Philosophy of Work - PHIL6480

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


The module uses Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition as its core text and will make use of a wide variety of short philosophical texts from different historical periods to provide critical contrasts and elucidate important problems and questions about the nature of work. Key questions will include but not be limited to: Is there an inherent meaning to work? Is there a difference between labour and work? Where does work stand in relation to leisure or contemplation?

Generally, the reading assignments will alternate, with one week dedicated to a chapter from the core text, with the next week followed by philosophical essays by major figures that relate to the chapter content. Lectures will elucidate the significant questions and answers proposed by the texts. Seminars will be centred on group discussion.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 40


Also available at Level 6 (PL649)

Method of assessment

• Essay (1,000 words total) – 30%
• Intellectual Diary (2,500 words) – 60%
• Seminar Performance – 10%

Indicative reading

Indicative Reading List:

Arendt, Hannah, (1958) The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Aristotle, (1996) Politics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..
Locke, John, (1980) Two Treatises of Government, Indianapolis: Hackett.
Hegel, G.W.F., (1991) Elements of the Philosophy of Right. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Marcuse, Herbert, (1982) "Some Social Implications of Modern Technology." In The Essential Frankfurt School Reader. New York: Continuum, pp. 138-162.
Marx, Karl, (1998) The German Ideology. Amherst: Prometheus Press.
Russell, Bertrand, (2004) "In Praise of Idleness." London: Routledge.
Sen, Amartya, (2010) “Lives, Freedoms and Capabilities.” London: Penguin

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module Level 5 students will be able to:
Outline and show understanding through clear expression of a specific writing or writings by Arendt;
Connect specific writing or writings of Arendt to contemporary questions about the meaningfulness of work. Students should be able to comment on those themes and critically assess the contributions of Arendt;
Connect some of the ideas expressed by Arendt and the other authors to each other and critically compare them.


  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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