Exploring Existential Texts


Existentialism is a philosophical movement that arguably began in the works of the German Idealists in the early Nineteenth Century. These thinkers shared a philosophical concern over the nature of the self that then began to develop in the works of the likes of Kierkegaard into something that became more recognisable as existentialism. With its focus on the individual as autonomous and self-defining, existentialism addressed issues like subjectivity, self-consciousness and living an 'authentic' existence that was the result of making real choices. As Sartre put it in the Twentieth Century, 'man first of all exists, and defines himself afterwards'. 

Programme details

Week 0: An introduction to Teams

Week 1:  Kierkegaard: 'Fear and Trembling' and 'The Concept of Anxiety'

Week 2:  Kierkegaard: The writings of Johannes Climacus and Anti-Climacus

Week 3:  Nietzsche: 'The Gay Science' and 'Thus Spake Zarathustra'

Week 4:  Nietzsche: 'Beyond Good and Evil'

Week 5:  Heidegger: 'Being and Time' Part One

Week 6:  Heidegger: 'Being and Time' Part Two

Week 7:  Sartre: 'Being and Nothingness' Part One

Week 8:  Sartre: 'Being and Nothingness' Part Two

Week 9:  Levinas: 'Totality and Infinity' and 'Of God Who Comes To Mind'

Week 10:  Camus: 'The Myth Of Sisyphus' and 'The Fall'


Background Reading

These books are not required for the course but have been recommended by the tutor for anyone with an interest in purchasing related literature.

Flynn, T., Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction

Warnock, M., Existentialism


Students who register for CATS points will receive a Record of CATS points on successful completion of their course assessment.

To earn credit (CATS points) you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee per course. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Coursework is an integral part of all weekly classes and everyone enrolled will be expected to do coursework in order to benefit fully from the course. Only those who have registered for credit will be awarded CATS points for completing work at the required standard.

Students who do not register for CATS points during the enrolment process can either register for CATS points prior to the start of their course or retrospectively from the January 1st after the current full academic year has been completed. If you are enrolled on the Certificate of Higher Education you need to indicate this on the enrolment form but there is no additional registration fee.


Description Costs
Course Fee £220.00
Take this course for CATS points £10.00


Dr Magnus Moar

Magnus Moar is a graduate of Oxford and Sussex Universities with a doctoral thesis focussing on the work of Kierkegaard.  Magnus has a published article on Kierkegaard and Levinas and has been teaching undergraduates for fifteen years.

Course aims

The aim of this course is to provide students with a good understanding of core existential texts, their key concepts and the key thinkers.

Course Objectives: 

1.  To enable students to appreciate how subjectivity and relativism can be valuable philosophical approaches.

2.  To situate existentialism within continental philosophy as a whole.

3.  To look at the impact of existentialism on religion, morality and politics.

Teaching methods

The sessions will be in a seminar format including both presentation of the key ideas and open discussion based around short extracts from the texts and associated articles. Students will have the opportunity, if they wish, to give a short presentation as a part of their portfolio assessment.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course students will be expected to:

1.  Be able to discuss some of the major concerns of the philosophers studied.

2.  Develop their critical and analytical skills through the reading, the portfolio and the sessions.

3.  Enable a keener sense of inter-communication through group discussion.

Assessment methods

Students can choose to complete the assessment via option A with two short assignments over the course or, alternatively, there is the option to follow option B and submit a single longer piece.

Students must submit a completed Declaration of Authorship form at the end of term when submitting your final piece of work. CATS points cannot be awarded without the aforementioned form.


Each course will close for enrolments 14 days prior to the start date to allow us to complete the course set up. We will email you at that time (14 days before the course begins) with further information and joining instructions. As always, students will want to check spam and junk folders during this period to ensure that these emails are received.

To earn credit (CATS points) for your course you will need to register and pay an additional £10 fee for each course you enrol on. You can do this by ticking the relevant box at the bottom of the enrolment form or when enrolling online.

Please use the 'Book' or 'Apply' button on this page. Alternatively, please complete an application form.

Level and demands

This course assumes no prior knowledge or expertise in the subject. Whilst any prior knowledge of existentialism or, more broadly, any aspect of philosophy is useful, it is not essential.

Most of the Department's weekly classes have 10 or 20 CATS points assigned to them. 10 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of ten 2-hour sessions. 20 CATS points at FHEQ Level 4 usually consist of twenty 2-hour sessions. It is expected that, for every 2 hours of tuition you are given, you will engage in eight hours of private study.

Credit Accumulation and Transfer Scheme (CATS)