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Please ensure you check the module availability box for each module outline, as not all modules will run in each academic year. Each module description relates to the year indicated in the module availability box, and this may change from year to year, due to, for example: changing staff expertise, disciplinary developments, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Current modules are subject to change in light of the ongoing disruption caused by Covid-19.

Type Open
Level 3
Credits 20
Availability Available in 2023/24
Module Cap
Location Durham
Department Philosophy


  • At least one 'Year 2' module in Philosophy.


  • At least one other 'Year 3' module in Philosophy.

Excluded Combinations of Modules

  • None.


  • To provide students with a critical acquaintance with the most important movements in 20th Century European Philosophy, such as transcendental phenomenology, existential phenomenology, hermeneutics, critical theory, structuralism and deconstruction.


  • The authors covered are from a list including: Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Weber, Adorno and the Frankfurt School, Habermas, Gadamer, Foucault, Kristeva, Derrida, Arendt and Wittgenstein.
  • Topics are from a list including:
  • Husserl, the epoche and the transcendental ego
  • Empirical science and the lifeworld
  • Heidegger on being-in-the-world
  • Sartre and Heidegger on mood, angst and 'the nothing'
  • Sartre on interpersonal understanding and interaction
  • Merleau-Ponty on the phenomenological role of the body
  • understanding and the project of hermeneutics
  • the hermeneutic circle
  • archaeologies of madness, the clinic and incarceration
  • genealogy of knowledge
  • knowledge and power
  • truth, lies and hoaxes
  • critique of logocentrism
  • deconstruction
  • bureaucracy
  • the dialectic of the enlightenment
  • the culture industry
  • political art
  • politics and discursive rationality

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:

  • By the end of the module students will have knowledge and understanding of some of the most important movements in recent European Philosophy, and of the historical and cultural contexts in which these have developed.

Subject-specific Skills:

  • correctly utilise specialist vocabulary
  • grasp, analyse, evaluate and deploy subject-specific concepts and arguments
  • locate, understand, assess and utilise pertinent philosophical (and, where appropriate, historical) sources
  • interpret and criticise relevant texts

Key Skills:

  • express themselves clearly and succinctly in writing
  • comprehend complex ideas, propositions and theories
  • defend their opinions by reasoned argument
  • seek out and identify appropriate sources of evidence and information
  • tackle problems in a clear-sighted and logical fashion.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • Lectures deliver basic module-specific information and provide a framework for further study
  • Discussion groups provide opportunities for students to test their own understanding of the material studied, and defend and debate different opinions
  • The formative essay provides the opportunity for students to test their understanding and knowledge of the module content, and their ability to present and critically evaluate relevant arguments and interpretations, uninhibited by the demands of summative assessment.
  • The summative essay tests knowledge and understanding of the course material, and the ability to identify and explain issues covered in the module, and, using relevant research material, to present different approaches to those issues, and make reasoned judgement on the merits and demerits of such approaches.
  • The unseen examination tests students' overall knowledge and understanding of the module content at the end of the module, and their ability to bring it to bear on new problems under pressure of time.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Lectures221 per week1 hour 22 
Discussion groups8Fortnightly1 hour8Yes
Preparation and Reading170 

Summative Assessment

Component: ExaminationComponent Weighting: 60%
ElementLength / DurationElement WeightingResit Opportunity
Two-hour Unseen Written Examination2 hours100 
Component: EssayComponent Weighting: 40%
ElementLength / DurationElement WeightingResit Opportunity
One 2,500 word essay 100 

Formative Assessment

One essay of approximately 2000 words.

More information

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Current Students: Please contact your department.