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Existential Philosophy & Critical Theory

What is the Structured Elective about?
Many of the questions studied in Philosophy are ones that occur naturally to us, such as: Is the mind just a machine (or: can machines think)? Is truth relative? What is meaning? What is knowledge? What is mind or consciousness? How can we imagine a better world? A central focus of a philosophical approach to an issue is to focus on and further refine a motivating query to find a question that is crucial to understanding important features of human life and both robust and supple enough to generate a variety of approaches to answering that question. The modules available in this structured elective:

  1. Introduce students to some key philosophical issues and arguments;
  2. Enable students to be able to analyse and evaluate philosophical arguments;
  3. Facilitate students to construct (both verbally and in written form) a robust argument for a point of view;
  4. Encourage students to acquire and develop the habits of independent thought and critical reasoning.

Why should I take this Structured Elective?
Philosophical questions are very general and cut across the other domains of human knowledge. The philosophical way of answering these questions is for the most part the use of reason, as opposed to observation or experiment as in natural science, and as opposed to revelation or direct insight as in religion. Furthermore, Philosophy is uniquely general: it seeks to understand how all the other domains of human knowledge and culture fit together, and how, in the most general terms, they connect to reality. In taking this elective you will be enabled to apply the knowledge and understanding gained in studying philosophical questions and methods to intellectual enquiry more broadly as well as specific pragmatic concerns.

How would this Structured Elective benefit me?
There are four key benefits to taking this structured elective:

  1. Employability:The first is that it signals to future employers that you have an interest and some aptitude for considering philosophical issues and methods which allow for a reflexive and ‘big picture’ view. As new technologies impact and radically change the business world a broad approach to making analysis and responding to challenges is becoming increasingly valued;
  2. Making Judgements:This structured elective in Philosophy will offer students the opportunity to learn about the philosophical frameworks and methods through which they can attain a greater understanding of the skills of enquiry, argumentation, analysis and critical thinking that are the central focus of philosophy and complementary to the study of all other academic subjects.
  3. Communications and Working Skills: Perhaps more than most (and certainly more than many) disciplines, philosophy places an emphasis on dialogue in the formation of knowledge. A philosophical argument invites objections and seeks to refine its relevance and insight by making responses to objections. Tutorials are thus a central component of the module where students are encouraged to practice recognising the premises of arguments, to analyse if the moves that are made to support an argument are internally consistent and to construct objections to premises and the process of arriving at the claims of valid conclusions. These skills are fundamental to most professions and will remain transferrable across a range of careers.
  4. Learning Skills:In studying philosophy, students are required to develop skills in verbal and written communication, problem-solving, clear and disciplined thinking and analysis, along with robust and persuasive argumentation.

How do I take the modules in the Structured Elective?

  • In order to earn this Structured Elective you must take the specified modules in or after 2019/20
  • To receive this Structured Elective you must take the required modules as General Elective modules and not as Core or Option modules.
  • Students must pick 3 modules (15 credits) from the list of modules below to be eligible for the structured elective in Existential Philosophy & Critical Theory.
  • Over the course of your undergraduate studies you will have the opportunity to take elective modules in each year of your programme, so if you wish to undertake this Structured Elective in Existential Philosophy & Critical Theory, you must ensure that at least three of your elective choices are from the list below.
  • Students who successfully complete 15 credits in Existential Philosophy & Critical Theory will have this automatically noted on their final UCD degree transcript. The transcript will state that you have completed the Structured Elective in Existential Philosophy & Critical Theory, in addition to your main degree subjects.
  • Students must pick three of the following modules to be eligible for the structured elective. It is recommended that modules are taken in the order of level 1, level 2, and level 3.
Module Title Credits
(opens in a new window)PHIL10020 Intro to Probs of Philosophy 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL10100 Existentialism and Humanism 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL20500 Phenomenology & Existentialism 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL20570 Philosophy & Literature
PHIL20630 Art and Society 5
PHIL20710 Body Mind World 5
(opens in a new window)PHIL30110 Post-Kantian German Philosophy 5
PHIL30280 Philosophy of Interpretation 5
PHIL30970 Phenomenology and History 5

Module Listing Updated July 2023

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