Students preparing for their graduation ceremony at Canterbury Cathedral

Comparative Literature and Philosophy - BA (Hons)

UCAS code VQ52

2018

Comparative Literature transcends national and cultural boundaries offering students a global view of literature. Taking Comparative Literature alongside Philosophy enables you to engage with the world’s major philosophies and consider their impact on literature.

2018

Overview

In Comparative Literature, you study texts ranging from Classical Antiquity to the present day in English translation, including works by such famous authors as Homer, Ovid, Dante, Goethe, Dostoevsky, Balzac, Flaubert, Proust and Kafka, as well as British classics such as Shakespeare, Dickens, Joyce and Woolf. 

You gain a broad international perspective on literary history, literary movements and literary genres, comparing themes and figures across different cultural backgrounds. You also compare the works of English and American authors to European ones.

As a student of Philosophy at Kent, you do not so much learn about philosophy as learn to do it yourself. This includes not only studying major philosophies and philosophers, but also contributing your own ideas to an ongoing dialogue. You develop the ability to connect the most abstract ideas to the most concrete things in our experience.

Independent rankings

In the National Student Survey 2016, Comparative Literature at Kent was ranked 3rd for overall satisfaction and quality of teaching.

Philosophy at Kent was ranked 14th in The Guardian University Guide 2017. In the National Student Survey 2016, 90% of our Philosophy students were satisfied with the quality of teaching on their course.

Teaching Excellence Framework

Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Kent delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.

Please see the University of Kent's Statement of Findings for more information.

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Course structure

The following modules are indicative of those offered on this programme. This listing is based on the current curriculum and may change year to year in response to new curriculum developments and innovation.  

On most programmes, you study a combination of compulsory and optional modules. You may also be able to take ‘wild’ modules from other programmes so you can customise your programme and explore other subjects that interest you.

Stage 1

Modules may include Credits

This literary-critical module deals with a wide range of selected international tales ranging from antiquity to the present day. The module addresses issues such as the development of oral folktales and fairytales into written forms, and discusses various short prose genres including Aesopian fables, myths, folktales and fairytales, as well as tales of the fantastic, 19th century art-tales and the modern short story.

The framework of discussion comprises a general survey of the issues that face the comparatist. In the course of the module students practice different methods of literary analysis, including close reading and comparative analysis by examining story-motifs and story-structures, and by considering symbolic meanings in the light of psychoanalytic concepts. Students also explore questions of transmission and transformation (e.g. how stories and motifs travel from one culture to another and alter in shape and emphasis) and questions of genre (for example the fantastic). A selection of critical texts on narrative devices and patterns, on psychoanalytical, structuralist and feminist approaches to the fairytale and on genre theories are studied in conjunction with the primary texts.

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Can I know that I am not dreaming? Am I the same person I was when I was ten years old? Do I have an immaterial mind or immortal soul? Am I a mere machine or do I have a free will? What are the fundamental properties of the world? Does God exist? This module is meant to be an introduction to these and other fundamental problems of philosophy. The module begins with an examination of some themes in Descartes' Meditations on First Philosophy, and moves on to discuss the arguments of other classical philosophers, such as Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and also of contemporary thinkers. Among the themes addressed are: the nature of knowledge, scepticism, personal identity, the mind-body problem, free will and determinism, primary and secondary qualities, causation, induction, God.

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Students studying on this module will be introduced to a number of big questions in ethics. The questions may include the following: What makes a life good? Is it happiness? Or is it something else? Another big question is: What makes actions right or wrong? Is it God demanding or forbidding them? Or are actions perhaps right to the extent that they serve to make lives better off, and wrong to the extent that they make lives worse off? Some philosophers have thought so. Others wonder: What if I steal money from someone so rich that my act in no way makes her life go any worse. Might it still be the case that I have acted wrongly—even if I haven't made anyone worse off? A third bit question is this: What's the status of morality? Is it, for example, the case that what’s right for me might be wrong for you? Does it make any sense at all to talk about moral claims being true or false, even relative to moral communities? Might moral judgements be nothing but expressions of sentiments? Throughout the course, students will be examining these and similar questions from the point of view of a variety of philosophers, including Plato, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Immanuel Kant, and David Hume.

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Since Plato's Dialogues, it has been part of philosophical enquiry to consider philosophical questions using logic and common sense alone. This module aims to train students to continue in that tradition. In the first part students will be introduced to basic themes in introductory logic and critical thinking. In the second part students will be presented with a problem each week in the form of a short argument, question, or philosophical puzzle and will be asked to think about it without consulting the literature. The problem, and students’ responses to it, will then form the basis of a structured discussion.

By the end of the module, students (a) will have acquired a basic logical vocabulary and techniques for the evaluation of arguments; (b) will have practised applying these techniques to selected philosophical topics; and (c) will have acquired the ability to look at new claims or problems and to apply their newly acquired argumentative and critical skills in order to generate philosophical discussions of them.It will be taught through a combination of lectures and seminars in the first half of the term, and seminars only in the second half of the term.

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What do philosophers do? How do they think? What do they typically think about? How do philosophers write? What sorts of writing are acceptable in philosophy? How should you write? How should philosophy best be read in order to be understood and assessed?'

In this module we will introduce you to some of the most interesting questions in philosophy, both from its history and from current debates. As we do this we will show you how to think, read and write as a philosopher.

Some of the questions we will discuss this year include: 'Why is Hume's fork so important in the history of philosophy?’, 'What is the difference between evaluative and descriptive judgements in aesthetics?’ and ‘What is the difference between ‘is’ and ‘ought’?’ We will also think about questions of more general philosophical import, such as: ‘What it is to presuppose something?’, ‘What is it to argue in a vicious circle?’, and ‘What does a philosophical definition look like?’

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Who and what is 'a child', and what is adolescence? This module examines the representation of childhood and adolescence in a cross-section of texts from modern literature within the context of World Literature studies. Students will pay close attention to the rhetoric and techniques of storytelling woven around these themes, as well as to relevant socio-political debates, while also examining how these specific texts function across cultures.

The module encourages students to find innovative approaches to the topic, and at the same time invites them to explore the relationship between literature and childhood and the joy of reading often associated with childhood and adolescence.

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This module will introduce students to a wide range of films produced in different European and Latin American countries between the late 1980s and the present day. The module will focus on prevailing trends and dominant themes in contemporary European and Hispanic cinemas. The aim is to make students aware of the place which cinema has played and continues to play in the cultural life of Europe and Latin America, its importance in establishing national and supra-national identity, and the ways in which international relations are expressed through film production. The module will begin with an overview of European and Latin American cinema, and then will be divided into geographically determined sections (United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Poland, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico and Cuba) before being brought together again in the final conclusive lecture. The course is also designed to provide students with basic film terminology, as well as with basic tools for cultural analysis.

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This module focuses on the development of the Romantic movement in Britain, France, Germany and Russia. It begins with the work of eighteenth century writers such as Goethe and Rousseau, and then explores their influence upon British, French and German writers of the early Romantic period (Blake, Chateaubriand, Kleist). The middle part of the module mainly concentrates upon British Romantic poetry, grouped around themes such as art, nature, politics and identity. The final part of the module examines how Russian writers, such as Lermontov and Pushkin, responded to the legacy of their Western counterparts. There will also be exploration during the course of the module of sub-genres such as the Gothic (Walpole, Dacre, M. Shelley), the historical novel (Dumas) and the confession (de Quincey). The work of painters, such as Fuseli, Goya and Turner, will be available as a resource via Moodle.

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This module offers students a wide-ranging grounding in classical literature as a basis for the further study of Western literature within a comparative framework. Major works of ancient Greek and Roman literature are studied in order to enable students to appreciate the literary engagement with the following in the classical world: myth (including the stories of the Trojan War, Oedipus, Jason and Medea, and the founding of Rome); the relationship between human beings and the gods, between the sexes, and between the human and the animal; and the journey motif. Themes explored included sexuality, violence, conceptions of justice, metamorphosis, and madness. The module introduces students to some of the major genres of Western literature (tragedy, comedy, the epic), and considers how these were theorized by Aristotle. It also encourages students to reflect on questions of cultural transmission, and on why the myths represented in classical literature should have proved to be such a rich source for the literature of the West.

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This module introduces students to some of the most influential theories of World Literature, which are studied alongside a selection of literary examples. The theories include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's reflections formulated in the first decades of the nineteenth century. Goethe coined the term 'world literature' [Weltliteratur] to describe the international circulation and reception of literary works in Europe. In the course of the module, we reflect on the relationship between national literatures and world literature, and on the ways in which the literary market facilitates and complicates transnational exchanges of ideas. In addition, students are given the opportunity to hone their close reading skills by studying a selection of ancient and modern world creation myths. These include texts from the Near East, Asia, Africa, the Americas and Europe. The module offers students the unique opportunity to analyse in detail different ways in which cultural backgrounds can shape literary productions, and how stories, motifs and themes travel across national boundaries. In the course of the module, we discuss key literary terms and concepts, including fictionality, literariness, translation, the canon, and the various modes of reception and circulation that shape our understanding of world literature.

