Phenomenology and Existentialism

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Monday 15 January 2024
Friday 22 March 2024
20 October 2023


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module focuses on works of the phenomenological movement, both as a historical tradition (Brentano, Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Levinas, Lögstrup, etc.) and as an ongoing area of philosophical and multi-disciplinary research.

The specific focus varies from year to year.  In some years the focus may be a major text from the tradition (e.g., Being and Time, The Phenomenology of Perception; Being and Nothingness); in other instances the focus may be thematic (intentionality, temporality, alterity, death …), drawing on works from a variety of sources.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To gain familiarity with major themes, methods, figures and texts from the phenomenological movement.

  • To develop mastery of key concepts from phenomenological philosophy, including intentionality, psychologism, noema; protention; retention; ecstatic temporality; enpresenting.

  • To understand phenomenology both as a historical tradition and as an ongoing multi-disciplinary project.

  • To present research orally to the seminar group and fielding questions.

  • To write a well-researched paper on an issue covered in the module.

Module learning outcomes

Skills for your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)

By the end of this module, students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

  1. Define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;

  2. Seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;

  3. Process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;

  4. Compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;

  5. Write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;

  6. Be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;

  7. Think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;

  8. Maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;

  9. Think critically and constructively.

Module information

In Academic Year 2023-2024, this module will combine an advanced introduction to the phenomenological tradition (with particular focus on Husserl’s contributions in inaugurating the movement), followed by an intensive study of the phenomenology of time and space.  

The first few weeks will focus on what Husserl himself described as his “breakthrough to phenomenology.” We study the phenomenon of intentionality, consider Husserl’s case against ‘psychologism,’ and his introduction of the method of noetic-noematic analysis. In this segment of the module we will draw on selected excerpts from the writings of Brentano and Husserl.

The middle section of the module will then consist in a close study of Husserl’s Phenomenology of Internal Time-Consciousness (a work which draws heavily on Brentano and was prepared for publication by Heidegger), followed by an examination Heidegger’s account of existential temporality and existential spatiality.

The final weeks of the module will consider recent empirical work that uses phenomenological methods to shed light on pathological disturbances of temporal and spatial experience.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered via:

  • One 1-hour lecture per week.
  • One 1-hour seminar per week.

Week 21 is a Reading Week.


The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course.
The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students.
Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting

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
Prof Irene McMullin, email:
Dr Irene McMullin
PHAIS Postgraduate Queries:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 18 hours, 18 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


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