Module Catalogue 2016/17

PHI1005 : Existentialism and the Self

  • Offered for Year: 2016/17
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Adam Potts
  • Owning School: Philosophical Studies & Combined Honours
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0
Pre Requisites
Pre Requisite Comment


Co Requisites
Co Requisite Comment



This module aims to introduce students to the main themes in Existentialism, exploring the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Sartre, and topics such as the nature of free will, personhood and meaning.

Outline Of Syllabus

Introductory lecture: essence and existence
What is Existentialism?
Kierkegaard on the aesthetic sphere of existence and its shortcomings
Kierkegaard on the ethical sphere of existence and its shortcomings
Kierkegaard on the ‘leap of faith’ and the religious sphere of existence
Nietzsche on nihilism
Nietzsche on the metamorphoses of the spirit
Nietzsche on the Eternal Return of the Same
Freud on the unconscious
Sartre on existence and Existentialism
Sartre on free will and determinism
Sartre on bad faith and authenticity

Class discussion will explore, in particular, the following topics: topics concerning free will and determinism; faith, belief and the absurd; the coherence of the notion of the unconscious.

Learning Outcomes

Intended Knowledge Outcomes

Students will:
•       become acquainted with the principal theories of Existentialism developed from the mid nineteenth century to the present day;
•       come to recognise the impact that Existentialism has on other philosophical disciplines;
•       acquire a basic grasp of the central concepts of existence and essence.

Intended Skill Outcomes

Students will:
•       be able to use the terminology of Existentialism;
•       develop skills of analytical and critical thinking;
•       engage critically and sensitively of key texts, drawn from a variety of ages and traditions.

Graduate Skills Framework

Graduate Skills Framework Applicable: Yes
  • Cognitive/Intellectual Skills
    • Critical Thinking : Assessed
    • Data Synthesis : Assessed
    • Active Learning : Assessed
    • Literacy : Present
    • Information Literacy
      • Source Materials : Assessed
      • Synthesise And Present Materials : Assessed
      • Use Of Computer Applications : Present
  • Self Management
    • Self Awareness And Reflection : Present
    • Planning and Organisation
      • Goal Setting And Action Planning : Present
      • Decision Making : Present
    • Personal Enterprise
      • Innovation And Creativity : Present
      • Initiative : Present
      • Independence : Assessed
      • Problem Solving : Present
      • Adaptability : Present
  • Interaction
    • Communication
      • Oral : Present
      • Interpersonal : Present
      • Written Other : Assessed
    • Team Working
      • Collaboration : Present
  • Application
    • Social Cultural Global Awareness : Present

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion201:0020:00Preparation and completion of essays.
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1140:00140:00Prepare lecture material and prepare for small group teaching
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce central themes in European philosophy and provide an introduction to basic concepts and techniques in Existentialism. General study skills are to be taught in seminars, in particular skill in hermeneutically engaging with philosophical texts. Reading and reflecting on books and articles will take place in private study

Reading Lists

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay1A502000 words
Essay2A502000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The essay tests the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently, managing one’s own work to time limits. Students will be assessed on their knowledge of key topics in Existentialism. They will be assessed on their skill to sensitively interpret texts drawn from a variety of ages and traditions.


Past Exam Papers

General Notes

Original Handbook text:

Disclaimer: The information contained within the Module Catalogue relates to the 2016/17 academic year. In accordance with University Terms and Conditions, the University makes all reasonable efforts to deliver the modules as described. Modules may be amended on an annual basis to take account of changing staff expertise, developments in the discipline, the requirements of external bodies and partners, and student feedback. Module information for the 2017/18 entry will be published here in early-April 2017. Queries about information in the Module Catalogue should in the first instance be addressed to your School Office.