Failing a Level 1 subject in 2nd year

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natman--nye
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Hey folks,

I'm a 2nd year student at Glasgow Uni and my main subjects are History and CEES (Central & Eastern European Studies). I chose Level 1 Philosophy as my 3rd subject and while my main subjects are fine, Philosophy isn't going well at all and I'm really concerned that I won't pass. It's obviously too late to change subject this semester and so I was wondering what would happen if I was to pass everything this year except Level 1 Philosophy? (which I'm only doing this semester) Would I still be able to do Honours and if so could I take on another Level 1 subject in 3rd year to get the necessary credits?

Thanks
Nathan
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European Son
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Basically all you need to do is get a D3 in your first year subject, the mark won't have any impact on entry to honours or on your degree classification overall. However, you do need to get the credits before entering honours (you need a total of 240 credits across the two non-honours years).

Philosophy can be a bit daunting at first if you have no prior background of studying it. Why do you feel you're doing so badly though? The best thing to do is have a chat with your tutor (they're usually really friendly in philosophy) who all have a designated office hour that barely anyone uses but is really helpful for clarifying issues in the course. If your particular tutor isn't approachable you could try the convenor of the course (is it still chris lindsay? he's really cool).
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natman--nye
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(Original post by European Son)
Basically all you need to do is get a D3 in your first year subject, the mark won't have any impact on entry to honours or on your degree classification overall. However, you do need to get the credits before entering honours (you need a total of 240 credits across the two non-honours years).

Philosophy can be a bit daunting at first if you have no prior background of studying it. Why do you feel you're doing so badly though? The best thing to do is have a chat with your tutor (they're usually really friendly in philosophy) who all have a designated office hour that barely anyone uses but is really helpful for clarifying issues in the course. If your particular tutor isn't approachable you could try the convenor of the course (is it still chris lindsay? he's really cool).
Thanks for the reply ES. Yeah you're right it is daunting. Basically I'm having a lot of trouble understanding Descartes and have an essay on him due a week on Thursday. Robert Cowan is the course convenor this year although Chris Lindsay is the lecturer for the Descartes part of the course.
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European Son
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(Original post by natman--nye)
Thanks for the reply ES. Yeah you're right it is daunting. Basically I'm having a lot of trouble understanding Descartes and have an essay on him due a week on Thursday. Robert Cowan is the course convenor this year although Chris Lindsay is the lecturer for the Descartes part of the course.
Out of interest, what's the essay question this year?

Have you read the relevant parts of a secondary text on the meditations?

When you get your marks back, you may find that you've done a lot better than you expected. I think philosophy is one of those subjects where people often feel like they're out of their depth and then realise actually they're not doing too bad.

Something I forgot to mention last time around: the second semester on ethics and politics is actually a lot easier to grasp than first semester. I found ti was a lot more enjoyable too (though that's maybe just because i lean more towards politics/ethics than mind and epistemology stuff)
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natman--nye
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The essay questions this year are:

1. ‘Thus I see clearly that the certainty and truth of all knowledge depends only on the knowledge of the true God in such a way that, before I knew him, I was incapable of knowing anything else perfectly’ (Med. 5)

What role does God’s existence play in Descartes’ arguments in the Meditations? Is Descartes entitled to use God’s existence in this way?

2. In the final Meditation, does Descartes succeed in showing that we can know that the external world exists?

3. Explain and evaluate Descartes’ account of the nature of the self in the Meditations.

I'm leaning towards Question 1 as we've already covered that in the lectures (some of which I missed unfortunately). I have a History essay due a few days after Philosophy so wanting to start the Phil. essay this week. I think the reason for me struggling is I'm focusing too much on "writing philosophically" which the lecturers and tutors keep going on about. I'm usually fine with essays and did well last year but seem to really be struggling with Philosophy and don't find Descartes Meditations to be accessible at all. As for secondary texts, I have borrowed Descartes by Margaret Dauler Wilson from the library.
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European Son
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(Original post by natman--nye)
The essay questions this year are:

1. ‘Thus I see clearly that the certainty and truth of all knowledge depends only on the knowledge of the true God in such a way that, before I knew him, I was incapable of knowing anything else perfectly’ (Med. 5)

What role does God’s existence play in Descartes’ arguments in the Meditations? Is Descartes entitled to use God’s existence in this way?

I'm leaning towards Question 1 as we've already covered that in the lectures (some of which I missed unfortunately).
Ok, feel free to ignore any of this, and it's been a while since i read the meditations, so i'm a little rusty, but i'd say the key thing to note to begin is that the question is in two parts. The first is more or less descriptive, the second part is where the meat of the question is.

I'd spend roughly a 1/3 of the essay describing Descartes' project (why is he doing this in the first place?), how he develops his idea of the existence of God (embracing scepticism, rationalism over empiricism, the cogito, etc.) and how it allows him to start rebuilding his knowledge base.

The second part is really open to a great variety of responses. Always be careful in Philosophy not to be lead by the question. Think about what it's saying - 'Is Descartes entitled to use God’s existence in this way?' You could for isntance argue - no, because he hasn't provided a water tight justification for god's existence in the first place.

To put your mind as ease, as long as you provide a half decent description of the project (pretty easy to do if you read some secondary writing on the meditations) and just have a bash at answering the second part, you'll certainly gain a pass mark.
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natman--nye
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That sounds like a pretty good structure actually. Hoping to have the essay done by Sunday so I can begin to focus on History. Really appreciate your help! Can't wait til next semester when my experience with Philosophy will (hopefully) be over.
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natman--nye
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Received a B3 for my essay which I'm really pleased with. Thanks for your help ES! Would've easily failed otherwise.
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European Son
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Nice one! B3 is a good mark for a first year Philosophy essay. Bit of revision between now and the exam and you're done!
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