Professional course

Research Methods in Virtual Worlds

15 credit Master's level module

About this course

Course code:
Professional/Short Course
Education and Childhood

Page last updated 5 October 2016


Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to demonstrate:

Their ability to distinguish, understand and articulate philosophical problems and argument.

Their critical understanding of one or more philosophers whose work has relevance to the understanding of virtual worlds.

Their critical understanding of some key philosophical problems raised by virtual worlds. These problems might be metaphysical, epistemological or ethical in character.

Their critical understanding of areas where virtual worlds may throw light on related areas of philosophy such as the philosophy of mind and/or philosophy of science.



The programme will address the conventional sub-divisions of philosophy as they apply to the specific area of virtual worlds. Broadly - the module will address issues such as:

Metaphysical What special problems with respect to 'reality" and 'existence" do virtual worlds pose? An example here might be the possible challenge posed to materialist or physicalist ontologies by virtual 'reality'. Engagement with phenomenalist idealism such as that of George Berkeley, or the process ontology of Alfred North Whitehead might be illuminating here.

Epistemological What special problems with respect to reliable 'knowledge" do virtual worlds pose? An example here might be a possible challenge to realist and representationalist epistemologies. Engagement with French 20th century epistemology from Canguilhem to Foucault might be very interesting in this context.

Ethical what special problems with respect to how humans should live are posed by virtual worlds? For example - can conventional moral philosophies such as utilitiarianism and Kantian deontology be applied without modification in this context? How does the environment of connectivity, anonymity and relatively unregulated communication and creativity effect conventional normative concepts of such as trust, duty, rights, responsibility, accountability and so on. Can they even apply in such a context?

Specialised areas - What are the areas of philosophy on which the experience of virtual worlds can throw new light? This will include areas such as our understanding of problems of mind and embodiment, and the relationship of science and technology to human experience and subjectivity? Rich areas to explore in this context would be Andy Clark's work on the technological extension of human consciousness, and Evan Thompson's work on phenomenology and self-organisation.

The module will attempt to address such problems through engagement with a range of important philosophical texts. These texts will not necessarily be, themselves, directed towards the theme of virtual worlds. Rather the students task will be to use these philosophical tools for the purpose of developing their own understanding of virtual worlds from a philosophical point of view.

Prices and dates

Supplementary fee information

£300.00 with assessment
£150.00 without assessment


How to apply

How to apply

You will apply online for your CPD modules, which you can take as stand-alone courses or as part of an undergraduate or postgraduate (Masters level) programme.

For further information

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