Course content

Course content

Exphil provides an introduction to basic philosophical questions about knowledge and ethics. The course consists of three main parts, corresponding to the three themes: knowing, being and doing. Part one concerns knowledge, especially what it means to have scientific knowledge. Part two addresses questions about reality, and what we can have knowledge of. Part three deals with morality: what has value, how we should act, and how we can have knowledge about this.

Exphil highlights contributions from the history of philosophy and science that are particularly suitable for illuminating the basis of scientific thinking and the philosophical assumptions of science. Theories of normative ethics and questions in metaethics and applied ethics are addressed. Ethical dilemmas related to human existence, questions about the legitimacy of the state, and what constitutes a cultural community of values are discussed. Students are introduced to topics that provide tools for understanding and contextualizing challenges that arise in all fields of study. In addition to perspectives from classical and contemporary thinkers, the central themes are also examined in the light of a gender and environmental perspective.

In all three parts, the syllabus is presented through original texts and introductory texts.

Both a self-study variant and a seminar variant of the course are offered. These variants are offered in both Norwegian and English. Read more under "Learning outcome".


Learning outcome

Through studies of the texts, the students will gain an understanding of key issues among thinkers in the philosophy and science tradition, especially in connection with science, cognition, and ethics. This provides a basis for reflecting on theoretical and ethical problems that may be encountered in a university context and in society in general. The purpose is to develop students' ability to relate reflectively to the knowledge and the sciences today.

For all parts of the syllabus, students must:

•             be able to recognize, compare and discuss different positions within the different areas that are addressed

•             be able to identify points of view, arguments, and structures in a scientific text

•             demonstrate skills in structuring the material and presenting writing in accordance with regular academic standards and citation practices


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.


Recommended previous knowledge

A good ability to read and understand English is required for this course.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with EXPHIL03E – Examen philosophicum - English option (discontinued)


This course has the form of lectures combined with seminar classes. There are a total of 20 lectures, for the most part twice a week for 10 weeks. The lectures are open and attendance is voluntary but highly recommended. The seminar classes require registration. Seminar classes meet every second week, for at total of seven classes. Students are expected to participate actively during classes.

You will be asked to submit two assignments which are both compulsory. On the first assignment, your teacher will give feedback to the seminar group as a whole. On the second assignment, your teacher will give feedback to students individully. Both assignments must be approved by the teacher. Approval is based on formal criteria. If your assignment is not approved, you will not be allowed to hand it in a second time.

Compulsory tuition activities

  • Submission and approval of two written assignments
  • Attendance at the seminar classes (a minimum of four of the first six seminary classes).

Approved compulsory tuition activities are prerequisites for being allowed to sit for the final examination. In this course, all compulsory activities must be completed and approved the same semester you wish to sit for the exam. In the event of illness, the same rules apply as regarding non-attendance at an examination. If you realise that you are prevented handing in an assignment, we also ask you to contact us before the deadline.


The examination is a digital home examination in which you:

  • submit the final version of an assignment based on the second of the two written assignments submitted during the semester
  • answer exam questions

To have a final pass grade on the course, you must both upload the assignment and answer exam questions.

Assignments previously given for the two hour home examination.

Students who do not have all their compulsory teaching activities approved, will be transferred to a single, 4-hour home exam.

Assignments previously given for the four hour examination.

Language of examination

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or English.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Please refer to the semester pages for the deadline for withdrawal from the examination.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.

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Facts about this course






Spring and autumn


Spring and autumn

Teaching language


Emnet tilbys både på norsk og engelsk