Courses – Philosophy & History of Thought


“Few tasks are more like the torture of Sisyphus than housework … The battle against dust and dirt is never won”  Simone de Beauvoir.

Jenny Kermally

Never-ending routines that are doomed to failure prevent us from living an authentic life, according to existentialists. But they do keep us safe from the ‘existential angst’ that comes from living authentically. We’ll explore the authentic life, existentialism today, and whether you’re brave enough to take the plunge!

Course Code: 04  113        Wednesday  10.00/12.00  5 weeks   Starts: 7 October 2020   Fees £40/£35




Tony Black  

Traditionally, the ruler was ‘the Son of Heaven’, with bureaucrats selected on merit. Confucius taught beneficence and rule by persuasion; Legalists advocated coercion to promote the interests of the majority. From 221 BCE till 1911, China was a ‘Confucian-Legalist’ state. Chinese Communism under Mao; from 1978 Communist rule has been combined with a partly free market, and there has been a revival of Confucianism among intellectuals

Course Code: 04 104   Monday  2.00/4.00  5 weeks   Starts: 9 November 2020  Fees: £40/£35




“man is a part of nature, and his war against nature is inevitably a war against himself” (Carson, The Silent Spring, 1963). 

Jenny Kermally

Part lecture, part discussion, the course will explore philosophical arguments about how we should think about the environment.  Focusing on the eco-philosophy of Val Plumwood, we’ll consider arguments that all living things have equal value, alongside arguments that environment matters because of its importance for humans.

Course Code: 04 211     Wednesday 10.00/12.00  5 weeks   Starts: 20 January 2021  Fees £40/£35



Tony Black 

This course examines and discusses the major traditions of political thought throught the world as they aretoday. These include Western liberalism and democracy, Marxism, Islam, Confucianism and Ghandi. We will consider what is involved in these ideologies, how they evolved, how they relate to each other, and what the implications of these different belief-systems are for international relations.

Course Code: 04 204    Monday 2.00/4.00   5 weeks   Starts 22 February 2021   Fees: £40/£35


PHILOSOPHY’S BAD BOY: Friedrich Nietzsche

Jenny Kermally

This course will look at the life, times and  ideas of  the controversial and thought-provoking philosopher. His work has been hugely influential sice the 1960s and he remains frequently quoted  as well as misunderstood. The precursor to both existensialism and postmodernism, Neitzsche has more recently been co-opted by the alt-right.

Course Code: 04 310   Wednesday   10.00/12.00    5 weeks   Starts: 21 April 2021       Fees: £40/£35



Tony Black

Islamic political thought is based on the teachings of Muhammad, who is seen as the last of the prophets, in the Qu’ran. The whole world must be ruled by his successors (caliphs) in accordance with the divine law (Shari’a), but with freedom for other monotheists (Christians, Jews, etc). Some tried to combine this with Plato’s ‘philosopher-king’. In modern times, some have given the Qu’ran a partly modern interpretation; others (‘fundamentalists’) have insisted on sticking with the original interpretation.

Course Code: 04 301      Monday 2.00/4.00  5 weeks   Starts  12 April 2021  Fees: £40/£35


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