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Masters Degrees (Existential Philosophy)

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Philosophy at Essex takes philosophy back to its roots in everyday existential, social and political issues. Read more
Philosophy at Essex takes philosophy back to its roots in everyday existential, social and political issues. Our radical approach cuts across traditional boundaries, fostering dialogue between different schools and disciplines, and we are one of the few universities in the world that bridges the divide between the two great traditions of Analytic and Continental philosophy.

Our MA Philosophy will provide you with a rigorous grounding in modern and contemporary European philosophy. We have leading expertise in critical theory, phenomenology, German Idealism, nineteenth Century German philosophy, aesthetics, existentialism, contemporary French philosophy, philosophy and psychoanalysis, and medical humanities.

You study modules of your choice, develop your research, writing, and employability skills through an intensive Writing Workshop, and prepare an MA dissertation in your chosen area of research.

Our department is widely regarded as among the very best in the UK, having been recognised as one of the top 10 UK universities for research excellence (REF 2014), and being placed in the top 10 in The Guardian University Guide in 2010, 2011, and 2013.

As an alternative to our more flexible MA Philosophy, you can focus your study on a more specific area by following one of the following pathways:

MA Philosophy (Continental Philosophy Pathway)
All of our academic staff work on Continental Philosophy, including classical German philosophy (Kant and German Idealism), Frankfurt School Critical Theory (Adorno, Habermas, Honneth), nineteenth-century philosophy (Kierkegaard, Marx, Nietzsche), and phenomenology (Husserl, Heidegger, Merleau-Ponty). On this pathway you choose from a range of specified topics in these areas, in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Continental Philosophy.

MA Philosophy (Critical Social Theory Pathway)
We are the leading centre for Critical Social Theory in the UK with five members of academic staff working on the Frankfurt School (Adorno, Habermas, Honneth), contemporary French thought (Derrida, Foucault, Rancière) and issues in Critical Social Theory, such as activist political theory, theory of recognition, aesthetics and politics, deliberative democracy, and the moral limits of markets. On this pathway you study modules on the Frankfurt School and Contemporary Critical Theory, in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Critical Social Theory.

MA Philosophy (Philosophy and Art History Pathway)
Drawing on the collaborative and interdisciplinary approach of the School, our new Philosophy and Art History pathway enables students to get a thorough grounding in philosophical aesthetics. You explore issues in aesthetics and their bearing on other areas of philosophy (such as critical theory or existentialism) and Art History (such as aesthetic practices and curating), and profit from the wide-ranging expertise of our staff in both disciplines. On this pathway you study modules on Philosophy/Aesthetics and Art History (dealing, for example, with Art & Politics, Art, Architecture and Urbanism, or Art, Science & Knowledge), in addition to some outside options and a dissertation on a topic in Philosophy and Art History.

Our expert staff

Our courses are taught by world-class academics, and over three quarters of our research is rated “world-leading” or “internationally excellent” (REF 2014), which puts us fifth in the UK for research outputs.

Our open-minded and enthusiastic staff have an exceptionally broad range of research interests, so whatever questions in philosophy catch hold of your imagination, there is certain to be someone you can approach to find out more.

Recent projects and publications include:
-Béatrice Han-Pile and Dan Watts’ major new research project, The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today
-The Essex Autonomy Project, a major interdisciplinary project funded by the AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council), which aims to investigate the role of autonomous judgment in many aspects of human life
-Peter Dews’ The Idea of Evil, Polity, 2007
-Béatrice Han-Pile, Foucault’s Critical Project: Between the Transcendental and the Historical, Stanford University Press, 2002
-Fiona Hughes, Kant’s Critique of Aesthetic Judgement: A Reader’s Guide, Edinburgh University Press, 2007.
-Wayne Martin, Theories of Judgement: Psychology, Logic, Phenomenology, Cambridge University Press, 2006
-Irene McMullin’s Time and the Shared World: Heidegger on Social Relations, Northwestern University Press, 2013
-Fabian Freyenhagen’s Adorno’s Practical Philosophy: Living Less Wrongly, Cambridge University Press, 2013

Specialist facilities

-Graduate students have access to desk space in the School and many students work there on a daily basis
-A dedicated German-language course for graduate students in philosophy
-Attend our Critical Theory Colloquium
-Attend the Werkstatt, where recent work on phenomenology is presented
-An exciting programme of research seminars, reading groups and mini-courses that help you expand your philosophical knowledge beyond what you learn on your course
-Access a variety of philosophy textbooks and journals in the Albert Sloman Library and in our departmental library

Your future

Many of our philosophy graduates embark on doctoral study after finishing their MA. We offer supervision for PhDs in a range of fields including:
-Continental philosophy
-Critical Social Theory
-History of philosophy
-Applied ethics

Our graduates have also gone into careers in law, the media, local administration, HM Revenue and Customs, and top jobs in the Civil Service.

