Study Abroad and Exchanges



PHI3005 : Knowledge, Power and Desire

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 10.0


This module introduces students to influential Enlightenment conceptions of ‘knowledge,’ in particular to the relation between these conceptions and scientific rationality, and to their persistence in contemporary tacit assumptions about what it is to ‘know.’ By means of a critical examination of two philosophical accounts of the interconnection between forms of knowledge and networks of power and desire, and of the critical methodology most appropriate to this interconnection, students are enabled to analyse and to challenge the ways in which the human and natural sciences have operated, and continue to operate, in shifting historical configurations.

Outline Of Syllabus

1) Enlightenment
2) Reason
3) Power
4) Desire

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion601:0060:00Preparation and completion of essays
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching201:0020:00Seminars
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1100:00100:00Review and reflect upon lecture and other source material and prepare for small group teaching
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Lectures introduce students to: key concepts and methods relevant to the interconnection of knowledge, power, and desire; the implications of this interconnection for influential paradigms of knowledge; an analysis of the nature and dominance of scientific rationality. The seminar format facilitates students’ exposure to the historico-philosophical methods of analysis at work, and begins the students’ development of skills in the identification and application of these methods. Reading and reflection on the course texts takes place during private study hours.

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 essays test the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently as well as managing one’s own work to set time limits. This assessment method also gauges the students’ ability to move between generalisation and appropriately detailed discussion, to cite relevant texts and interpret them adequately, to discover examples in support of or to challenge a position, and to distinguish between relevant and irrelevant considerations.

Students are assessed on their ability to clearly articulate the nature of the historico-philosophical methods introduced on the course, and on their capacity to submit those methods to a critical discussion that takes account both of their philosophical commitments and of their concrete application to contemporary scientific categories and practices of knowledge.

Reading Lists