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The twentieth-century imagination was marked by a spirit of doubt, especially of the Enlightenment faith in reason's capacity to advance mankind to happiness and freedom. In this module will be discussed some classic fictional explorations of freedom and social, political, religious and racial oppression which have had an international impact. These texts will be read as works of literature in their own right as well as contextualised with the ideas they question and propagate: universal happiness, human liberation, and morality without God, personal and political freedom, the self and its responsibility.

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The 'knowledge of good and evil' is unique to human beings. It informs the individual's conscience and determines the moral systems on which societies are based. The violation of moral codes is expected to induce the experience of guilt, while the lack of any sense of guilt is considered to be psychopathic. As the manifestation of an internal, and sometimes also external, struggle of varying intensity, guilt is an almost universal concern of literary texts; as is the quest for redemption, the alleviation of guilt and despair – through atonement, forgiveness or denial. In this module, we will analyse and discuss literary texts which explore the frequently fuzzy edges of the experiences of guilt and redemption as a human quandary and as perceived against changing conceptions of morality. Texts included in the reading list engage with questions of personal and collective guilt incurred with hubris, cruelty, the violation of animal rights, and genocide, etc.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Stage 2

Modules may include Credits

This module is designed to give a theoretically-grounded understanding of Comparative Literature and its methods. Students will have an overview of the brief history, fundamental debates, theories and different areas of focus of the discipline of Comparative Literature, as well as learning about the important schools of literary theory that are relevant to Comparative Literature.

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This module looks at a group of politically inspired novels and films, some of which were produced under the totalitarian regimes which held sway in Europe between 1917 and 1989, others deal with Latin American political unrest, the Middle East conflict and the Islamic revolution in Iran. Most explore ways of challenging and subverting authoritarian power structures and of articulating a critique in what Bertolt Brecht called 'dark times'. But we will also focus on less obvious negotiations of fiction with power, especially with respect to the various forms of power to which these texts are subject and in which they participate. The approach is comparative in two senses as the texts range historically and culturally as well as across genres and language barriers (Arab, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Russian and Spanish)

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This course introduces students to the fiction (novels, novellas, and short stories) of some of the most influential twentieth- and twenty-first- century Latin American writers. The module ranges from Borges to the extraordinary literary phenomenon or explosion of the 'Boom generation', the post-Boom novel, and the recently acclaimed Chilean writer Roberto Bolaño (all studied in English translation). The course offers students the unique opportunity to study a fascinating corpus of literature celebrated for its creative innovation, fictional games, puzzles, labyrinths, fabulous and supernatural events, multiple storytellers, and magical realist writing. The course also addresses questions of gender, class, and social, cultural, and technological changes, as well as representations of identity, subjectivity, time, space, and landscape.

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This module introduces students to a range of nineteenth-, twentieth-, and twenty-first-century literary and cinematic representations of vampires from different cultural backgrounds. It explores the reasons for the abiding allure of the figure of the vampire both in popular culture and in literary fiction. The module examines the ways in which vampires function as polyvalent symbols of specifically modern preoccupations, for the emergence and popularity of vampire tales is intricately bound up with the advent and wider cultural ramifications of modernity. What do vampires represent in each of the works discussed, and what hidden desires and anxieties do they allow authors and filmmakers to express? The vampire is an allegorically highly potent figure which is suspended between life and death and between animal and human existence. Vampires frequently serve as foils to discuss more contentious matters, in particular questions relating to sexuality, gender roles, class, immortality and the desire for everlasting youth, being an outsider, and addiction. Texts and films to be studied include John Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819), Théophile Gautier’s Clarimonde (1836), J. Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla (1872), Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897), F. W. Murnau’s and Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu adaptations (1922 and 1979), Angela Carter’s The Lady of the House of Love (1979), Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire (1994) and Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight (2005)

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The award of literary prizes is a highly potent tool of cultural policy that frequently determines the wider national and international impact of a literary work. As such it is of crucial relevance to the study of comparative literature in a number of ways: the award of literary prizes reflects the beginnings of the successful or, as the case may be, the (ultimately) abortive formation of literary canons; moreover, it affords insights into processes of cultural production and marketing and reveals in which ways political and economic agendas are tied up with these processes; it also offers a perspective on transnational and transcultural aspects of the production and reception of literature and indicates shifting notions of the social function of literature and the writer; literature is thus understood as a cultural product in ever changing contexts which is frequently subject to external forces of which literary prizes become indicators or even 'enforcers'. This module will investigate with the methods of literary and cultural studies the development of a number of major literary awards which have achieved global significance, among them the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize the Prix Goncourt (This list may be modified according to precedent to accommodate the topical relevance of individual award winners in the future.) Seminars will develop a historical perspective by scrutinising and analysing award winners of the past and their most recent counterparts in their different production and marketing contexts as well as in changing reception contexts: seminars will include the close reading of individual works as well as their critical reception, and the analysis of marketing strategies in various media (e.g. reports in culture magazines, reviews, displays in book shops, translations, etc.); final winners will be interpreted in the context of the respective long and short lists from which they emerged; historical developments will be taken into account, for instance by investigating 'forgotten' prize winners in comparison with those who, largely through the agency of academic intervention, 'made it' into the canon; the module thus also offers an insight into the history of the discipline of literary studies. (It links up logically with the C-level module CP321 Literature and Nationhood)

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This module investigates the representation of love, desire and the body in a selection of texts by women writers from different temporal, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. In particular we will look at the way representations of love, desire and the body reflect the respective socio-cultural contexts and the situation of women therein, how these writers deal with themes such as love, desire and eroticism, and what aesthetic strategies they use to tackle them. What models of feminine behaviour are celebrated or criticised? To what extent are relevant representational conventions adhered to or transgressed in these works?

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre for example provides a complex representation of a split and conflicted female identity, torn between demands of the body, passions, rages and desires, and the demands of the mind, the spirit and the intellect. This conflict is externalised in the form of the characters Bertha Mason and Helen Burns, alter egos which Jane has to overcome and reconcile. Jane Eyre will offer a useful touchstone for other representations of female figures caught between social conventions and desires, and their attempts to come to terms with them.

Students will be asked to engage with the siginificance of images and representations of women proliferated through literature. These representations provide or question role models, perpetuate or problematise stereotypical versions of feminine goals and aspirations. Furthermore, emphasis will be placed on close readings of the various works, and students will be asked to pay close attention to cultural differences and variations, and to examine how the conceptions and representations of love and desire changed in the course of time.

The selected fictions allow a comparative examination of a wide range of different perceptions by women writers of the body, of gender, identity, love, desire and sexuality and the way these reflect the respective wider ideological framework. Close readings of these texts are complemented by selected references to a body of feminist literary theory.

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The module examines the development of nineteenth-century European fiction against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution and its social and cultural effects. It argues that the emergence of realism, naturalism and decadence as literary movements constituted not only responses to social change but were also artistic revolutions in themselves. A representative selection of writers, including Balzac, Eliot, Zola and Huysmans, will be studied. The module will also make reference to poetry (Baudelaire, Swinburne) where necessary and to the visual arts of the period. Themes will include: modes of literary production, class and economic conditions, gender, sexuality and desire, science and technology, religion and aesthetics, and the social positions of men and women.

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This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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We typically value justified belief more than simple belief, for very good reasons: a justified belief is more likely to be true than a randomly selected one. Indeed, we value knowledge even more than justified belief, since, arguably, a belief that qualifies as knowledge is true. But when is a belief justified? And what is knowledge? Is any of our beliefs justified? Do we know anything at all? Do we know that it's 8 o’ clock if at 8 o’ clock we see a broken watch indicating 8 o’ clock? Do we know that our cat is sleeping on the sofa, if we don’t know that we’re not brains in a vat? This module investigates these and other epistemological questions, mostly by looking at some deeply puzzling sceptical arguments, some of which areas old as Philosophy is, and all of which have sprung very lively debates in the recent philosophical literature.

This module is designed to introduce students to some key philosophical notions – such as belief, justification and knowledge – and to some of the most exciting and interesting literature on the subject. The module begins with a brief overview of the literature on the analysis of knowledge – this will introduce students to the main philosophical approaches to justification and knowledge: internalism and externalism. The module will then move on to consider two influential forms of Skepticism: Pyrronian skepticism and Cartesian skepticism. Students will be introduced to the main views on the structure of justification – foundationalism, coherentism and entitlement approaches – as well as to the main semantic accounts of 'know’ – contextualism, dogmatism and relevant alternatives/tracking theories. Some epistemic principles, such as the so-called KK principle, will be introduced via the presentation of epistemic paradoxes, such as the Surprise Examination Paradox.

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We often make claims about the world, whether in Ethics, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, History or Science. These claims might be thought to involve a correspondence between how we think about the world and how the world 'really is'. This course aims to examine questions of realism and anti-realism: does the world outrun our ability to talk about it? Do some ways of talking about the world capture how the world really is? Can we even make sense of there being a world independent of how we think about it?

