Contemporary Critical Theory

The details
Philosophical, Historical, and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
03 April 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for

MA VL5212 Social and Political Thought

Module description

Critical theory is a strand of social and political thought loosely belonging to a Marxist-Hegelian tradition and associated with the Frankfurt School – a group of thinkers active from the early 1920s. The term ‘critical theory’, however, remains highly contested, and has in recent years been extended to encompass critical work belonging to feminist and anti-racist traditions, among others. This course understands ‘critical theory’ in a broad sense, aiming to clarify its nature and limits by looking outside the canon to a range of texts ideas from radical traditions such as critical race theory, feminism, queer theory and ‘child liberation’.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to key thinkers in contemporary critical theory.

  • To introduce students to historical and contemporary debates about the key concepts of that tradition.

  • To assess the extent to which the approaches developed by critical theorists can deliver convincing diagnoses of contemporary society.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Demonstrate good understanding of the central philosophical problems involved in constructing a critical theory of society.

  2. Explain the distinctive contributions that the Frankfurt school figures make to a critical theory of society.

  3. Reflect upon the role that the concept of recognition may have in articulating a critical theory of society.

  4. Articulate their own position regarding the value of the theories put forward by the thinkers studied.

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar per week.
  • One reading week with no seminars.

Discussion will be encouraged throughout.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Essay (4000 words)    100% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Lorna Finlayson, email:
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries:



External examiner

Dr Alexander Golob
King's College London
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 0 (0%) hours available to students:
18 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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