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  • Modern European Philosophy MA

Modern European Philosophy MA

Why choose this course?

This Modern European Philosophy MA course is recognised as one of the most challenging and stimulating philosophy masters programmes in the UK. Based on a focused study of the fundamental texts of the modern European philosophical tradition, it provides an ideal preparation for doctoral research in philosophy or related fields in the humanities and social sciences. It will also prepare graduates for a wide range of careers in education, the arts, politics and public policy.

Beginning with a foundation module on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, the course adopts Kant's critical philosophy as a historical and conceptual basis for the understanding of subsequent European philosophy as a whole. Other major authors studied include Hegel, Marx, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Depending on the optional modules you choose, more recent figures that you will engage with include Adorno, Lacan, Althusser, Negri, Deleuze, Butler, Agamben, Spivak, Badiou, and Rancière.

In addition to focused modules on Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche and Heidegger, you may also choose from a wide range of modules dealing on contemporary philosophy, critical theory, psychoanalysis, contemporary art, and so on.

Mode Duration Start date
Full time 1 year September 2020
Full time 2 years including professional placement September 2020
Part time 2 years September 2020
Location Penrhyn Road

Reasons to choose Kingston University

  • The course is based at the UK's leading Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), where you will be part of a large, supportive and stimulating postgraduate community.
  • You will be able to participate in research events with international speakers, and have easy access to London's research libraries and events.
  • There are high levels of staff-student contact, including individual tutorials, from versatile and internationally recognised teaching staff with a wide range of interests, projects and publications.

What you will study

This course engages in depth with fundamental texts in modern European philosophy, including Kant, Hegel and Marx through to contemporary thinkers more recently.

Comprising four taught modules and a dissertation on a topic of your choice, you'll have the opportunity to study 19th- and 20th-century European philosophy in a structured way, concentrating on the interpretation and analysis of key texts, and on the legacy of foundational figures in the field.

You can choose from a wide range of module options, balanced by a shared central core of texts, concepts and problems.

You'll take one core taught module worth 30 credits, and then choose three other 30-credit modules from a range of options, before preparing the 15,000 word dissertation (worth 60 credits).

Modules

Additional year

You will pay particular attention to the influence of Kant's philosophy and to the debates that structured the development of post-Kantian philosophy in both Germany and France.

Core modules

Kant and his Legacy

30 credits

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.

Philosophy Dissertation

60 credits

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

Optional modules (The optional modules vary from year to year.)

Art Theory: Modernism, Avant-Garde, Contemporary

30 credits

Based on a study of artists' texts, art criticism, art history and philosophical writings on art, this module comprises a critical examination of the legacy and possibilities of modernist and avant-garde criticism in contemporary art theory. As well as introducing you to some of the major texts and ideas in these traditions of art theory and art criticism, the modules aims to enable you to reflect critically on works of contemporary art in the light of your study.

Contemporary European Philosophies

30 credits

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.

Critique, Practice, Power

30 credits

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).

German Critical Theory

30 credits

This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century German critical theory or philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two or more related thinkers, such as Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Habermas, Sloterdijk. Indicative topics include: critique of enlightenment, philosophy of history, the non-identical, dialectics, materialism, reification, freedom, communicative reason and the philosophical response to the Shoah.

Hegel and his Legacy

30 credits

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.

Kant and the Aesthetic Tradition

30 credits

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.

Nietzsche and Heidegger

30 credits

This module offers students an opportunity to study major works by Nietzsche and Heidegger. In particular it considers the relationship between Nietzsche's critique of metaphysics as the manifestation of an ascetic 'will to truth' and Heidegger's project of 'dismantling' and 'overcoming' metaphysics in light of a renewal of the question of being.

Philosophy and Psychoanalysis

30 credits

Each year this module focusses on a study of a different selection of Freud's major and minor works, mining them for their philosophical significance and reflecting on the implications of psychoanalysis for philosophy, particularly in relation to the philosophical notion of the subject. Where appropriate the module will discuss the critical development of this theoretical framework by psychoanalysts such as Jacques Lacan and Jean Laplanche, its reception and deployment in the tradition of Freudo-Marxist critical theory, and the theoretical transformation and political critique of Freudian theory in feminist and queer theory.

Plasticity and Form

30 credits

This module aims to investigate, via the concept of plasticity, the relations between 'thought' and 'form, that have structured certain central aspects of nineteenth and twentieth-century 'continental' philosophy. Each year, these relations are studied from a different point of view, and in relation to different thinkers. Thinkers covered might include Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Foucault and Derrida. Each year the locus of study might include broad areas such as 'writing' (in Derrida's sense), 'literature' (Dichtung), 'habit', and 'trace'.