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What makes it the case that certain actions, such as stealing and sharing, have ethical value? Are ethical values such as goodness and badness, compassion and cruelty, mind-independent ethical properties, properties that exist no matter what anyone thinks, desires, aims at and the like? Or are there no such ethical properties at all and when we call something good we are just expressing our emotions and feelings about a nonethical world? Are there any other positions available?

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the most exciting and interesting philosophical literature in recent years, which brings together ethics and metaphysics with a little epistemology and philosophy of language. The first half of this course will examine (what are often called) "metaethical" questions such as those above. We will then move on to discuss debates concerning moral psychology and motivation. When one says 'charity-giving is good' is it a matter of necessity that one will be motivated to some extent to give to charity? Or is it possible for one to make such a judgement and have no motivation at all (and for such a judgement to count as a legitimate moral judgement)? At the end we will see how these questions concerning psychology are integral to the earlier debates of metaphysics. Throughout, we will be examining these questions and issues by looking at work by authors from the start of the twentieth century (e.g. G. E. Moore) and by more recent writers (e.g. Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, J. L. Mackie, John McDowell and Michael Smith).

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This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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Please note: all Module Handbook information is subject to change pending faculty approval.

Wittgenstein is widely thought to have been the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. This module will concentrate in depth on some of Wittgenstein’s work by focusing on selected passages of his writings. The actual passages or texts focused on from year to year may vary.

Wittgenstein

Julia Tanney’s interest in Wittgenstein began as an undergraduate when she was introduced to the ideas of Wittgenstein through the teachings of Philippa Foot, David Pears, and Rogers Albritton, and, as a graduate student, of Crispin Wright. She has taught the Philosophical Investigations for over 20 years in England and in France. She has produced several articles, including “Real Rules”, “Reason-Explanation and the Contents of the Mind”, “On the Conceptual, Psychological, and Moral Status of Zombies, Swamp-Beings, and other ‘Behaviorally Indistinguishable’ Creatures”, and “Self-Knowledge, Normativity, and Construction”, reprinted in Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012) which bring to bear Wittgenstein’s later philosophy on today’s theorizing in the philosophy of mind and action. This module uses the virtual world of Second Life to bring Wittgenstein’s primitive language games to life and to help students reflect on questions such as what it is to understand, think, intend, act for reasons, and to mean what we say.

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This module studies some central questions in philosophy of religion, drawing on topics in metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. It begins by studying and critically assessing three of the 'classical' arguments for the existence of God—the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the argument from design —which consider respectively whether reason, science or experience can show us that God exists. It goes on to consider the relationship between religion and morality, examining Kant’s moral argument, which appears to support a case for the existence of God, and Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma, which appears to tell against it. Finally, it considers some central topics in religious epistemology, language and philosophy of mind, including: miracles, the nature of religious experience, religious language and personal identity. One underlying question the module considers is whether the above arguments and topics could be used to support or tell against an argument for the overall rationality of religious belief.

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Language is a wonderful thing. Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally don't have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? How is it that learning a second language can be so frustrating and time consuming, whereas we learn our first language with no trouble at all? The questions keep coming. In this module we shall try to find some answers.

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The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of science. Texts to be studied will be drawn from a list which includes major works by philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Salmon, etc. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Themes to be studied will include: the nature of scientific theory change, the status of scientific claims, the methodology of scientific reasoning, the prospects for automating scientific reasoning.

The course will cover a range of topics such as:

Inductivism versus falsificationism

Research Programmes

Incommensurability

Realism

Instrumentalism

Probabilistic Reasoning

Causal Reasoning

Mathematical Reasoning

Confirmation

Explanation

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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What is art? What is an artwork? Do all types and examples of (what are traditionally classed as) artworks have identifying features in common? If so, what are they? Or, are there such interesting differences between works of literature, pieces of sculpture and the like, that searching for a definition of art is a futile task and this type of question misguided? Do avant-garde works count as art? Can anything count as art, such as food, if it’s presented in the right way or made with the right sort of intention? What does all of this tell us about the nature of definition generally?

These are some of the questions that we will explore at the start of this course. After that we will consider other issues and questions. What is the relation of art to beauty and other aesthetic qualities? What is it for a performance to be ‘authentic’ and is this sort of performance to be privileged in any way? Why is rock music such a part of our lives? Is there anything aesthetically wrong with a forgery? What is the nature of aesthetic experience and of our emotional responses to art? Why do we care so much about the fate of fictional characters? Is there any difference between pornography and erotica? Are artists subject to a different moral code? And what on earth is the point of public art? What is public art?

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How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

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Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a benevolent charity, or an unelected, unaccountable group wielding enormous political power?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular case studies, such as the recent debate over the showing of an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords, and the West's failure to intervene in Rwanda.

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Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? What distinguishes different sorts of political violence? Ought the state to have a monopoly on political violence? Are there some methods that should never be used to further political goals? In this course, we will look at the various forms of political violence, and consider how political and legal theorists have tried to regulate violent interaction between states and within states. We will examine the conceptual difficulties that arise when postulating international laws, and consider the role of the United Nations as international mediator and law enforcer. We will also look at the rights of self-determination amongst sub-national groups, and at the obligations of the international community to intervene to prevent humanitarian abuses.

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The module will cover some of the major topics of the theory of reasoning, with a focus on presenting students with new and exciting research. The syllabus will vary from year to year. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and may involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

As an indication of the kind of topics covered, the following are three potential syllabi, one of which might operate in any particular year:

1. Probability and probabilistic reasoning. This syllabus will present the major interpretations of probability and their connection with the various kinds of probabilistic reasoning. Topics covered might include: the classical interpretation; the logical interpretation; the subjective interpretation; the frequency interpretation; the propensity interpretation; the objective Bayesian interpretation. The key text will be D.A.Gillies (2000): Philosophical theories of probability, Routledge.

2. Causality and causal reasoning. This syllabus will present the major theories of causality, including difference-making theories (probabilistic theories, counterfactual theories, agency theories), mechanistic theories (process theories, complex systems theories) and pluralist theories. It will go on to consider methods of causal reasoning in the sciences and the implications of such methods for the metaphysics of causality. In the absence of a comprehensive text, this syllabus will appeal to papers, especially those in the Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP 2009), and Causality in the Sciences (OUP 2011).

3. Invalid arguments. This syllabus will look in detail at methods of assessing the cogency of deductively invalid arguments. In particular it will present the methods of inductive logic for assessing the plausibility of arguments. It will provide an introduction to probabilistic logics and their semantics, as well as to methods of inference in probabilistic logics, with a focus on elementary methods that can be readily acquired by students with little prior training in logic and no prior knowledge of probability theory. In the absence of a text at a suitable level, this syllabus will be accompanied by a set of detailed lecture notes.

Convenor: Jon Williamson

Jon Williamson works on various topics connected with reasoning, inference and scientific method, including causal reasoning in the sciences, inductive reasoning, and the nature of probability. The aim of this module is to introduce students to cutting-edge research on topics such as these. Jon is editor of the gazette The Reasoner, co-director of the Centre for Reasoning, and author of books on reasoning such as Bayesian nets and causality (OUP 2005), In defence of objective Bayesianism (OUP 2010) and Probabilistic logics and probabilistic networks (Springer 2011).

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30

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.

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30

This module concerns ideas of two of the most interesting of Western philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both thinkers developed ideas that transformed much of the intellectual landscape of twentieth century, and both wrote books that prove fruitful for successive generations. They wrote on many themes: ethics, religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Both take their starting point from those thinkers that came before, notably Kant and Hegel. However, they are interesting to compare because they have such different views on philosophical thought and various themes. In particular, some of Nietzsche’s thought is framed explicitly in opposition to Schopenhauer’s, with the former casting the latter as the great pessimist. An appreciation of their ideas is an important part of the education of many philosophy students. However, both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche can be hard writers to read and understand. This module is designed both to introduce some of their ideas and develop a student’s appreciation of them such that he or she can discuss them with confidence and critical insight.

The module will not cover all of the writings of either or both thinkers. Students will typically read selections from Schopenhauer’s masterwork The World as Will and Representation and then selections from a variety of Nietzsche’s works, or one work in full. These will be read on their own, with ideas from both thinkers compared. Modern writers and commentators will be read in addition to help reveal the importance of Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s ideas.

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30

This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as “normative ethics”. We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as ‘Do not lie’) which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this ‘ethical mess’ that we can discern. Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

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30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a ‘single-issue’, militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a ‘single-issue’ ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module begins by drawing attention to the diversity of feminist thought, highlighting three theoretical strands: liberal feminism, radical feminism and Marxist feminism. We go on to apply these strands of feminist thought to the following topics: First, we look at some topics in legal and political philosophy, including justice and the family; discrimination law and freedom of speech. Second, we look at some topics in applied ethics, including reproductive ethics and sexual ethics. Third, we look at some feminist perspectives in epistemology and metaphysics. We also discuss the underlying question of whether feminism discriminates against men, and whether the notion of ‘gender-inclusive’ feminism is a plausible one.

