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Reading Sartre - PHI00101I

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  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Peter Lamarque
  • Credit value: 10 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2018-19
    • See module specification for other years: 2019-20

Module summary

This module will provide a close reading of selected passages from Sartre's work on existentialism.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2018-19

Module aims

  • This module will provide a close reading of selected passages from Sartre's work on existentialism, notably Nausea, Existentialism and Humanism, and Being and Nothingness.
  • It will develop students' abilities to read closely and critically engage with historical philosophical texts.

Module learning outcomes

At the end of the module students should have:

  • acquired a critical understanding of selected concepts in Sartre's existentialist philosophy
  • read, and thought critically about, selected passages in Sartre's writings
  • reflected philosophically on the strengths and weaknesses of Sartre's ideas
  • reflected on the distinctive features of Sartre's philosophical approach, particularly its relation to "analytic" philosophy
  • reflected on some of the debates in the recommended secondary readings on Sartre
  • the ability to engage critically with historical philosophical texts

Module content

Jean-Paul Sartre (1905-1980) was one of the most prominent French intellectuals in the 20th Century, internationally known not only for his philosophical work but as a novelist, playwright and social critic. His writings helped both to define and also to popularise the philosophy of existentialism. Although his philosophical prose is often dense and allusive, his fictional characterisations present a vivid picture of what it is to live one’s life as an existentialist. Sartre turned increasingly to politics in his later life - embracing nearly all of the fashionable revolutionary creeds of the 1960’s - and, by way of political protest, turned down the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1964. His existentialism combined, on the one hand, a deep pessimism about the human predicament (the famous line “Hell is other people” appeared in his 1943 play Huis Clos) while, on the other, a strong commitment to personal responsibility and freedom of choice.

Topics to be discussed will include: existentialism and Sartre’s literary works, the nature of consciousness and “nothingness”, Being-In- Itself and Being-For- Itself, Being-For- Others, love and conflict in relations with Others, freedom, anguish and existentialist choice, and bad faith.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 Word Essay
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

The summative essay is due by 12 noon on Monday Week 1 of the Summer Term.


Task Length % of module mark
2500 Word Essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive feedback on the 600-word formative essay two weeks after they submit it.
Students will receive feedback on the 2500-word summative assessment and re-assessment four weeks after they submit it.

Students will also have the opportunity to discuss their feedback during the module tutor’s regular feedback and advice hours.

Indicative reading

J-P Sartre, Nausea, Existentialism and Humanism, and Being and Nothingness

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

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