Durham University
Programme and Module Handbook

Undergraduate Programme and Module Handbook 2017-2018 (archived)


Department: Philosophy


Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2017/18 Module Cap Location Durham


  • At least one Level 2 module in Philosophy OR in the History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine.


  • None.

Excluded Combination 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 and Derrida. 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 hermeneutucs
  • 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

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Lectures 22 1 per week 1 hour 22
Discussion groups 9 Fortnightly 1 hour 9
Preparation and Reading 169
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Examination Component Weighting: 60%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Two-hour Unseen Written Examination 2 hours 100%
Component: Essay Component Weighting: 40%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
One 2,500 word essay 100%

Formative Assessment:

One essay of approximately 2000 words.

Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University