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30

The present module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. That said, the relevant variations will be constrained by considerations ensuring that one cohort will not be disadvantaged compared to the next, and are likely to consistently include some sub-set of the following:

• Authoritarianism

• Behavioural economics

• Collective action

• Federal and non-federal unions

• Game theory

• Liberalism, illiberalism, and paternalism

• Markets and trade

• Money and finance

• Philosophy of Power

• Property

• Public choice

• Rational choice

• States and corporations

• Terrorism

• Theocracy

• Voting

• Work and capital

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

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30

William James (1842-1910) has arguably had a profound impact in the shaping of three contemporary disciplines: philosophy, psychology and the study of religion. This course aims to examine the life and work of William James in depth. It will examine the life of William James and the James family and show how this relates to his work. The course will examine his key texts: Principles of Psychology (1890), The Will to Believe (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and his studies of pragmatism, including Pragmatism (1907), The Pluralistic Universe (1909) and The Meaning of Truth (1909). It will also explore his long term and frustrated attempt to set up a scientific study of psychical phenomena.

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30

This course brings together a range of theories of love from the history of philosophy and from various traditions, including analytical philosophy, feminism, pragmatism and continental thought. It will explore questions of love, beauty and friendship in Plato, religious models in Aquinas, ars erotica in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophies of love, Romantic traditions of love, the logic of love in Peirce and James, feminist politics of love and maternity, and cognitive models of love. The course will also examine a range of analytical questions of love, including debates about the different types of love (eros, agape and philia), the problems of talking about love in philosophical language, distinctions between self-love and relational love, the relation of love to literature and poetry, love as embodied instinct and mental idea, the relation between love and sex, and connections between love, compassion and caring. The aim of the course is to combine a philosophical history of love with critical analytical skills to think about love as a dynamic feature of human relationships.

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30

This module has an ambitious but hopefully not ridiculous goal: to teach you something about how to live well. It will do so by introducing you to some of the most prominent philosophical traditions that have tried to offer practical advice on how to live, such as that of the Stoics and the Epicureans, but also the religiously inspired traditions of Buddhists, Confucians and Jesuit philosophers.* Of course, you can't learn to live well simply by reading a few books—not even really good ones. That’s why, as part of the module, you’ll also spend three days living in accordance with one of the traditions covered, and then reporting back your experience to the rest of the class, either through a traditional presentation, or by making a short video about your experience. You might not come out a Stoic sage at the other end of this module (although who knows?), but you’ll have learned quite a few things about what some very interesting people thought about how to live well, some of which you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily life.

* Topics covered will likely vary from year to year. The variations will be guided by the expertise of whichever person happens to be convening the module any given year, and by student feedback on previous years.

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30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30
You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Year abroad

Going abroad as part of your degree is an amazing experience and a chance to develop personally, academically and professionally. You experience a different culture, gain a new academic perspective, establish international contacts and enhance your employability.

You can apply to add a year abroad to your degree programme from your arrival at Kent until the autumn term of your second year. The year abroad takes place between Stages 2 and 3 at one of our partner universities. Places and destination are subject to availability, language and degree programme. For a full list, please see Go Abroad.

You are expected to adhere to any academic progression requirements in Stages 1 and 2 to proceed to the year abroad. The year abroad is assessed on a pass/fail basis and does not count towards your final degree classification.

Stage 3

Modules may include Credits

The award of literary prizes is a highly potent tool of cultural policy that frequently determines the wider national and international impact of a literary work. As such it is of crucial relevance to the study of comparative literature in a number of ways: the award of literary prizes reflects the beginnings of the successful or, as the case may be, the (ultimately) abortive formation of literary canons; moreover, it affords insights into processes of cultural production and marketing and reveals in which ways political and economic agendas are tied up with these processes; it also offers a perspective on transnational and transcultural aspects of the production and reception of literature and indicates shifting notions of the social function of literature and the writer; literature is thus understood as a cultural product in ever changing contexts which is frequently subject to external forces of which literary prizes become indicators or even 'enforcers'. This module will investigate with the methods of literary and cultural studies the development of a number of major literary awards which have achieved global significance, among them the Nobel Prize for Literature and the Man Booker Prize the Prix Goncourt (This list may be modified according to precedent to accommodate the topical relevance of individual award winners in the future.) Seminars will develop a historical perspective by scrutinising and analysing award winners of the past and their most recent counterparts in their different production and marketing contexts as well as in changing reception contexts: seminars will include the close reading of individual works as well as their critical reception, and the analysis of marketing strategies in various media (e.g. reports in culture magazines, reviews, displays in book shops, translations, etc.); final winners will be interpreted in the context of the respective long and short lists from which they emerged; historical developments will be taken into account, for instance by investigating 'forgotten' prize winners in comparison with those who, largely through the agency of academic intervention, 'made it' into the canon; the module thus also offers an insight into the history of the discipline of literary studies. (It links up logically with the C-level module CP321 Literature and Nationhood)

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15

This is a module about the intersection of colonial power relations, anti-colonialism, postcolonialism, feminism, and identity politics in literature from 1940 to 2010 which interrogates the influence of imperialism on a sense of self. It considers the writing of a number of women and men from Algeria, Morocco, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, India and Sri Lanka in a range of genres from the Francophone and Anglophone traditions (short story, essay, novel, autobiography). In light of the complex relationship between coloniser and colonised, we consider the political activism of many of these writers, as well as the ways in which their politics are articulated in their writing, whether fiction or non-fiction. We also examine to what extent this literature is representative of other postcolonial concerns such as nationhood and national consciousness, hybridity and assimilation, and exile and alienation within the larger context of cultural theory. Particularly significant is our interrogation of the violence inscribed in both the colonial system and the colonised's fight for independence as seen from the psychoanalytical perspectives of Frantz Fanon in Black Skin, White Masks (1952), A Dying Colonialism (1959), The Wretched of the Earth (1961). Studying the primary and secondary texts in English, we bring awareness to the reading scene of the translation process as an important development in the transnational study of comparative literature in our global world. In so Doing, we acknowledge the significance of indigenous languages and dialects as signifers of subjecthood in conflict with the coloniser's language. By exploring a variety of anti-colonial resistance and liberation discourses in relation to the development of current postcolonial thinking, the module also offers an insight into the history of the discipline of Colonial and Postcolonial studies.

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15

Since its inception in Ancient Greece and its first theorization by Aristotle in the Poetics, tragedy has been considered the highest literary genre, treating some of the most profound philosophical questions such as the limits of personal and social freedom, the relationship of the individual to society, and the nature of justice. This module will examine how the conventions of the genre were adapted to meet the challenges of representing new social conditions and understandings of reality from the late nineteenth century onwards. It will begin by exploring the innovations of naturalistic drama (Ibsen, Strindberg) before moving onto the 'high' Modernism of writers such as Beckett and Brecht, before concluding with the work of contemporary dramatists such as Churchill and Mamet. The module will also examine the work of modern and contemporary theorists of tragedy including Adorno, Nietzsche, Steiner, Szondi and Williams.

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15

Don Juan and Casanova are archetypes of the male seducer who, in the Western European tradition, stand for different interpretations of excessive passion. Don Juan hunts for virgins, nuns, and other women who are difficult to get (in that they belong to other men). Meticulously, he keeps record of his conquests. Casanova, in turn, was attracted to the easy accessibility of moments of intense pleasure, which, although within potential reach to all, only few knew how to enjoy. While Casanova slept with everyone but took interest in nobody, Don Juan's quest is also motivated by the hidden desire to find a woman that would be his equal. In this module we shall chart the metamorphoses of these two almost mythical figures since their emergence in seventeenth-century Spain and eighteenth-century Italy to explore the relationship between literature, music, film, and the erotic within different cultural and historical contexts. In our close analyses of plays, novellas, poems, philosophical texts, opera, and film, we will focus on notions of modern individualism in relation to narcissism and solitude. In addition, we shall also engage with theoretical concepts related to speech act theory (J.L. Austin’s How to do Things with Words), Judith Butler’s thoughts on gender as performance, Sigmund Freud’s observations on sexuality, and Jacques Lacan’s description of ego-constitution.

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15

How have twentieth-century writers across the world negotiated and appropriated Shakespeare’s omnipresent cultural influence? How have they revised, reinvented, and reimagined his legacy in Europe, Asia, and the Americas (North, Central, and South)? This module focuses on a selection of Shakespeare’s most influential plays (Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, and The Tempest) in order to examine how their thematic, historical, and cultural concerns have been transplanted to a wide range of global locations including the Caribbean, Germany, Japan, a farm in the USA, and the Argentine Pampas. The module also engages with theoretical notions related to the act of appropriating Shakespeare, including the theory of intertextuality, the Benjaminian concept of the ‘afterlife’ of a text, and Genette’s study of the ‘palimpsest’ as a text derived from a pre-existent text. In addition, the module will reflect on issues of race, gender, and cultural identity embedded in the adaptations of the bard in the various world contexts in which his work has been complexly modernized and redeployed.

