BASS Politics and Criminology / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL23002
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by School of Social Sciences
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


Existentialism is an approach to philosophical questions that can be found in the writings of Nineteenth Century authors such as Kierkegaard, Dostoyevsky, and Nietzsche, and more explicitly in Twentieth Century Philosophers Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir. Existentialist thought focuses on the meaning—for our individual lives—of lived experience, value, freedom, responsibility, and commitment, and is often associated with an ethics of authenticity. In this unit we will consider a selection of writings by these authors, looking at how existentialist ideas have been represented in both philosophy and literature.


  • introduce students to the philosophical writings of Nineteenth & Twentieth Century existentialists;
  • present the historical, philosophical, and literary context in which existentialism was developed;
  • explore in detail some central concepts of existentialism: meaning, value, lived experience, authenticity, mortality, etc;
  • show how existentialism relates to issues in ethics, epistemology and the philosophy of mind.

Learning outcomes

Student will be able to demonstrate:

  • an ability to identify the main philosophical questions arising in existentialist texts;
  • an ability to engage with some of the major issues in the interpretation of the existentialist tradition in philosophy;
  • an ability to evaluate the significance of existentialist philosophy;
  • an ability to relate the work of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Sartre, and de Beauvoir to other philosophical disciplines.


Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.



Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student's work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.
We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Joel Smith Unit coordinator

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