Warning! This unit contains mature content and may not be suitable for some students. Any student under the age of 16 who would like to enrol in this unit must first complete a Parental Consent Form.

Subject details

At the completion on this subject students will be able to:

  1. explain the nature of happiness using concepts drawn from ancient philosophy at an elementary level
  2. discuss how some key modern philosophers have sought to establish the foundations of morality at an elementary level
  3. describe some elements of contemporary theories of justice at an elementary level
  4. evaluate, in an elementary way, contemporary social issues that concern happiness, goodness, or justice, using philosophical ideas and methods.
  5. summarise and explain a philosophical text and its key features at an elementary level
  6. reflect critically on philosophical theories and arguments at an elementary level
  7. construct and defend your own ideas with clarity and rigour, in a logical, structured argument, at an elementary level
  8. engage constructively and respectfully with the views of others, even if you disagree with them.
    • Introduction to Practical Philosophy
    • Epicureanism: Happiness as Pleasure
    • Stoicism: Happiness as Self-containment
    • Happiness and Character: Aristotle's Ethics
    • Morality, Religion and Atheism
    • The Challenge of Moral Relativism
    • Egoism and Self-interest
    • Kant and the Universality of Reason
    • Utilitarianism
    • Justice and Inequality
    • Justice, Immigration and Refugees
    • Climate Change
  • Study resources

    • Instructional methods

      • Discussion forum/Discussion Board
      • Online Quizzes/Tests
      • Online assignment submission
      • Podcasting/Lecture capture
      • Standard Media
      • Web links
    • Online materials

      • Printable format materials
      • Quizzes
      • Resources and Links

Equivalent subjects

You cannot enrol in this subject if you have successfully completed any of the following subject(s) because they are considered academically equivalent:

  • NCCW: MAQ-PHI110


If you have no prior university experience, you should complete BAR100 Academic Learning Skills or COM10006 Academic Literacies: Learning and Communication Practice before starting this subject.

Special requirements

No special requirements

This subject was previously known as PHI110 Philosophy, Morality and Society.

Please note: This subject is available in Macquarie Semester 3, which is an intensive semester that spans only 5 intensive teaching weeks, plus a mid-semester recess and an assessment period. Students are advised to enrol in only one or two subjects in Semester 3. Students who would prefer to take the unit over 13 teaching weeks should enrol in the Semester 2 offering.

This subject provides an introduction to major topics in ethics, moral theory and contemporary political philosophy. The first section focuses on the nature of happiness. Is pleasure essential to happiness? Or does the pursuit of pleasure harm our chances of lasting fulfilment? Must we be virtuous in order to be happy? What is the relationship between happiness and duty? The second section explores the nature of moral goodness. Is morality based ultimately in self-interest? What is the relationship between morality and religion? Are there moral principles that everyone is bound by reason to recognise? Or is the validity of moral standards relative to specific societies and cultures? In the third section we turn to questions of applied political philosophy, focusing on questions such as: What principles should govern the distribution of economic and social resources within a society? What are the obligations of wealthy nations to those less fortunate, including immigrants and refugees? And what issues of justice are raised by climate change?

  • Essay (40%)
  • Online Participation (20%)
  • Weekly Quiz (20%)
  • Reflection Exercise (20%)

Textbook information is pending.

Textbook information is pending.

Related degrees

undergraduate MAQ-ART-DEG-2019

Bachelor of Arts

  • Major in Ancient History
  • Major in English
  • Major in Modern History
  • Major in Philosophy
  • Major in Politics
  • Major in Society and Culture
  • Major in Sociology
  • Major in Creative Writing