Continental Philosophy: Subject , Identity and the Political - PHIL6290

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2021 to 2022.


The curriculum is intended to introduce students to some of the key arguments and debates in contemporary continental political philosophy through the focussed reading and discussion of the works of a number of central thinkers (Charles Taylor, Iris Marion Young, Foucualt, Derrida, Butler) in this field. It is also the aim of this module to consider the works and ideas of philosophers that are often overlooked on undergraduate political philosophy courses e.g. feminist thinkers and Queer theorists.
The curriculum should not be regarded as written in stone but responsive to new publications and developments in this field of research and to events in the wider world.


Contact hours

3 per week, a 2 hour lecture and 1 hour seminar for 10 teaching weeks


Also available as PL628 (Level 5)

Method of assessment

100% Coursework

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

'On Being Authentic' Charles Guignon
‘Beyond Identity Politics: Feminism, Power and Politics’ Moya LLoyd
‘Gender Trouble: Feminism and the Subversion of Identity’ Judith Butler
‘About the Beginnings of the Hermeneutics of the Self’ Michel Foucault
‘Citizenship and Political Identity’ Chantal Mouffe

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

All students, Levels 5 and 6

The aim of this course is to explore some of the key themes and ideas in contemporary continental political philosophy through the reading of extracts of central texts and journal articles.
By the end of this module students should be able to:
(1) Articulate and critically discuss some of the main ideas and debates in contemporary continental political philosophy. For example, the concept of identity politics and the challenges to it developed particularly by feminist theorising but also recognising the work of queer and race theorists. This course will also consider the concept of the decentred subject and the impact this, along with other aspects of post-structuralist thought has had on our understanding of autonomy, citizenship and multiculturalism.
(2) Articulate and critically discuss the main arguments for those ideas, such as: essentialism, authenticity, the self, self-determination.
(3) Show understanding of the main intellectual environment in which these ideas were developed and written. Show appreciation of the questions that are raised in these texts and why they are important. And, connect these points to (1) and (2).
(4) Show understanding of some of the criticisms of these arguments and positions and analyse them.

This module will contribute to the aims of the Philosophy Programme by enabling students to find out about and discuss some of the central figures of continental political philosophy by a focused reading of their work (A1), as well as a particular branch or branches of the subject (A2 and A3). The module will allow students to practise their analytical and critical skills whilst considering some of the most interesting material in philosophy. (See all of section B, and, particularly, C2, C5, C6, C7, C8 and C9.) It will also give them practise of working on their own and in groups, thus enabling them to take their analytical and critical skills to situations that they will encounter once they have left the University

In addition to the above, Level 6 students will be able to:
(1) Demonstrate systematic understanding and coherent and detailed knowledge of the key topics referred to in (1) above.
(2) Deploy accurately established techniques of philosophical analysis and enquiry.
(3) Show an appreciation of the uncertainty, ambiguity and limits of knowledge explored in the key topics.
(4) Manage their own learning, and to make use of scholarly reviews and primary sources (e.g. refereed research articles and/or original materials appropriate to the discipline).


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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