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15

This module will provide the opportunity for third year undergraduates to gain valuable transferable skills by giving them some first-hand teaching experience in a primary or secondary school classroom. Each student will spend half a day each week for one term in a local school under the supervision of a specific teacher, who will act as a mentor, and decide the tasks and responsibilities of the student. The weekly university sessions and school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance.

They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers' tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

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30

This module explores the notions of exile, travel, migration, and displacement by focusing on an international corpus of nineteenth- and twentieth-century texts that concern the transnational movement of European and non-European writers across the globe. Migratory trajectories will be studied in relation to the specific historical and cultural contexts out of which the texts originated and that concern complex issues of race, identity, gender, and imperial history. Writers examined include Gustave Flaubert, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, D.H. Lawrence, Joseph Conrad, Marguerite Duras, Henri Michaux, Roberto Bolaño, Jack Kerouac, Gao Xingjian, and Ernesto 'Che' Guevara. The course aims to provide students with an international and comparative methodology for studying the phenomenon of travel, migration, and exile. Students will also be equipped with a critical framework that will allow them to interrogate and problematise Eurocentric and exoticizing perspectives of Asian, African, and Latin American countries, particularly what the critics Mary Louise Pratt and Edward Said have theorised as ‘imperial eyes’ and ‘Orientalism’ respectively.

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30

The module will begin with the study of some of the major avant-garde movements (including Expressionism, Futurism, Imagism, Vorticism, Dada, and Surrealism) that sprang up in the first two decades of the twentieth century. Students will read a range of short manifestos and literary works by Tristan Tzara, Filippo Marinetti, T. E. Hulme, Wyndham Lewis, T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, André Breton, and others. Once both the diversity and the international nature of modernism have been considered, students will go on to look in depth at a series of major modernist writers from different national backgrounds, and to identify what these writers share, what distinguishes them from one another, and, in some cases, what sets them in violent opposition. The aim here will be to give students a sense of the plurality of modernisms and the conflicts that were internal to the movement. Although the focus will be on some of the most significant individual works of modernist literature (for instance, Proust’s Swann’s Way, Kafka’s The Trial, Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Eliot’s The Waste Land), shorter texts, both literary and critical/theoretical, will also constitute the recommended reading in preparation for seminars. Seminal essays by major commentators on the modernist movement such as Walter Benjamin, Georg Lukács, and Theodor Adorno will constitute part of the primary reading. The aim throughout will be to strike a balance between close reading and the consideration of the more general theoretical and political issues at stake in the modernist ‘revolution of the word’. Students will also be encouraged to explore the ways in which modernism finds expression in the visual arts, particularly in Expressionism, Cubism, and Abstraction.

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30

The module will begin by studying some of the major early postmodern writers such as Charles Olson and Alain Robbe-Grillet. This will be followed by a comparative analysis of second-generation postmodern literature in both Europe and the United States, including writers such as Italo Calvino and Thomas Pynchon. The module will also reference postmodern texts in other media such as film (the ‘Free Cinema’ movement) and the visual arts (most notably, Pop Art). Almost from its inception, postmodernism has been subject to theorization and to a highly charged debate over its status as either a radical and liberating movement or as a mere symptom of ‘late capitalism’ and a media-saturated culture in which ‘the medium is the message’. Students will study some of the key theoretical documents on the postmodern, including extracts from the work of Jean Baudrillard, Fredric Jameson and Jean-François Lyotard.

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15

In the immediate aftermath of the cataclysmic events of the Shoah, the philosopher and sociologist Theodor W. Adorno interrogated the meaning of 'culture' after the failure of culture. In contemporary discourse, the Shoah has long since been turned into a marketable icon of suffering. Indeed, the encroachment on the victims' memory of what has contentiously been called the 'Holocaust industry’ or, with a gruesome pun, ‘Shoah business’, is frequently perceived as threatening to pervert remembrance of this singular event in history. Ever since Adorno’s often quoted and frequently misunderstood ‘dictum’ that it is barbaric to write poetry ‘after Auschwitz’ (1949), a discussion about the value and the significance of the representation of the Shoah in cultural production has been engaged in. Many of the concerns focused on in this debate remain controversial, among them the questions of the memory of the Shoah and its medial representations, and of the potentially therapeutic value of confronting the emotional trauma of genocide in cultural production.

In this module, students will enter into these debates by enquiring into the ability of narrative, in literature, film and other forms of memorialisation, to represent the ‘unrepresentable’, by exploring the use of these narratives as ‘history’, and by investigating the so-called ‘Americanisation’ of the Shoah. In addition, they will enquire into the historical and cultural contexts of the Shoah.

In the first term particular emphasis will therefore be placed on the cultural and historical context of the ‘Jewish question’, including nationalism, race theory and anti-Semitism. Source material to be discussed in seminars will include excerpts from theoretical, (pseudo-)scientific writings, literary and legal texts and films which document the paradigm change from religious anti-Judaism to a primarily racially motivated anti-Semitism. This will be followed by discussions of the literature of testimony by survivors of the Shoah, of poetic responses to the Shoah and of ‘fabricated’ memory. The first term will be concluded by a discussion of early media coverage of the liberation of the concentration camp of Buchenwald and by Allied efforts of representing the Shoah as a means of effecting their policy of re-education in post-war Germany.

The second term will be focused on more recent forms of representation and memorialisation of the Shoah, concentrating especially on formal and medial variety and innovation as well as shifts of perspective.

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30

This module seeks to explore how novels and plays are adapted and interpreted for the screen. We shall be looking at how certain texts lend themselves to multiple reshaping such as Laclos’ 'Dangerous Liasions' and Henry James’ 'The Turn of the Screw', both of which have been adapted for the screen more than once. We shall also analyse lesser known works that have gone on to become feature films, such as Arthur Schnitzler’s short work ‘Dream Story’, filmed as 'Eyes Wide Shut'. Adaptations directed by widely recognised filmmakers such as De Sica, Max Ophuls, Kubrick and Pier Paolo Pasolini will also be examined with a view to eliciting and understanding their particular approach to, and filmic vision of, written texts.

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30

This module looks at a group of politically inspired literary texts, comics and films, some of which were produced under the totalitarian regimes which held sway in Europe between 1917 and 1989. Others deal with the Middle East conflict, and the Islamic revolution in Iran and Mao's Cultural Revolution in China, or power relations in other contexts. Most explore ways of challenging and subverting authoritarian power structures and of articulating a critique in what Bertolt Brecht called 'dark times'. But we also focus on less obvious negotiations of fiction and power, especially with respect to the various forms of power to which these texts are subject, in which they participate, and on which they reflect metafictionally. The approach is comparative in various ways as the texts range historically and culturally, as well as across genres and language barriers (Arab, Czech, English, French, German, Italian, Greek, Polish, Russian and Chinese)

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30

This module will introduce students to philosophical theories of causality and philosophical theories of probability. The module will provide a broad background to the range of available interpretations of causality and probability. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. Students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies on causality and probability. The module will enable students to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

This module is aimed at those students who would like to follow a career as Primary or Secondary School teachers, but is also suitable to those who would like to combine an academic course with work experience. Placements in a school environment will enhance the students' employment opportunities as they will acquire a range of skills. It will also provide the students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of Religious Education and Philosophy in the primary or secondary school context. The university sessions and weekly school work will complement each other. Therefore, attendance to university sessions is crucial as it will also give the students the opportunity to discuss aspects related to their weekly placement and receive guidance. The student will spend one half-day per week for ten weeks in a school where each student will have a designated teacher-mentor who will guide their work in school. They will observe sessions taught by their designated teacher and possibly other teachers. Initially, for these sessions the students will concentrate on specific aspects of the teachers’ tasks, and their approach to teaching a whole class. As they progress, their role will be as teaching assistants, by helping individual pupils who are having difficulties or by working with small groups. They may teach brief or whole sessions with the whole class or with a small group of students where they explain a topic related to the school syllabus. They may also talk about aspects of University life. They must keep a weekly journal reflecting on their activities at their designated school.

Read more
30

This module has an ambitious but hopefully not ridiculous goal: to teach you something about how to live well. It will do so by introducing you to some of the most prominent philosophical traditions that have tried to offer practical advice on how to live, such as that of the Stoics and the Epicureans, but also the religiously inspired traditions of Buddhists, Confucians and Jesuit philosophers.* Of course, you can't learn to live well simply by reading a few books—not even really good ones. That’s why, as part of the module, you’ll also spend three days living in accordance with one of the traditions covered, and then reporting back your experience to the rest of the class, either through a traditional presentation, or by making a short video about your experience. You might not come out a Stoic sage at the other end of this module (although who knows?), but you’ll have learned quite a few things about what some very interesting people thought about how to live well, some of which you’ll be able to incorporate into your daily life.

* Topics covered will likely vary from year to year. The variations will be guided by the expertise of whichever person happens to be convening the module any given year, and by student feedback on previous years.

