s topics and themes may differ from year to year but will not replicate those covered in Research Topics in Philosophy II. Students will be exposed to important philosophical debates so that they are able to begin to pursue their own research projects.

Important Academic Dates

Information about important academic dates including deadlines for withdrawing from units are available at

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, you will be able to:

  • ULO1: understand issues discussed in the contemporary philosophical literature
  • ULO2: analyse philosophical arguments
  • ULO3: evaluate philosophical arguments
  • ULO4: communicate clearly your own perspective on the philosophical issues examined in this unit

General Assessment Information

Unless a Special Consideration request has been submitted and approved, a 5% penalty (of the total possible mark) will be applied each day a written assessment is not submitted, up until the 7th day (including weekends). After the 7th day, a mark of‚ 0 (zero) will be awarded even if the assessment is submitted. Submission time for all written assessments is set at 11.55pm. A 1-hour grace period is provided to students who experience a technical issue. 

This late penalty will apply to non-timed sensitive assessment (incl essays, reports, posters, portfolios, journals, recordings etc). Late submission of time sensitive tasks (such as tests/exams, performance assessments/presentations, scheduled practical assessments/labs etc) will only be addressed by the unit convenor in a Special consideration application. Special Consideration outcome may result in a new question or topic. 

Assessment Tasks

Name Weighting Hurdle Due
Participation 20% No On-going
Essay Plan 30% No Sunday, 21st of May (11:55pm)
Essay 50% No Sunday, 4th of June (11:55pm)


Assessment Type 1: Participatory task
Indicative Time on Task 2: 18 hours
Due: On-going
Weighting: 20%


Participation in discussion and associated activities


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • understand issues discussed in the contemporary philosophical literature
  • analyse philosophical arguments
  • evaluate philosophical arguments
  • communicate clearly your own perspective on the philosophical issues examined in this unit

Essay Plan

Assessment Type 1: Plan
Indicative Time on Task 2: 20 hours
Due: Sunday, 21st of May (11:55pm)
Weighting: 30%


Essay Plan


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • understand issues discussed in the contemporary philosophical literature
  • analyse philosophical arguments
  • evaluate philosophical arguments
  • communicate clearly your own perspective on the philosophical issues examined in this unit


Assessment Type 1: Essay
Indicative Time on Task 2: 38 hours
Due: Sunday, 4th of June (11:55pm)
Weighting: 50%


Research essay


On successful completion you will be able to:
  • understand issues discussed in the contemporary philosophical literature
  • analyse philosophical arguments
  • evaluate philosophical arguments
  • communicate clearly your own perspective on the philosophical issues examined in this unit

1 If you need help with your assignment, please contact:

  • the academic teaching staff in your unit for guidance in understanding or completing this type of assessment
  • the Writing Centre for academic skills support.

2 Indicative time-on-task is an estimate of the time required for completion of the assessment task and is subject to individual variation

Delivery and Resources


Required and recommended readings will be made available on Leganto and as advised by lecturers during seminars.


There will be a weekly seminar. 


Much of this unit (assessment instructions, additional reading material, etc.) is delivered online through iLearn ( PC and Internet access are required. Basic computer skills (e.g., internet browsing) and skills in word processing are also a requirement. Please consult teaching staff for any further, more specific requirements. 

Unit Schedule

Weeks: 1 - 6 New Directions in Philosophical Methodology: Conceptual Engineering 

With Dr. Paul-Mikhail Catapang Podosky

Synopsis:  The question of what is contained within the proper bounds of philosophy is contested. In recent history, philosophy was considered, at least for the most part, to be simply conceptual analysis. There are different ways to spell out what this kind of analysis involves, ranging from consulting one's intuitions about the meaning of terms to quasi-empirical investigation into the vagaries of ordinary linguistic usage within a community. In this section of the course, we will explore an emerging form of conceptual analysis that does not strictly concern itself with descriptive questions about the meaning of terms or the content of concepts. It instead asks: What concepts should we have? This way of doing philosophy has been dubbed conceptual engineering. Specifically, we'll examine how conceptual engineering has been used to grapple with core justice-related questions concerning race, gender, sexual orientation, disability, animal ethics, and so forth. We shall also look at how we can implement conceptual innovations in our everyday thinking and speaking practices, and related to the next section, how cinema might play a key role in this process. 


  • Week 1: What is Conceptual Engineering? 
  • Week 2: Political Conceptual Engineering
  • Week 3: Engineering Gender 
  • Week 4: Engineering Race
  • Week 5: Engineering Sexual Orientation, Disability, and Animals 
  • Week 6: The Implementation Challenge


Weeks: 7 - 12 Visible Arguments: Documentary as Philosophy

With Associate Professor Robert Sinnerbrink

Synopsis: In this section of the course we will look at recent philosophical approaches to cinema and the idea of cinematic ethics: cinema as a medium of ethical experience. We commence by examining philosophical and ethical perspectives on documentary before turning to explore a range of contemporary documentaries. We shall focus on a range of philosophical, ethical, political, and ecological topics, problems, and issues through a combination of philosophical readings and film viewings, examining the ways in which non-fictional/documentary films can contribute to philosophical and ethical understanding via cinematic means. 


  • Week 7: What is Documentary? Philosophical and Ethical Perspectives
  • Week 8: Philosophical Documentaries
  • Week 9: Animals on Film I
  • Week 10: Animals on Film II
  • Week 11: Visible Arguments: Hypernormalisation
  • Week 12: Ecocritical Cinema: Ecological Threats and the Anthropocene

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Results published on platform other than eStudent, (eg. iLearn, Coursera etc.) or released directly by your Unit Convenor, are not confirmed as they are subject to final approval by the University. Once approved, final results will be sent to your student email address and will be made available in eStudent. For more information visit or if you are a Global MBA student contact

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Unit information based on version 2023.01R of the Handbook