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Contemporary European Philosophy MA

Mode Duration Attendance Start date
Full time 18 months You will study at Kingston University during the autumn and at University of Paris 8 (Saint-Denis) during the spring, before preparing your dissertation at Kingston and/or Paris September 2017
Part time 30 months Year 1 autumn term at Kingston; variable thereafter, with at least 2 modules completed in each of Kingston and Paris 8 September 2017

Choose Kingston's Contemporary European Philosophy MA

This joint masters programme offers a unique international and interlinguistic orientation in current philosophical work. The course is taught by leading figures in the field of contemporary European philosophy, based at two of its most significant and productive institutions. Full-time students spend the autumn semester at Kingston's Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), and the spring semester at the University of Paris 8 (Saint-Denis).

As a joint European programme, this MA is longer than a standard British MA. Taken over 18 months (from September to the following March), it involves a more specialised study and a more extensive MA dissertation.

  • In preparation for the term in Paris, you can take advantage of free French language tuition in the autumn term through our Kingston Language Scheme.
  • You will benefit from high levels of staff contact from versatile and internationally recognised teaching staff with a range of interests.
  • The CRMEP is arguably the UK's most stimulating and prestigious provider of MA teaching in the field. The philosophy department at Paris 8 was established by Michel Foucault in the aftermath of May 1968 and was shaped by many of the thinkers (Deleuze, Rancière, Badiou, etc) who studied there. Today, Paris 8 remains lively, mindful of its legacy and marked by a distinctive political culture.

What will you study?

In the autumn term, which is taught at Kingston, you will study the Contemporary European Philosophies core module and choose an option module from the full range of philosophy courses offered at Kingston University. In the spring term, which is taught in Paris, you will study modules chosen from those offered by the philosophy department at Paris 8 (including two modules offered by a visiting member of Kingston's CRMEP). You will also take a 'special study' module, based on close engagement with a major contemporary thinker of your choice.

You can write your dissertation in London or Paris, in English or French. Preparation of the dissertation lasts around eight months and involves research skills workshops, group tutorials and individual supervision.


Short exercises, essays, independent study, research skills workshops, and a 20,000-word dissertation.

Course structure

Please note that this is an indicative list of modules and is not intended as a definitive list.

Core modules

  • This module provides students with an opportunity for independent research-based study of a chosen topic under the guidance of an appropriate supervisor. Preparation for the module begins in the autumn, at Kingston, and the coursework is completed in late spring, in Paris.

  • This module involves the guided study of major works of contemporary European philosophy, with a focus on themes of time and temporality, broadly understood. The texts will be drawn from the last couple of decades. The module will analyse texts that explore the tension between historical and political time and experiential temporality. The module will focus on concepts such as epochality, the event, historical time, kairos, messianism, memory, anticipation, and revolution. Authors studied may include thinkers like Agamben, Badiou, Cixous, Derrida, Habermas, Negri, Stiegler and Sloterdijk. The module will study texts in the original language (French, German and Italian) and in English translations where available (and French translations for the German and Italian texts). An adequate reading knowledge of French will be a requirement for registration on the course.

  • This module provides students with an opportunity for intensive and detailed research-based study of their chosen topic under the guidance of an appropriate MA dissertation supervisor.


Optional modules

  • A historical and philosophical introduction to the two main 20th-century traditions of Critical Theory: the Frankfurt School and French anti-humanism. After several works devoted to Kant's conception of freedom and practical philosophy, the module focuses on competing conceptions of critique, practice and empowerment, in, for example, Marx, Lukács, Adorno and Horkheimer, Althusser, Foucault, and one or two more recent thinkers (e.g. Badiou or Rancière).

  • Through our reading of the Phenomenology of Spirit, we will focus on the issue of understanding, more specifically of philosophical understanding. In the Preface, Hegel states that “philosophical writings” “have to be read over and over before they can be understood” (§63). Which specific mental, cognitive and affective operations does such a rereading imply? According to Hegel, our understanding (Verstand) is not, as a faculty, able to give us access to the “concept” (Begriff). What is it that our understanding does not understand? Through despair, doubt, skepticism and pain produced by the resistance of the philosophical statement, something appears — spirit. “Spirit that appears”, such is the meaning of the title Phenomenology of Spirit, such is also the name of the proper philosophical understanding: revelation.

  • This module provides students with a grounding in Kant's philosophy, through detailed study of the Critique of Pure Reason and its competing interpretations. The module presents Kant's critical project as an historical and conceptual basis for the understanding of subsequent European philosophy as a whole.

  • This module provides an introduction to the tradition of philosophical aesthetics through a detailed study of its founding text, Kant's Critique of the Power of Judgement.

  • This module focuses on the question ‘what is involved in a philosophical thinking of the history of art?’ This question devolves into two main parts. The first concerns the temporality proper to art’s history; the second concerns the way in which the individual work of art presents history and the operation of time. The module will concentrate on three figures central to a philosophical thinking of the work of art: Walter Benjamin, Alois Riegel and Aby Warburg. To conclude, we will examine, in detail, three works of contemporary art, traversing painting, sculpture and photography.

  • This module involves guided study of a selection of major works of post-war Italian philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two or more related thinkers. The module will explore the tension in Italian philosophy between the claims of theology and radical politics, one expressed in the turn to bio-philosophy and bio-politics during the 1990s. Thinkers studies include Agamben, Cacciari, Negri  and Esposito. Topics will include: the place of contemporary Italian philosophy with respect to the history of philosophy, its place with respect to French and German philosophy, political theology, time, bio-philosophy and bio-politics. 


Paris 8 module information

Module choices at Paris 8 change each year; details are published at the end of the summer. For an indicative list see the P8 website.

You will have the opportunity to study a foreign language, free of charge, during your time at the University as part of the Kingston Language Scheme. Options currently include: Arabic, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

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This course is taught at Penrhyn Road and Knights Park

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