Read more
30

This course brings together a range of theories of love from the history of philosophy and from various traditions, including analytical philosophy, feminism, pragmatism and continental thought. It will explore questions of love, beauty and friendship in Plato, religious models in Aquinas, ars erotica in ancient Indian and Chinese philosophies of love, Romantic traditions of love, the logic of love in Peirce and James, feminist politics of love and maternity, and cognitive models of love. The course will also examine a range of analytical questions of love, including debates about the different types of love (eros, agape and philia), the problems of talking about love in philosophical language, distinctions between self-love and relational love, the relation of love to literature and poetry, love as embodied instinct and mental idea, the relation between love and sex, and connections between love, compassion and caring. The aim of the course is to combine a philosophical history of love with critical analytical skills to think about love as a dynamic feature of human relationships.

Read more
30

William James (1842-1910) has arguably had a profound impact in the shaping of three contemporary disciplines: philosophy, psychology and the study of religion. This course aims to examine the life and work of William James in depth. It will examine the life of William James and the James family and show how this relates to his work. The course will examine his key texts: Principles of Psychology (1890), The Will to Believe (1897), The Varieties of Religious Experience (1902) and his studies of pragmatism, including Pragmatism (1907), The Pluralistic Universe (1909) and The Meaning of Truth (1909). It will also explore his long term and frustrated attempt to set up a scientific study of psychical phenomena.

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30

The present module will introduce students to classical as well as contemporary discussions in the intersection between politics, philosophy, and economics. Topics to be covered will vary from year to year, in light of the expertise of the person convening it and student feedback from previous years. That said, the relevant variations will be constrained by considerations ensuring that one cohort will not be disadvantaged compared to the next, and are likely to consistently include some sub-set of the following:

• Authoritarianism

• Behavioural economics

• Collective action

• Federal and non-federal unions

• Game theory

• Liberalism, illiberalism, and paternalism

• Markets and trade

• Money and finance

• Philosophy of Power

• Property

• Public choice

• Rational choice

• States and corporations

• Terrorism

• Theocracy

• Voting

• Work and capital

Through these and related topics, students will gain a good understanding of the complementary and in some cases conflicting perspectives and methodologies contained in politics, philosophy, and economics, and enable them to evaluate contemporary issues in a manner that's informed by a comprehensive set of relevant traditions.

Read more
30

Many people today are reluctant to identify themselves as 'feminist': either because they see feminism as a useful political movement that has essentially served its purposes; or because they view feminism as a 'single-issue', militant ideology that they cannot identify with. This module is intended to give students an opportunity to reflect philosophically on what claims like this could mean: if we live in a post-feminist era, why do women earn, on average, two thirds of what their male counterparts earn? If we live in post-feminist era, why are women still under-represented in many fields (including politics, science and academic philosophy?). If feminism is a ‘single-issue’ ideology, why is it that feminists have proposed such a variety of solutions to the above problems, and from such a wide range of political standpoints?

The module begins by drawing attention to the diversity of feminist thought, highlighting three theoretical strands: liberal feminism, radical feminism and Marxist feminism. We go on to apply these strands of feminist thought to the following topics: First, we look at some topics in legal and political philosophy, including justice and the family; discrimination law and freedom of speech. Second, we look at some topics in applied ethics, including reproductive ethics and sexual ethics. Third, we look at some feminist perspectives in epistemology and metaphysics. We also discuss the underlying question of whether feminism discriminates against men, and whether the notion of ‘gender-inclusive’ feminism is a plausible one.

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This course is designed to introduce students to a number of approaches in what is often referred to as “normative ethics”. We face and hear about moral problems every day. These problems range from life and death matters concerning abortion, euthanasia and the like to other types of case such as whether to tell a lie to prevent hurting someone’s feelings. At some point we might wonder whether there is a set of rules or principles (such as ‘Do not lie’) which will help us through these tricky problems; we might wonder whether there is something more simple underlying all of this ‘ethical mess’ that we can discern. Normative ethics contains a number of theories that attempt to give us such principles and to sort out the mess. In particular, different normative ethical theories are attempts to articulate reasons why a certain course of action is ethically best; they are attempts to say what types of feature we should concentrate on when thinking about ethical problems and why it is that such features are features which have ‘intrinsic moral significance’. Of course, ethical theories do not exist in a vacuum. As we shall see, our everyday intuitions about what is morally best are both the origin of normative ethical theories and the origin of thoughts raised against them. In all of this, the course will be examining these theories by starting with their historical roots, particularly focussing on the work of J. S. Mill, Immanuel Kant and Aristotle.

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This module concerns ideas of two of the most interesting of Western philosophers: Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche. Both thinkers developed ideas that transformed much of the intellectual landscape of twentieth century, and both wrote books that prove fruitful for successive generations. They wrote on many themes: ethics, religion, aesthetics, metaphysics, and epistemology. Both take their starting point from those thinkers that came before, notably Kant and Hegel. However, they are interesting to compare because they have such different views on philosophical thought and various themes. In particular, some of Nietzsche’s thought is framed explicitly in opposition to Schopenhauer’s, with the former casting the latter as the great pessimist. An appreciation of their ideas is an important part of the education of many philosophy students. However, both Schopenhauer and Nietzsche can be hard writers to read and understand. This module is designed both to introduce some of their ideas and develop a student’s appreciation of them such that he or she can discuss them with confidence and critical insight.

The module will not cover all of the writings of either or both thinkers. Students will typically read selections from Schopenhauer’s masterwork The World as Will and Representation and then selections from a variety of Nietzsche’s works, or one work in full. These will be read on their own, with ideas from both thinkers compared. Modern writers and commentators will be read in addition to help reveal the importance of Schopenhauer’s and Nietzsche’s ideas.

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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.

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The module will cover some of the major topics of the theory of reasoning, with a focus on presenting students with new and exciting research. The syllabus will vary from year to year. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and may involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

As an indication of the kind of topics covered, the following are three potential syllabi, one of which might operate in any particular year:

1. Probability and probabilistic reasoning. This syllabus will present the major interpretations of probability and their connection with the various kinds of probabilistic reasoning. Topics covered might include: the classical interpretation; the logical interpretation; the subjective interpretation; the frequency interpretation; the propensity interpretation; the objective Bayesian interpretation. The key text will be D.A.Gillies (2000): Philosophical theories of probability, Routledge.

2. Causality and causal reasoning. This syllabus will present the major theories of causality, including difference-making theories (probabilistic theories, counterfactual theories, agency theories), mechanistic theories (process theories, complex systems theories) and pluralist theories. It will go on to consider methods of causal reasoning in the sciences and the implications of such methods for the metaphysics of causality. In the absence of a comprehensive text, this syllabus will appeal to papers, especially those in the Oxford Handbook of Causation (OUP 2009), and Causality in the Sciences (OUP 2011).

3. Invalid arguments. This syllabus will look in detail at methods of assessing the cogency of deductively invalid arguments. In particular it will present the methods of inductive logic for assessing the plausibility of arguments. It will provide an introduction to probabilistic logics and their semantics, as well as to methods of inference in probabilistic logics, with a focus on elementary methods that can be readily acquired by students with little prior training in logic and no prior knowledge of probability theory. In the absence of a text at a suitable level, this syllabus will be accompanied by a set of detailed lecture notes.

Convenor: Jon Williamson

Jon Williamson works on various topics connected with reasoning, inference and scientific method, including causal reasoning in the sciences, inductive reasoning, and the nature of probability. The aim of this module is to introduce students to cutting-edge research on topics such as these. Jon is editor of the gazette The Reasoner, co-director of the Centre for Reasoning, and author of books on reasoning such as Bayesian nets and causality (OUP 2005), In defence of objective Bayesianism (OUP 2010) and Probabilistic logics and probabilistic networks (Springer 2011).

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Under what circumstances might it be permissible to use violence to further political goals? What distinguishes different sorts of political violence? Ought the state to have a monopoly on political violence? Are there some methods that should never be used to further political goals? In this course, we will look at the various forms of political violence, and consider how political and legal theorists have tried to regulate violent interaction between states and within states. We will examine the conceptual difficulties that arise when postulating international laws, and consider the role of the United Nations as international mediator and law enforcer. We will also look at the rights of self-determination amongst sub-national groups, and at the obligations of the international community to intervene to prevent humanitarian abuses.

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Is it right that the talented profit from their (undeserved) talents? Should the government provide compensation for people who find it hard to meet that special someone? Is the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation a benevolent charity, or an unelected, unaccountable group wielding enormous political power?

This course is divided into two parts. The first part examines classic topics in political philosophy, such as the sources and scope of political authority, and the ideals of equality and freedom. The second part of the course will explore issues within contemporary political philosophy, such as our obligations to those in the developing world, the circumstances under which one might legitimately employ civil disobedience, and the politics of immigration. We will consider whether we can make sense of political obligation between states as well as within states. We will look at these issues in the context of particular case studies, such as the recent debate over the showing of an anti-Islam film in the House of Lords, and the West's failure to intervene in Rwanda.