We work with our university’s Employability and Careers Centre to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.

Example structure

-Dissertation: Continental Philosophy (optional)
-Dissertation: Critical Social Theory (optional)
-Dissertation: MA Philosophy (optional)
-Dissertation: Philosophy & Art History (optional)
-Phenomenology and Existentialism (optional)
-Kant's Revolution in Philosophy (optional)
-Hegel (optional)
-Contemporary Critical Theory (optional)
-Topics in Continental Philosophy (optional)
-MA Writing Workshop (optional)
-The Frankfurt School (optional)
-Philosophy and Aesthetics (optional)
-Collecting Art From Latin America (optional)
-Art & Politics (optional)
-Current Research in Art History (optional)
-Art, Architecture and Urbanism (optional)
-Contemporary Theories of Justice (optional)
-Environmental Politics (optional)
-Political Economy (optional)
-Political Theory (optional)
-Research Seminar in Political Theory and Methods (optional)
-Theory and Explanation in Political Science (optional)
-Ideology and Political Discourse (optional)
-The New Nature Writing (optional)
-Foundations of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (optional)
-The Protection of Refugees and Displaced Persons in International Law (optional)
-Human Rights and Development (optional)
-International Trade, Investment and Human Rights. (optional)
-Human Rights for Women (optional)
-Transitional Justice (optional)
-Psycho Analytic Theory (optional)
-Psychoanalytic Methodology (optional)

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An intensive foundation in counselling for those who meet elements of counselling in their day-to-day work and who wish to enter this field professionally. Read more

An intensive foundation in counselling for those who meet elements of counselling in their day-to-day work and who wish to enter this field professionally.

This programme is designed to provide an intensive foundation in counselling for those who meet elements of counselling in their day-to-day work and who wish to enter this field professionally, but lack sufficient experience and qualification to study at postgraduate diploma level.

It is particularly suitable for those anticipating an application to our MA in Counselling.

The programme is taught by means of theoretical lectures, seminars, experiential workshops and group tutorials. You’ll study key theoretical concepts that inform the practice of humanistic and psychodynamic counselling and will identify the specific responsibilities and processes of the counselling alliance.

Please note: the programme is at post-experience rather than postgraduate level.

The programme covers

  • Humanistic approaches to counselling, with special emphasis on the philosophy and influence of Carl Rogers
  • Psychodynamic principles of counselling, with reference to growth and development, unconscious processes and intra-psychic conflicts
  • The ethics of counselling: boundaries and responsibility
  • Good practice and care for the counsellor: self-awareness, supervision and meeting your own needs
  • Transcultural Counselling, looking into issues of diversity and dominance in the counselling relationship

Modules & structure

This course takes place over 26 weeks. In 2017-18, teaching will take place on Wednesdays, 6-9pm.

Autumn term

  • Defining the counselling alliance
  • Fundamental conditions of the counselling relationship
  • Overview of the humanistic framework
  • Carl Rogers and person-centred counselling
  • Gerard Egan's goal-orientated approach
  • Existential philosophy and Gestalt therapy
  • Comparing and contrasting the different humanistic theories

Spring term

  • Defining the psychodynamic model (Freud, Klein)
  • Introduction to human growth and development
  • Attachment, containment and trust (Bowlby and Winnicott)
  • Unconscious processes: transference and countertransference, projection and introjection, defence mechanisms

Summer term

  • Defining Transcultural Counselling and its impact
  • Exploring issues of diversity, gender, race, and power in the counselling relationship
  • Ethical professional frameworks, supervision, and self-care
  • Treatment ending

Assessment

Assessment is continual and is carried out by means of 2 essays of 2,500 words; a reflective journal and a practical skills assessment. Students must pass all four essays pieces of work to be awarded the Certificate. 40% constitutes the pass mark.

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Skills & careers

Skills

You'll develop critical, communication and interpersonal skills, and listening skills.

Careers

Suitable careers for graduates of this programme include:

  • support and welfare work
  • residential social work
  • teaching
  • advocacy
  • mentoring

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths



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