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Philosophical Skills I


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • first-year students enrolled in the BA programme Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives

  • international pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


This course uses philosophical texts, themes and problems for training a number of basic academic skills, grouped in five modules:

  1. reading and argument analysis: close reading of philosophical sources, identifying arguments, hidden assumptions and flaws of reasoning, summarizing;
  2. introduction to library services: online library tutorial;
  3. argument design: developing a thesis, finding and using supporting evidence, organising ideas with clarity;
  4. research skills: finding information, compiling and referencing bibliographic material;
  5. university-level writing: writing a short academic essay, from first draft to final revision.

The accompanying tutorial sessions aim to acquaint students with ongoing philosophical research. Philosophy is not a stock of wisdom, but an ongoing practice of asking questions. Which are the right questions to ask? How are they interconnected? Can we hope to answer them, and if so, how? In this series of biweekly lectures philosophers of the Leiden Institiute for Philosophy present samples of their ongoing research. The lecture series aims to give first-year students an idea of the handwork of philosophy.

Course objectives

This course aims to train students in a number of basic academic skills for working with philosophical texts, themes and problems.
Additionally, the tutorial aims to acquaint students with ongoing philosophical research.

Students who successfully complete the tutorial sessions will have a good understanding of:

  • examples of ongoing philosophical research projects at Leiden University.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • engage with written philosophical sources;

  • use university library services;

  • design arguments of some complexity;

  • find relevant information, compile and reference bibliographic material;

  • write a short academic essay, from first draft to final revision;

  • describe in their own words examples of ongoing philosophical research.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars (2 hours per week)

  • Tutorials (a series of 6 short lectures, each 1 hour)

Class attendance is required for both lectures and seminars and tutorial.
The tutorial is not mandatory for pre-master's students.

Assessment method


  1. Participation: 10%
  2. Reading and argument analysis: 10%
  3. Online library tutorial: 10%
  4. Argument design: 10%
  5. Information skills: 10%
  6. Final essay: 50%
  7. Written report of one of the tutorial sessions.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average of the subtests (1-6).
Adittionally. the written report of one of the tutorial sessions must be graded as sufficient.

Class attendance is required and is a condition for submission of the paper.


There is no resit for assessment components 1, 3 and 5. Students who fail the course can re-submit improved versions of their submissions for components 2, 4 and 6. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. Moreover, the written report of one of the tutorial sessions must be graded as sufficient in order to pass the course.

Class attendance is required and is a condition for taking the resit.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Required readings will be made available on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. J.D. Raven

Dr. B.J.E. Verbeek (Coordinator tutorial)


Not applicable.