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How does truth relate to existence? This module looks at the connection between truths and the things that make them true. We consider questions relating to the connection between truth and ontology (or existence) concerning time, persistence, possibility, generality, composition, and causation. We will look at how these issues are discussed in contemporary analytic metaphysics. We will explore both what solutions looking at the connections between truth and ontology might offer, whether this approach to the problems is useful, and how best to communicate the problems we discuss.

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This module provides an introduction to some of the major works in ancient Greek philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient Greek intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how Greek philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.

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This module provides an opportunity for independent work within an area of philosophy chosen by the student. THOSE WHO WISH TO TAKE THIS MODULE MUST (1) ENSURE THAT THERE IS A MEMBER OF THE PHILOSOPHY BOARD OF STUDIES WILLING TO SUPERVISE THEIR WORK; (2) SUBMIT AN OUTLINE AND PROVISIONAL TITLE OF THE PROPOSED DISSERTATION, ENDORSED BY THE PROSPECTIVE SUPERVISOR, TO THE MODULE CONVENOR FOR APPROVAL BEFORE BEING ADMITTED ONTO THE MODULE. STUDENTS ARE STRONGLY ADVISED TO JOIN ONE OF THE READING GROUPS (TO BE ANNOUNCED) AND WORK ON THEIR ESSAY AND DISSERTATION WITHIN THAT CONTEXT.The Dissertation should normally be about 9000 (maximum 10000) words long; it may consist either of an essay on a single theme, or of two or three Essays on complementary themes in Philosophy. Please note that the Dissertation is one of the most difficult modules. You should not apply to register for it unless you have a definite project to which you are seriously committed with the support of a member of staff who is willing to supervise you.

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This module provides an opportunity for students to produce a substantial piece of independent philosophical work, and at the same time to improve their skills in essay writing by getting one-to-one supervision and feedback on a specific piece of work. It is available to Single Honours and Joint Honours Philosophy students. It cannot be taken by other students as a 'wild module'. THOSE WISHING TO TAKE THE MODULE MUST ENSURE THAT THERE IS A MEMBER OF THE PHILOSOPHY BOARD OF STUDIES WILLING TO SUPERVISE THEIR WORK. THEY MUST SUBMIT AN OUTLINE OF THE PROPOSED AREA OF STUDY, ENDORSED BY THE PROSPECTIVE SUPERVISOR, TO THE MODULE CONVENOR FOR APPROVAL BEFORE BEING ADMITTED ONTO THE MODULE.

The Extended Essay should not be more than 5000 words long and must be submitted by the first day of the following term. Please note that the extended essay is considered a difficult module. You should not apply to register for it unless you have a definite project to which you are seriously committed with the support of a member of staff who is willing to supervise you.

Note: you can not take PL520 in conjunction with PL507 Philosophy Dissertation

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What is art? What is an artwork? Do all types and examples of (what are traditionally classed as) artworks have identifying features in common? If so, what are they? Or, are there such interesting differences between works of literature, pieces of sculpture and the like, that searching for a definition of art is a futile task and this type of question misguided? Do avant-garde works count as art? Can anything count as art, such as food, if it’s presented in the right way or made with the right sort of intention? What does all of this tell us about the nature of definition generally?

These are some of the questions that we will explore at the start of this course. After that we will consider other issues and questions. What is the relation of art to beauty and other aesthetic qualities? What is it for a performance to be ‘authentic’ and is this sort of performance to be privileged in any way? Why is rock music such a part of our lives? Is there anything aesthetically wrong with a forgery? What is the nature of aesthetic experience and of our emotional responses to art? Why do we care so much about the fate of fictional characters? Is there any difference between pornography and erotica? Are artists subject to a different moral code? And what on earth is the point of public art? What is public art?

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We typically value justified belief more than simple belief, for very good reasons: a justified belief is more likely to be true than a randomly selected one. Indeed, we value knowledge even more than justified belief, since, arguably, a belief that qualifies as knowledge is true. But when is a belief justified? And what is knowledge? Is any of our beliefs justified? Do we know anything at all? Do we know that it's 8 o’ clock if at 8 o’ clock we see a broken watch indicating 8 o’ clock? Do we know that our cat is sleeping on the sofa, if we don’t know that we’re not brains in a vat? This module investigates these and other epistemological questions, mostly by looking at some deeply puzzling sceptical arguments, some of which areas old as Philosophy is, and all of which have sprung very lively debates in the recent philosophical literature.

This module is designed to introduce students to some key philosophical notions – such as belief, justification and knowledge – and to some of the most exciting and interesting literature on the subject. The module begins with a brief overview of the literature on the analysis of knowledge – this will introduce students to the main philosophical approaches to justification and knowledge: internalism and externalism. The module will then move on to consider two influential forms of Skepticism: Pyrronian skepticism and Cartesian skepticism. Students will be introduced to the main views on the structure of justification – foundationalism, coherentism and entitlement approaches – as well as to the main semantic accounts of 'know’ – contextualism, dogmatism and relevant alternatives/tracking theories. Some epistemic principles, such as the so-called KK principle, will be introduced via the presentation of epistemic paradoxes, such as the Surprise Examination Paradox.

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We often make claims about the world, whether in Ethics, Aesthetics, Metaphysics, History or Science. These claims might be thought to involve a correspondence between how we think about the world and how the world 'really is'. This course aims to examine questions of realism and anti-realism: does the world outrun our ability to talk about it? Do some ways of talking about the world capture how the world really is? Can we even make sense of there being a world independent of how we think about it?

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What makes it the case that certain actions, such as stealing and sharing, have ethical value? Are ethical values such as goodness and badness, compassion and cruelty, mind-independent ethical properties, properties that exist no matter what anyone thinks, desires, aims at and the like? Or are there no such ethical properties at all and when we call something good we are just expressing our emotions and feelings about a nonethical world? Are there any other positions available?

This course is designed to introduce you to some of the most exciting and interesting philosophical literature in recent years, which brings together ethics and metaphysics with a little epistemology and philosophy of language. The first half of this course will examine (what are often called) "metaethical" questions such as those above. We will then move on to discuss debates concerning moral psychology and motivation. When one says 'charity-giving is good' is it a matter of necessity that one will be motivated to some extent to give to charity? Or is it possible for one to make such a judgement and have no motivation at all (and for such a judgement to count as a legitimate moral judgement)? At the end we will see how these questions concerning psychology are integral to the earlier debates of metaphysics. Throughout, we will be examining these questions and issues by looking at work by authors from the start of the twentieth century (e.g. G. E. Moore) and by more recent writers (e.g. Simon Blackburn, Allan Gibbard, J. L. Mackie, John McDowell and Michael Smith).

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This course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.

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Please note: all Module Handbook information is subject to change pending faculty approval.

Wittgenstein is widely thought to have been the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century. This module will concentrate in depth on some of Wittgenstein’s work by focusing on selected passages of his writings. The actual passages or texts focused on from year to year may vary.

Wittgenstein

Julia Tanney’s interest in Wittgenstein began as an undergraduate when she was introduced to the ideas of Wittgenstein through the teachings of Philippa Foot, David Pears, and Rogers Albritton, and, as a graduate student, of Crispin Wright. She has taught the Philosophical Investigations for over 20 years in England and in France. She has produced several articles, including “Real Rules”, “Reason-Explanation and the Contents of the Mind”, “On the Conceptual, Psychological, and Moral Status of Zombies, Swamp-Beings, and other ‘Behaviorally Indistinguishable’ Creatures”, and “Self-Knowledge, Normativity, and Construction”, reprinted in Rules, Reason, and Self-Knowledge (Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2012) which bring to bear Wittgenstein’s later philosophy on today’s theorizing in the philosophy of mind and action. This module uses the virtual world of Second Life to bring Wittgenstein’s primitive language games to life and to help students reflect on questions such as what it is to understand, think, intend, act for reasons, and to mean what we say.

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This module studies some central questions in philosophy of religion, drawing on topics in metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, philosophy of language and philosophy of mind. It begins by studying and critically assessing three of the 'classical' arguments for the existence of God—the ontological argument, the cosmological argument and the argument from design —which consider respectively whether reason, science or experience can show us that God exists. It goes on to consider the relationship between religion and morality, examining Kant’s moral argument, which appears to support a case for the existence of God, and Plato’s Euthyphro Dilemma, which appears to tell against it. Finally, it considers some central topics in religious epistemology, language and philosophy of mind, including: miracles, the nature of religious experience, religious language and personal identity. One underlying question the module considers is whether the above arguments and topics could be used to support or tell against an argument for the overall rationality of religious belief.

