Skip to main content
Unit of study_

PHIL3651: Emotions and Embodied Cognition

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

Students will apply advanced philosophical methods to the understanding of the passions. Students will analyse the most influential theories, historical and contemporary, about how passions function in society. They will evaluate how passions have reflected and interacted with the predominant culture since the early-modern era. Students will learn how to apply their understanding of the passions to the social and political challenges of today.

Unit details and rules

Unit code PHIL3651
Academic unit Philosophy
Credit points 6
12 credit points at 2000 level in Philosophy
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Elena Gordon,
Lecturer(s) Elena Gordon,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment First essay
30% Mid-semester break 1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Take home essay
50% STUVAC 2500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Assignment Submitted Reading Exercise
Submitted reading exercise
20% Week 05 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1

Assessment summary

Detailed information for each assessment can be found on Canvas.

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a high distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100


Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


75 - 84

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


65 - 74

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


50 - 64

Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 Introduction: from emotions to passions Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 02 The Passions and the Mind- Body Problem Lecture (2 hr)  
Selections from Descartes "Passions of the Soul" See CANVAS reading list Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 03 Lisa Shapiro's translator's and editor's preface to Descartes - Princess Elisabeth Correspondence Tutorial (1 hr)  
Mind-Body Morality Lecture (2 hr)  
Week 04 Spinoza on Affects and their Remedies Lecture (2 hr)  
Selections from Spinoza's "Ethics", Part III Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 05 Spinoza on Free Will and Responsibility Lecture (2 hr)  
Letters between Spinoza and Blijenberg - numbers 19-21 Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 06 Hume on Sympathy and Morality Lecture (2 hr)  
1. Hume, David. “Of the love of Fame.”; 2. Hume, David. “Of our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful.”; Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 07 Adam Smith on Sympathy and Morality Lecture (2 hr)  
Selections from Adam Smith's "Theory of Moral Sentiments", Part One, Chapter One, "Of the Sense of Propriety" and Part Five, Chapter Two, "Of the Influence of Custom and Fashion on Moral Sentiments" Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 08 For and Against Empathy Lecture (2 hr)  
See Canvas for reading list: Prince 2009 OR Prince 2011 PLUS Driver 2011 Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 09 Rousseau on Human Nature Lecture (2 hr)  
J.-J. Rousseau "Discourse on the Origins of Inequality" Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 10 Rousseau on Education Lecture (2 hr)  
J.-J. Rousseau, "Emile", Chapter IV Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 11 Wollstonecraft on Social Distinction Lecture (2 hr)  
Wollstonecraft's "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman". Chapter 9. Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 12 Human Enlightenment? Lecture (2 hr)  
I. Kant, "What is Enlightenment?" Tutorial (1 hr)  
Week 13 Essay Workshop, Overflow topics Lecture (2 hr)  
Discussion of essay and unit outcomes. Tutorial (1 hr)  

Attendance and class requirements

  • Attendance: According to Faculty Board Resolutions, students in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences are expected to attend 90% of their classes. If you attend less than 50% of classes, regardless of the reasons, you may be referred to the Examiner’s Board. The Examiner’s Board will decide whether you should pass or fail the unit of study if your attendance falls below this threshold. If a unit of study has a participation mark, your attendance may influence this mark.
  • Lecture recordings: Most lectures (in recording-equipped venues) will be recorded and may be made available to students on Canvas. However, you should not rely on lecture recording to substitute your classroom learning experience.
  • Preparation: Students should commit to spend approximately three hours preparation time (reading, studying, homework, essays, etc.) for every hour of scheduled instruction.

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

Prescribed Readings are listed on Canvas

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. understand the ideas of seventeenth and eighteenth century philosophers and recognise themes that emerged in the early modern era
  • LO2. develop a sophistical understanding of seventeenth and eighteenth century theories of the passions
  • LO3. articulate the role of emotions as guides to the well-being of embodied persons
  • LO4. relate the historical debate about the passions to later theories in moral psychology
  • LO5. discuss the relevance of historical debates within contemporary philosophy
  • LO6. develop enhanced skills in reading, writing and argumentation, offer arguments in a manner that is informed by readings, and pursue effective methods for arguing about difficult philosophical concepts.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

No changes have been made since this unit was last offered

Please refer Canvas for the list of the weekly readings.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.