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MA Continental Philosophy

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  • Objectives
    To provide students of various backgrounds with a rigorous grounding in Continental Philosophy from Kant and Hegel to the present. To present students with the opportunity to engage directly with some of the major texts of the Continental tradition. To offer an introduction to the recent contemporary strands of Continental thought, including phenomenology, hermeneutics, genealogy, deconstruction and Critical theory. To develop students' capacities for independent thought and critical reflection. To develop in students the research skills appropriate to the advanced study of Continental Philosophy, thus providing them with the basis for further progression to a Doctoral degree. The outcomes listed below represent the minimum that might be expected of a graduate student. It is the intention of the Department that the vast majority of graduates will achieve significantly more. Details of the different standards expected for the various classes of degree can be found in the Student Handbook produced annually
  • Entry requirements
    Entry Qualifications BA of Upper Second Class standard in Philosophy or other Humanities subject, or an equivalent qualification. Language requirements: IELTS 7.0 TOEFL 600 and TOEFL (computer) 250 or comparable.
  • Academic Title
    MA Continental Philosophy
  • Course description

    Course Description
    This MA provides students of various backgrounds with a rigorous grounding in Continental Philosophy from Kant and Hegel to the present. With its tailor-made taught courses and Seminar, it offers an introduction to the various strands of Continental thought, including genealogy, phenomenology, hermeneutics, deconstruction and Critical Theory. It combines teaching, which analyses and explains these various traditions of thought, with the experience of reading some of the major works of these traditions in detail. Students will also have the opportunity to study some of the most recent developments in Continental Philosophy.

    Modules and Options

    The lists of modules below represent the range of options available for each year of study. This may not be a complete list of the options you will study, and may be subject to change, so please contact the department for further details.

    Stage 1


    Teaching and Assessment Methods

    by the Department of Philosophy.

    A: Knowledge and Understanding
        Learning Outcomes
        A1 : Knowledge of some of Kant's work and/or of that of some of the main figures in the post-Kantian tradition.
        A2 : Knowledge of the key issues and methods in the Post-Kantian tradition.
        A3 : Ability to engage critically with the main texts and the secondary literature pertaining to them.
        A4 : Awareness of the more recent debates in Continental philosophy, ability to recontextualise them within the tradition and to form an educated judgement on the relevant issues.
        A5 : Ability to form and present personal, if possible original, views on philosophical issues arising from the Continental tradition.

        Teaching Methods
        Outcomes A1-A5 are acquired through attendance and participation in the compuslory/recommended modules and in the MA Seminars in Continental Philosophy. Reading is carefully selected in advance for each session, and students are expected to have assimilated the appropriate passages prior to coming to class. The lecture/seminar is followed by a one hour discussion, during which students are given the opportunity to ask and answer questions, voice theoretical concerns, raise additional issues. Students are sometimes asked to give short non-assessed presentations, followed by discussions. This provides the opportunity for an informal assessment of their oral and argumentative skills.

        Outcomes A1-A5 are also fostered by means of the Departmental seminars, during which speakers, sometime world-known specialists, give presentations followed by open discussions. The Department also organises a yearly mini-course, during which a specialist of international renown is asked to teach a series of classes on a specific topic. Students also prepare a dissertation on a topic of their choice which is individually supervised.

        Assessment Methods
        Outcomes A1-A5 are formally assessed in all modules by means of written coursework. Formal assessment is also carried out through the marking of the final dissertation (independently marked by two examiners, neither of which is the student's supervisor).

    B: Intellectual/Cognitive Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        B1 : Ability to identify complex arguments and to present one's own evaluation of them.
        B2 : Ability to use and criticise specialised philosophical terminology.
        B3 : Ability to identify underlying issues in philosophical texts, debates and arguments, and to highlight deficiencies such as unquestioned assumptions, superficial analogies and unsubstantiated claims.
        B4 : Ability to summarise complex and demanding texts, often written at historical distance, and to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the views they propose.
        B5 : Ability to demonstrate self direction and originality in tackling and solving problems, and in commenting on complex information.
        B6 : Ability to plan and conduct (under the guidance of a supervisor) a piece of independent research, and to present it in a coherent and argumentative manner.

        Teaching Methods
        Skills B1-B3 are developed in all compulsory/recommended modules and in the MA seminars by means of teaching, discussion and assigned oral presentations on topics chosen by the students. These skills are also developed during the classes and seminar, where students receive feedback on their presentations and are strongly encouraged to partake in discussion.

        Skills B4-B6 are developed through essay writing, and mostly through the exercise of selecting and pursuing a dissertation topic that engages with a specific author/problem within the context of the Continental tradition. These skills are also fostered by supervisory sessions during the preparation of dissertations.

        Assessment Methods
        Skills B1-B3 are assessed by means of the essays written during the year by the students. Skills B4-B6 are formally assessed through the marking of essays and of the dissertation.

    C: Practical Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        C1 : Ability for students to express themselves in a clear, argumentative and rigorous way.
        C2 : Ability to abstract and synthesize relevant information from a range of sources, including books, journal articles, library and internet resources.
        C3 : Ability to select their own topic and structure a substantial piece of independent study (the dissertation).

        Teaching Methods
        Skills C1 and C2 are developed by means of active participation in the seminars. Personal supervision is also available to students in order to develop their own topic for each of the essays they have to write. Considerable autonomy is encouraged in researching essays, the staff member aiming to assist in the formulation of research questions and in developing a strategy for answering them. All students are encouraged to attend the departmental seminars, and to participate in debate on the topic presented. Re: skill C3, during the spring term students select their prospective dissertation topic and meet regularly with their chosen supervisor. Additionally, there are detailed guidelines on the writing of MA dissertations in the departmental handbook to supplement guidance given by the supervisor. All three skills are informally assessed through class based work and discussion.

        Assessment Methods
        Skills C1 and C2 are assessed by means of coursework marking. Skill C3 is assessed by the dissertation, which is double-marked.

    D: Key Skills
        Learning Outcomes
        D1 : Ability to write clearly and to communicate one's ideas to an audience.
        D2 : Use of relevant information technology to research and present written work (including searchable databases such as library catalogues, internet sources, the Philosopher's Index, etc.).
        D4 : At the end of the course, students should have become able to: -identify the problems to be solved; -articulate critically the assumptions underlying or connected with the problem; -compare and contrast differing and often contradictory solutions to the problem; -provide arguments in evidence and defence of one's solution to the problem.
        D6 : Students should have become able to: -organise their work within deadlines; -select and organise their reading in relation to specific topics; -reflect on their own learning and performance and make constructive use of feedback; -learn independently.

        Teaching Methods
        Skills D1 and D4: all courses require students to participate actively in discussion. They also require students to work independently on essays as well as on their dissertation. These have to be structured in an argumentative manner, and the arguments have to be supported by appropriate quotes or examples. Students also learn to express their views concisely and clearly when discussing the topics of their choice with their lecturers, and during supervisory sessions for the structuring and writing of the dissertation.

        Skill D2 is developed by students themselves while they do the preparatory work for their essays and dissertation. They are encouraged to use the University key skills on-line package, library searches and internet philosophy resources.

        Skills D6 are developed by students during the course, by means of the research they do for the writing of their essays and dissertation. Special emphasis is placed on feedback in the detailed comment sheets that accompany each marked essay.

        Assessment Methods
        All skills are assessed through continuous coursework, and by the marking of the dissertation by two independent examiners, neither of whom is the student's supervisor.

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