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Language is a wonderful thing. Groups of marks or bursts of sound are just physical entities but, when produced by a writer or a speaker, they are used to point beyond themselves. This is the property of aboutness or intentionality. Other physical entities generally don't have this property. When you hear a sentence, you hear a burst of sound, but typically you also understand a meaning conveyed by the speaker. What is the meaning of a word – some weird entity that floats alongside the word, a set of rules associating the word with objects, an intention in the mind of the speaker….? What is the difference between what your words imply and what you convey in saying them? How are words used non-literally, how do hearers catch on to the meaning of a newly minted metaphor? How can we mean and convey so much when uttering a concise sentence? How is it that learning a second language can be so frustrating and time consuming, whereas we learn our first language with no trouble at all? The questions keep coming. In this module we shall try to find some answers.

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The aim of this course is to engage in the study of specific topics in the philosophy of mind, language, or action and to engage with the criticism of contemporary approaches as it is found in the works of Wittgenstein, Ryle, Anscombe, and/or Austin.

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Logic is the study of the methods and principles used to distinguish correct reasoning from incorrect reasoning and, as such, it is a crucial component of any philosophy course. Moreover, logic has applications other than the testing of arguments for cogency: it is also a widely used and useful tool for clarifying the problematic concepts that have traditionally troubled philosophers, e.g., deductive consequence, rational degree of belief, knowledge, necessary truth, identity, etc. Indeed, much contemporary philosophy cannot be understood without a working knowledge of logic. Given this, logic is an important subject for philosophy students to master.

The module will primarily cover propositional and predicate logic. Regarding propositional and predicate logic, the focus will be on methods for testing the validity of an argument. These methods will allow students to distinguish correct from incorrect reasoning. The module will also cover inductive and modal logics. Regarding inductive and modal logics, the focus will be on clarifying epistemological concepts through the use of these logics.

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of science. Texts to be studied will be drawn from a list which includes major works by philosophers such as Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Salmon, etc. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

Themes to be studied will include: the nature of scientific theory change, the status of scientific claims, the methodology of scientific reasoning, the prospects for automating scientific reasoning.

The course will cover a range of topics such as:

Inductivism versus falsificationism

Research Programmes

Incommensurability

Realism

Instrumentalism

Probabilistic Reasoning

Causal Reasoning

Mathematical Reasoning

Confirmation

Explanation

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The module will study some of the major works in the history of modern philosophy of cognitive science and artificial intelligence. An indicative list of topics is: The Turing test; the Chinese Room argument; the frame problem; connectionism; extended and embodied cognition; artificial consciousness. The approach will be philosophical and critical, and will involve the close reading of texts. Students will be expected to engage critically with the works being studied and to formulate and argue for their own views on the issues covered.

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You have the opportunity to select wild modules in this stage

Teaching and assessment

Comparative Literature

For most modules, you have one two-hour seminar per week. The Final-Year Dissertation is based entirely on your private research but is supervised by a tutor and includes workshops and the chance to participate in an undergraduate conference. Assessment varies from 100% coursework to a combination of examination and coursework, usually in the ratio 50:50 or 40:60.

Comparative Literature students can also choose to take a module that is linked to our SWIPE (Student Work in Progress Exposition) conference. SWIPE is an annual one-day conference organised by Comparative Literature students: it is a platform for our third-year students who give 15-minute presentations on their final-year dissertation projects. SWIPE is a fantastic experience for students, as they learn everything about planning, organising and running a conference, as well as about the art of preparing and giving professional conference presentations.

We also offer a module designed specifically for students who are planning to embark on a career in teaching: Comparative Literature and English & Linguistics in the Classroom.

Philosophy

Teaching is by lectures, seminars, class discussions, and individual and group research, which is discussed in class.

All modules are assessed by 100% coursework (essays, in-class assignments, seminar participation) throughout the year.

Programme aims

For programme aims and learning outcomes please see the programme specification for each subject below. Please note that outcomes depend on your specific module selection:

Careers

Graduate destinations

Our graduates have found jobs in diverse areas including:

  • journalism
  • broadcasting and media
  • publishing
  • writing and teaching
  • banking
  • marketing analysis
  • project management.

A significant percentage of our students pursue further study for postgraduate qualifications.

Help finding a job

The School of European Culture and Languages' Employability programme, includes work-related modules and work placements. Both of these are a key part of the ‘Comparative Literature and English & Linguistics in the Classroom’ module, designed for budding teachers, which combines traditional learning methods with practical teaching experience.

The University also has a friendly Careers and Employability Service which can give you advice on how to:

  • apply for jobs
  • write a good CV
  • perform well in interviews.

Career-enhancing skills

As well as gaining skills and knowledge in your subject areas, you also learn the key transferable skills that are essential for all graduates. These include the ability to:

  • think critically 
  • communicate your ideas and opinions
  • manage your time effectively 
  • work independently and as part of a team.

You can also gain extra skills by signing up for one of our Kent Extra activities, such as learning a language or volunteering.

Independent rankings

Comparative Literature at Kent was ranked 2nd in the UK for the percentage of students who found professional jobs after graduation in 2015 (DLHE).

Philosophy students who graduated from Kent in 2015 were the most successful in the UK at finding work or further study opportunities (DLHE).

According to Which? University (2017), the average starting salary for graduates of this degree is £18,000.

Entry requirements

Home/EU students

The University will consider applications from students offering a wide range of qualifications. Typical requirements are listed below. Students offering alternative qualifications should contact us for further advice. 

It is not possible to offer places to all students who meet this typical offer/minimum requirement.

New GCSE grades

If you’ve taken exams under the new GCSE grading system, please see our conversion table to convert your GCSE grades.

Qualification Typical offer/minimum requirement
A level

BBB

Access to HE Diploma

The University will not necessarily make conditional offers to all Access candidates but will continue to assess them on an individual basis. 

If we make you an offer, you will need to obtain/pass the overall Access to Higher Education Diploma and may also be required to obtain a proportion of the total level 3 credits and/or credits in particular subjects at merit grade or above.

BTEC Level 3 Extended Diploma (formerly BTEC National Diploma)

The University will consider applicants holding BTEC National Diploma and Extended National Diploma Qualifications (QCF; NQF; OCR) on a case-by-case basis. Please contact us for further advice on your individual circumstances.

International Baccalaureate

34 points overall or 15 points at HL

 

 

 

International students

The University welcomes applications from international students. Our international recruitment team can guide you on entry requirements. See our International Student website for further information about entry requirements for your country.

If you need to increase your level of qualification ready for undergraduate study, we offer a number of International Foundation Programmes.

Meet our staff in your country

For more advice about applying to Kent, you can meet our staff at a range of international events.

English Language Requirements

Please see our English language entry requirements web page.

Please note that if you are required to meet an English language condition, we offer a number of 'pre-sessional' courses in English for Academic Purposes. You attend these courses before starting your degree programme. 

General entry requirements

Please also see our general entry requirements.

Fees

The 2018/19 regulated UK/EU tuition fees have not yet been set. The University intends to set fees at the maximum permitted level for new and returning UK/EU students. Please see further information below.

As a guide only the 2017/18 full-time UK/EU tuition fees for this programme are £9,250 unless otherwise stated: 

UK/EU Overseas
Full-time £9250 £15200
Part-time £4625 £7600

For students continuing on this programme, fees will increase year on year by no more than RPI + 3% in each academic year of study except where regulated.* 

Your fee status

The University will assess your fee status as part of the application process. If you are uncertain about your fee status you may wish to seek advice from UKCISA before applying.

Fees for Year in Industry

For 2017/18 entrants, the standard year in industry fee for home, EU and international students is £1,350. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

Fees for Year Abroad

UK, EU and international students on an approved year abroad for the full 2017/18 academic year pay £1,350 for that year. Fees for 2018/19 entry have not yet been set.

Students studying abroad for less than one academic year will pay full fees according to their fee status. 

General additional costs

Find out more about accommodation and living costs, plus general additional costs that you may pay when studying at Kent.

Funding

University funding

Kent offers generous financial support schemes to assist eligible undergraduate students during their studies. See our funding page for more details. 

Government funding

You may be eligible for government finance to help pay for the costs of studying. See the Government's student finance website.

Scholarships

General scholarships

Scholarships are available for excellence in academic performance, sport and music and are awarded on merit. For further information on the range of awards available and to make an application see our scholarships website.

The Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence

At Kent we recognise, encourage and reward excellence. We have created the Kent Scholarship for Academic Excellence. 

For 2018/19 entry, the scholarship will be awarded to any applicant who achieves a minimum of AAA over three A levels, or the equivalent qualifications (including BTEC and IB) as specified on our scholarships pages

The scholarship is also extended to those who achieve AAB at A level (or specified equivalents) where one of the subjects is either Mathematics or a Modern Foreign Language. Please review the eligibility criteria.

Full-time

Part-time

The Key Information Set (KIS) data is compiled by UNISTATS and draws from a variety of sources which includes the National Student Survey and the Higher Education Statistical Agency. The data for assessment and contact hours is compiled from the most populous modules (to the total of 120 credits for an academic session) for this particular degree programme. 

Depending on module selection, there may be some variation between the KIS data and an individual's experience. For further information on how the KIS data is compiled please see the UNISTATS website.

If you have any queries about a particular programme, please contact information@kent.ac.uk.