Existentialism and its Critics

Subject 161-220 (2008)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2008.Search for this in the current handbook

Credit Points: 12.500
Level: Undergraduate
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2008:

Semester 2, - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Total Time Commitment: Not available
Prerequisites: A least one first-year single-semester philosophy subject, or permission from the Head of School or subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None
Recommended Background Knowledge: None
Non Allowed Subjects: None
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support: http://services.unimelb.edu.au/disability


Dr Marion Tapper
Subject Overview:

This subject is concerned with the tension between the freedom implied by consciousness and the constraints imposed by nature, culture and society. Freedom of thought and action arises from our capacity for reflection and imagination. And yet as natural, social and historical beings we appear as selves to be constrained by our biological and psychological needs and our social and historical position. The extent to which these factors constrain or merely influence our lives will be examined. The first half of the subject will be a study of key themes in Sartre's Being and Nothingness, particularly his account of human freedom. We will then consider the consequences for such freedom from consideration of Althusser's account of ideology and Foucault's account of power. On completion of the subject, students should be able to recognise the distinctive nature of philosophical problems and their significance for other areas of thought; know how to go about working through such problems; be in a position to engage with more philosophical material and to apply their philosophical skills in other disciplines.

Assessment: A written assignment of 500 words 10% (due early in the semester), a written assignment of 1500 words 40% (due mid-semester), a 2-hour written examination (not open-book) 47% (held at the end of semester) and tutorial participation 3%.
Prescribed Texts: Prescribed Texts:A subject reader will be available.
Breadth Options: This subject is a level 2 or level 3 subject and is not available to new generation degree students as a breadth option in 2008.
This subject or an equivalent will be available as breadth in the future.
Breadth subjects are currently being developed and these existing subject details can be used as guide to the type of options that might be available.
2009 subjects to be offered as breadth will be finalised before re-enrolment for 2009 starts in early October.
Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • recognize the distinctive nature of philosophical problems and their significance for other areas of human thought;

  • know how to go about working through philosophical problems;

  • be in a position to engage with more advanced philosophical material in a wide range of areas;

  • be able to bring philosophical skills to bear upon their studies in other disciplines;

  • have improved their ability to engage with complex texts;

  • develop skill in the critique of arguments.


Students who have completed 161-106 Existentialism and its Critics are not eligible to enrol in this subject

Related Course(s): Bachelor of Arts
Diploma in Arts (Philosophy)
Diploma in Arts (Philosophy)

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