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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

PRHS3100 Existentialism and Phenomenology

20 creditsClass Size: 70

Module manager: Dr Stefan Skrimshire

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Module replaces


This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Existentialism and Phenomenology encompass a large, influential and diverse group of thinkers from the 19th and 20th century who radically challenged the foundations, method and style of the western philosophical tradition. Each attempted to address the nature and meaning of human existence from the perspective of first person experience, returning to fundamental questions of being, perception, value, and faith. They are also known for critically engaging with the world of politics, art, religion and psychology. This module will give students the opportunity to critically examine the work of some of the most important continental European philosophers (e.g. Husserl, Heidegger, Kierkegaard, Levinas, Sartre, Camus, Beauvoir; Fanon). Students will critically discuss, with their peers and in formative assessment, the treatment of major themes in existentialist and phenomenological thought (care; anxiety; death; temporality; absurdity; ethics of the other; the death of God; race and gender) and their critique in some key texts from structuralism and deconstruction.


- To gain critical awareness of the importance of 19thC and 20thC existentialism and phenomenology for the wider history of philosophy.
- To advance skills in reading, digesting, and critically discussing a range of important and challenging philosophical texts.
- To appreciate and comprehend aspects of style, method and content that are particular to the continental European tradition, including the role of literature, theatre film and art in philosophical exposition.
- To debate the relevance of key themes in existentialism and phenomenology for other branches of study in philosophy, such as ethics, aesthetics, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, political philosophy.
- To assess the major criticisms of existentialist and phenomenological thought in twentieth century French philosophy and beyond.
- To assess the continued relevance of existentialist themes for political, cultural, religious and ethical critique in modern society.

Learning outcomes
By the end of the module students will have:
- Understood and critically engaged with the method and arguments of a number of key philosophical thinkers in the existentialist and phenomenological traditions.
- Demonstrated knowledge of key philosophical texts studied in the course.
- Critically assessed the validity and continued relevance of existentialist and phenomenology for current debates in ethics, religion, politics, and culture.

Skills outcomes
Appreciation of a continental philosophical tradition


12 hours of lectures and student led tutorials will cover the following indicative a) thinkers and b) themes:
Kierkegaard on Anxiety and the Self
Nietzsche on the Death of God
Heidegger on Authenticity
Sartre on Freedom
Levinas on the Other
De Beauvoir on Gender
Fanon on Race
Foucault and Butler on the Body

Introduction to studying Continental European Philosophy
Ethics and Political Activism
The critique of phenomenology

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Students are required to read and comment upon weekly readings, as well as researching recommended secondary source material.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

The module leader will comment and contribute, where relevant, on the online group discussions throughout the module.
Comments on draft essay plans will be offered to students up to the final week of the module.
Monitoring of progress via one to one tutorials will be made available during module tutor’s office hour.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3000 Word Essay70.00
Online AssessmentDiscussion Board Contributions30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 14/08/2018


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