University of the West of England


(Revised October 2005)

Code: UPZPRC-30-3 Title: Contemporary Continental Philosophy Version: 2

Level: 3 UWE credit rating: 30 ECTS credit rating: 15

Module type: Standard

Owning Faculty: HLSS Field: CMS

Valid from: September 05 Discontinued from:

Contributes towards: BA (Hons)

Pre-requisites: Introduction to Philosophical Studies I: Theoretical Philosophy or Introduction to Philosophical Studies II: Practical Philosophy; Metaphysics

Co-requisites: None

Excluded combinations: None

Learning outcomes:

On completion of this module, students should be able to demonstrate:

1. the ability to use a range of logical, analytic and theoretical tools in the analysis of philosophical problems (assessed through presentation and essays);

2. the ability to present and analyse arguments at an advanced level (assessed through presentation and essays);

3. knowledge of the development of the major schools of post-1900 European philosophy (assessed through presentation and essays).

Syllabus outline:

This module provides an option for students to conduct specialist studies in the field of Contemporary Continental Philosophy. Covering one of the richest areas of contemporary philosophical activity, this module will provide students with an overview of the history of continental philosophy after 1900, as well as detailed analyses of its major internal movements: Phenomenology, Existentialism, Deconstruction, and Contemporary Problems. Students will examine a combination of primary texts and philosophical problems deriving from them. In addition, since there is a vast amount of current research underway in this area, students will acquire an understanding of the most important trajectories being pursued in philosophy. At one level, this module is a primer for further philosophical researches; at another, it is a survey of some of the most foundational works for the contemporary humanities and social sciences.

Teaching and learning methods:

Teaching will be by lecture and seminar. Following the first two weeks, which introduce the defining characteristics of continental philosophy, the module is divided into four blocks of five weeks each, with three blocks devoted to specific schools or movements, and the final one focussing on the current philosophical landscape. Because the seminars will begin with developing students’ abilities to get to grips with philosophical problems independently, students will be encouraged to lead the seminars from the earliest possible stage, effectively turning them into self-organised reading groups. These groups are self-organising in that they will focus around those texts in which students display the most interest.

Reading Strategy

Students are required to purchase selected Primary Texts, since they form the object of intensive scrutiny. Students are further encouraged, since the objective of the module is Contemporary Continental Philosophy in general, to follow specific connections and influences between the Primary Texts and other surrounding material. Mention is made of these during teaching sessions In consequence, as students follow up these indications through selecting and presenting further reading, this module encourages a reflexive ‘ownership’ of their reading practises.

Indicative Reading List:

The following list is offered to provide validation panels/accrediting bodies with an indication of the type and level of information students may be expected to consult. As such, its currency may wane during the life span of the module specification. However, as indicated above, CURRENT advice on readings will be available via other more frequently updated mechanisms.

Introductory and Reference:

Vincent Descombes, Modern French Philosophy (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1980).

Simon Critchley, Continental Philosophy. A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001).

Simon Critchley, ed., Companion to Continental Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

Primary Texts May Include:

Alain Badiou, Manifesto for Philosophy (Albany NY: State University of New York Press, 1999).

Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena and other essays on Husserl’s Theory of Signs (Evanston, ILL: Northwestern University Press, 1973).

Martin Heidegger, Being and Time (Oxford: Blackwell, 1962).

Edmund Husserl, Cartesian Meditations (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1977).

Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1997).

Maurice Merleau-Ponty, The Visible and the Invisible (Evanston ILL: Northwestern University Press, 1980).

Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What is Philosophy? (London: Verso, 1993)


Weighting between components A and B (standard modules only) A: 25% B: 75%


First Assessment Opportunity

Component A

Description of each element Element weighting

1. Presentation 25%

Component B Element weighting

1. 2,000 word essay 35%

2 2,500 word essay 40%

Second Assessment Opportunity (further attendance at taught classes is/is not required)

Component A

Description of each element Element weighting

1. Examination (1.5 hours) 25%

Component B

Description of each element Element weighting

1. 2,000 word essay 35%

2. 2,500 word essay 40%

Specification confirmed by …………………………………………………Date ……………………………

(Associate Dean/Programme Director)

Back to top