Manchester Metropolitan University


European Philosophy

2017 entry

Features and benefits of the course

  • Focus on European (continental) philosophy.
  • Study in a friendly, supportive environment acclaimed for its high levels of pastoral care.
  • Research seminar and reading groups on offer.

About the course

The MA European Philosophy focuses on some of the key philosophers and philosophical movements in European philosophy from the 18th century through to the present day. It is designed to allow students to develop advanced philosophical and research skills, and encourages the application of these skills to significant contemporary issues and concerns.

Typical units of study may include

Year 1

Modules will include a selection from the following:

  • Key Texts in Modern European Philosophy
  • Contemporary Interpretations of Plato
  • Philosophy and Film
  • Jean-Luc Nancy: The Experience of Freedom
  • The Philosophy of Habit
  • Bergson and the Neo-vitalist Thought
  • Dissertation

Core Units

Consists of a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation on a subject of your choice.

Key Texts in Modern European Philosophy: The Monadology

This unit is devoted to a close reading of G. W. Leibniz’s Monadology, a seminal text for modern European philosophy, with the aim of understanding not only Leibniz’s doctrines and his arguments for them, but the context in which they were developed. It will introduce you to the advanced use of secondary literature. 

Likely Optional Units
Bergson and Neo-vitalist Thought

This unit will examine the philosophy of Henri Bergson in relation to developments in French philosophy and the life sciences in the 19th and 20th centuries. Bergson's thought has formed the basis for late 20th century revivals of interest in vitalism, the primacy of process and memory, and the fragmentation of traditional accounts of subjectivity. The main strands of Bergson's thought will be studied with particular reference to Matter and Memory (1896) and Creative Evolution (1907).  We will also look at excerpts from some of his respondents and critics, such as Canguilhem, Foucault and Deleuze.

Contemporary Interpretations of Plato

This unit is concerned with contemporary interpretations of Plato, the Sophists and the Cynics within the tradition of European philosophy as a basis for reflection on the predicament of nihilism and its provocations for philosophical thinking. Famously, the philosophical tradition has been said to be a series of footnotes to Plato. By studying key interpretative writings on Plato by two major 20th century European philosophers, and in particular the relation between truth, art and style in Plato’s writings, the course will establish the essential link between the critical delimitation of the philosophical tradition and the interpretation of Plato. It will show how this delimitation is as a response to the historical phenomenon of nihilism, identifying the specific conception of nihilism offered by each philosopher and assessing its implications.

Jean-Luc Nancy: The Experience of Freedom

This unit takes a single text (either, The Experience of Freedom (1988), of Being singular plural (1996) by Jean-Luc Nancy, as the focus for discussing an embedding of questions of ethics in the wider context of analyses of meaning, and of ontological enquiry about what there is in the world, and how it can be experienced and known. Nancy’s enquiries are framed by the double challenge to ethical enquiry which arrives in the absolute evil of the persecutory camps of Stalin and Hitler, as diagnosed by Hannah Arendt, and in the impact of bio-genetic technologies posing a challenge to conventional conceptions of the human, nature and history. This unit examines the resulting displacement within Jean-Luc Nancy’s thinking of the classical themes of phenomenology and of political theory in his concern for making sense of freedom, as the condition basic to human understanding and experience. The classical themes of freedom and sovereignty, from political theory, are brought together with the phenomenological method of detailed description and attention to repeating features of experience, leading to a transformation of both political theory and phenomenology.

Philosophy and Film

This unit explores the nature of film and how we understand our experience of film. The unit critically analyses 10 classic films made in various countries over the period 1945-2005. It enables students to address two basic questions: 1) Of the various ways of approaching films, what is peculiar to analysing them philosophically? 2) Of the various ways of doing philosophy, what is peculiar to doing it on and with film? These issues are worth exploring on their own because they influence how we appreciate and engage with film, one of the most popular and accessible forms of art. Instead of using film to illustrate or ornament preconceived positions, this course shows how film can be made both the subject and object of critical reflection.

The Philosophy of Habit

This unit is concerned with the ‘spiritualist’ tradition in 19th century French philosophy and its approach to issues concerning the nature of the self. The unit is focused on the work of Félix Ravaisson, who, in the middle of the century, forms an influential vitalist metaphysics on the basis of a dynamic conception of habit as inclination. The unit contextualises Ravaisson's work and the 19th-century tradition more generally with regard to Aristotle, the Scottish philosophy of the 18th century and developments in 20th century French thought.

Programme Review

Each programme of study that we offer undergoes an annual review to ensure an up-to-date curriculum supported by the latest online learning technology. In addition, we undertake a major review of the programme, normally at 6-yearly intervals, but this can take place at a more frequent interval where required. Applicants should note that the programme currently provided may be subject to change as a result of the review process. We only make changes where we consider it necessary to do so or where we feel that certain changes are in the best interests of students and to enhance the quality of provision. Occasionally, we have to make changes for reasons outside our control. Where there are changes which may materially affect the current programme content and/or structure, offer holders will be informed.

Assessment details

Assessment is continuous and based on a range of different coursework assignments (critical reviews, short and longer essays and a final dissertation of 12-15,000 words. You will also be able to participate in research seminars and reading groups.

Teaching Staff

Your studies are supported by a team of committed and enthusiastic teachers and researchers, experts in their chosen field. We also work with external professionals, many of whom are Manchester Met alumni, to enhance your learning and appreciation of the wider subject. Details of departmental staff can be found at:

Typical entry requirements

You will normally have at least an upper second-class undergraduate UK honours degree, preferably in single or joint honours philosophy, but other disciplines and internationally equivalent qualifications or experience will be considered.

There’s further information for international students on our international website if you’re applying with non-UK qualifications.

How do I apply for this course?

The quickest and most efficient way to apply for this course is to apply online. This way, you can also track your application at each stage of the process.

Apply online now

If you are unable to apply online, you can apply for full- and part-time taught courses by completing the postgraduate application form. There are exceptions for some professional courses – the course information on our on-line prospectus will give you more information in these cases.

Please note: to apply for this course, you only need to provide one reference.

Career options after the course

This programme provides graduates with the skills to progress to higher research programmes and offers opportunities for the acquisition of skills applicable to a range of appointments in the public and private sectors, including publishing, journalism, teaching, finance and law.

Course Enquiries

For general enquiries, entry requirements, fees, accommodation and more, please contact the course enquiries team.

Questions about the course content can be directed to,

Confirmation of Regulator

The Higher Education Funding Council for England is the principal regulator for the University.

Important Notice

This online prospectus provides an overview of our programmes of study and the University. We regularly update our online prospectus so that our published course information is accurate and up to date. Please note that our programmes are subject to review and development on an ongoing basis. Changes may sometimes be necessary. For example, to comply with the requirements of professional or accrediting bodies or as a result of student feedback or external examiners’ reports. We also need to ensure that our courses are dynamic and current and that the content and structure maintain academic standards and enhance the quality of the student experience.

Please check back to the online prospectus before making an application to us.

The provision of education by the University is subject to terms and conditions of enrollment and contract. The current Terms and Conditions Applicable to the provision of the University’s Educational Services are available online. When a student enrolls with us, their study and registration at the University will be governed by various regulations, policies and procedures. It is important that applicants/students familiarize themselves with our Terms and Conditions and the Key Contract Documents referred to within. Applicants will be provided with access to an up to date version at offer stage. This can be found within the Information for Offer Holders document.