Political Philosophy

30 credits

This module involves guided study of one or more major works of modern political philosophy. Texts and themes vary from year to year, but possible topics include: power, class, the state, sovereignty, government, organisation, institution, constitution, representation, democracy, ideology, property, mode of production, capitalism, colonialism, slavery, violence, subjection, nature, citizenship, law, rights, difference, justice, legitimacy, insurrection, insurgency, revolution, resistance, and so on. Approaches to the material will be filtered through contemporary debates in European philosophy and critical theory, with reference to figures like Agamben, Foucault, Negri or Rancière; primary texts may include canonical works by Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Rousseau, Hume, Kant, Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Marx, as well as material associated with major political sequences like the revolutions in France, the Americas, Russia, Cuba, and so on, or with more recent sequences like the anti-colonial struggles, May 68, or social mobilisations around questions of race, sex, class, debt, etc. 

Recent French Philosophy

30 credits

This module involves guided study of two or three major works of twentieth-century French philosophy, focusing each year on the work of two related thinkers. Possible topics include: Sartre or de Beauvoir's existentialism, Levinasian ethics, Merleau-Ponty's theory of embodied perception, Foucault's theory of power, Derrida's practice of deconstruction, Deleuze's conception of difference, Badiou's concepts of the subject and truth.

Recent Italian Philosophy

30 credits

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. 

Topics in Modern European Philosophy

30 credits

Each year this module involves guided study of major works from the tradition of Modern European Philosophy, focussing either on a single text or on a range of texts in relation to a theme. The module offers students the opportunity to undertake intensive study under the guidance of a Professor – Étienne Balibar – who is himself a major thinker in the Modern European Tradition. Past topics have included Althusser, the dispute over humanism and the idea of a philosophical anthropology and the reception of Das Kapital in the Western Marxist Tradition. The content of the module changes each year, determined by the research expertise of the module tutor.

Many postgraduate courses at Kingston University allow students to do a 12-month work placement as part of their course. The responsibility for finding the work placement is with the student; we cannot guarantee the work placement, just the opportunity to undertake it. As the work placement is an assessed part of the course, it is covered by a student's tier 4 visa.

Invoicing on the placement courses is split into two stages. The standard course fee is payable in year 1 with the placement fee invoiced in year 2. Therefore, students starting in September 2019 would be charged the provisional placement fee of £1,350 in September 2020.

This amount will only be charged to your account after you find a placement and are enrolled on the module. You will not be charged this fee if you do not manage to secure a work placement.

Find out more about the postgraduate work placement scheme.

The information above reflects the currently intended course structure and module details. Updates may be made on an annual basis and revised details will be published through Programme Specifications ahead of each academic year. The regulations governing this course are available on our website. If we have insufficient numbers of students interested in an optional module, this may not be offered.

Entry requirements

Typical offer

Applicants should normally hold a good (upper-second [2:1] or first-class honours, or the equivalent) undergraduate degree in Philosophy or a related subject. 

Applicants with other kinds of qualifications will be considered on an individual basis.

International

All non-UK applicants must meet our English language requirement, which is Academic IELTS of 6.5 overall, with no element below 5.5. Make sure you read our full guidance about English language requirements, which includes details of other qualifications we consider.

Applicants who do not meet the English language requirements could be eligible to join our pre-sessional English language course.

Applicants from a recognised majority English speaking countries (MESCs) do not need to meet these requirements.

Teaching and assessment

The course is delivered through relatively small seminars, which involve a mixture of structured lectures or presentations, textual analysis, and group discussion.

Guided independent study

When not attending timetabled sessions you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. This typically involves reading and analysing articles, regulations, policy document and key texts, documenting individual projects, preparing coursework assignments and completing your PEDRs, etc.

Your independent learning is supported by a range of excellent facilities including online resources, the library and CANVAS, the University's online virtual learning platform.

Support for postgraduate students

At Kingston University, we know that postgraduate students have particular needs and therefore we have a range of support available to help you during your time here.

Your workload

Year 1: 70% of your time is spent in timetabled teaching and learning activity.

  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 627 hours
  • Guided independent study: 273 hours

Contact hours may vary depending on your modules.

Type of teaching and learning

Type of teaching and learning
  • Scheduled teaching and learning: 627 hours
  • Guided independent study: 273 hours

How you will be assessed

You'll be assessed through short exercises, essays, independent study, and a 15,000-word dissertation.

For this course you will be assessed entirely on submitted coursework (i.e. there are no exams, and no assessed oral presentations or practical components).

Type of assessment

Type of assessment
  • Coursework: 100%

Feedback summary

We aim to provide feedback on assessments within 20 working days.

Class sizes

To give you an indication of class sizes, this course normally enrols 10 to 12 students and module group sizes are normally 8 to 15 (plus other students who might be sitting in). However this can vary by module and academic year.

Who teaches this course?

This course is taught by leading specialists at the internationally renowned Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy

Since its inception in 1994, the CRMEP has developed a national and international reputation for teaching and research in the field of post-Kantian European philosophy, characterised by a strong emphasis on broad cultural and intellectual contexts and a distinctive sense of social and political engagement.

In each of the last two research assessment exercises, RAE 2008 and REF2014, 65% of the research activities of the CRMEP were judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', with 25% of its outputs for REF2014 judged 'world-leading'.

Fees for this course

Home and European Union 2020/21

  • MA full time £6,900
  • MA part time £3,795

Overseas (not EU) 2020/21

  • MA full time £14,500
  • MA part time £7,975

Funding and bursaries

Applicants to any of the CRMEP MA programmes will be considered automatically for one of three prize scholarships, so long as they apply before the end of April in any given academic year. These scholarships are worth £2000 each, and are awarded as a partial fee waiver. 

All applicants are also welcome to apply for one of Kingston's Annual Fund scholarships, worth £3000. International students can also apply for an International Scholarship, worth £2000.

Facilities

The campus at Penrhyn Road is a hive of activity, housing the main student restaurant, the extensive learning resources centre (LRC), and a host of teaching rooms and lecture theatres.

The LRC provides books, journals, computers and a range of learning environments organised into silent, quiet and group study zones. It has long opening hours with 24 hour opening during key teaching weeks (October to June).

There are seven bookable group study rooms for when you need to work together. The large Learning Cafe serves light snacks and drinks.

At the heart of the campus is the John Galsworthy building, a six-storey complex that brings together lecture theatres, flexible teaching space and information technology suites around a landscaped courtyard.

After you graduate

Our graduates often progress to research degrees in European philosophy and critical theory, or to careers in media/journalism, publishing, the arts, education, and public policy.

A sampling of graduate destinations for alumni of the MA in Modern European Philosophy include:

  • Andrew Bevan (MA 2015) began a PhD at CRMEP in autumn 2015 having been awarded a TECHNE-AHRC Consortium Studentship.
  • Charlie Clarke (MA 2014) is a trainee at the Philosophy Foundation.
  • Alex Ressel (MA 2014) is an associate artist at Open School East.
  • Daniel Nemenyi (MA 2013) was awarded a 3-year PhD AHRC Studentship by the TECHNE consortium, to work on 'What is the Internet? An Ontological Investigation' in the CRMEP.
  • Steve Howard (MA 2013) won an AHRC Studentship for a PhD in the CRMEP on Kant, force and dynamism.
  • Jussi Palmusaari (MA 2012) won a scholarship for a PhD in the CRMEP on Althusser and Rancière. He is co-translating Carl Schmitt's Der Begriff des Politischen into Finnish.
  • Vangeesa Sumanasekara (MA 2012) is working as a visiting lecturer in the universities of Kelaniya and Sri Jayawardenapura, in Sri Lanka. Earlier in 2013 he had formed, with a group of others, 'Philosophy and the Arts Collective' (PAC), an organisation devoted to promote philosophy in Sri Lanka. He has translated Quentin Meillassoux's After Finitude into Sinhala and is currently working on a translation of Catherine Malabou's Ontology of the Accident.

Links with business, industry and the research environment

The Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP) organises regular research seminars, conferences or workshops each year.

Research seminars are usually held every fortnight during term time; recent speakers have included:

  • Giorgio Agamben (University of Paris 8);
  • Emily Apter (New York University);
  • Antonia Birnbaum (University of Paris-8);
  • Barbara Cassin (CNRS);
  • Miguel de Beistegui (University of Warwick);
  • Peter Dews (University of Essex);
  • Donna Haraway (University of California, Santa Cruz);
  • Sandra Harding (University of California, LA);
  • Stephen Houlgate (University of Warwick);
  • Kojin Karatani (Columbia University);
  • Koichiro Kokubun (Tokyo Institute of Technology);
  • Quentin Meillassoux (École Normale Supérieure);
  • Nina Power (Roehampton University);
  • Isabelle Stengers (Université Libre de Bruxelles);
  • Philippe Van Haute (Radboud University, Nijmegen);
  • Slavoj Zizek (Institute for Social Studies Ljubljana);
  • Alenka Zupancic (Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts).

Research areas

This Modern European Philosophy MA course is taught by internationally recognised specialists at the Centre for Research in Modern European Philosophy (CRMEP), which has a national and international reputation for teaching and research in the field of post-Kantian European philosophy.

In each of the last two research assessment exercises, RAE 2008 and REF2014, 65% of the research activities of the CRMEP were judged 'world-leading' or 'internationally excellent', with 25% of its outputs for REF2014 judged 'world-leading'.

Our research areas include:

  • modern European philosophy from the eighteenth century to the present;
  • Kant, Hegel, and German Idealism;
  • Marx and Marxism;
  • Frankfurt School critical theory;
  • philosophies of time and history;
  • critical philosophy of race;
  • conceptions of transdisciplinarity;
  • aesthetics, art theory and cultural theory;
  • philosophical and political approaches to contemporary art;
  • philosophy and the visual arts;
  • recent and contemporary French philosophy;
  • recent Italian political philosophy;
  • globalisation, post-colonial theory, contemporary politics;
  • revolutionary political theory;
  • contemporary philosophies of sex and gender;
  • feminist philosophy; and
  • philosophical approaches to psychoanalysis.
Postgraduate study
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