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About us

Ethics of Powerlessness

Ethics of Powerlessness

The Ethics of Powerlessness project aims to clarify ethical challenges of experiences of powerlessness, especially in palliative and end-of-life care situations, and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Philosophy at Essex was founded in 1974 by Professor Frank Cioffi and from the start, has been committed to fostering a wide variety of philosophical approaches and to developing links between philosophy and other disciplines.


Our courses offer a unique combination of European continental and Anglo-American analytic philosophy, and attract a large and diverse student body from the UK and abroad. We are internationally recognised as a leading centre for postgraduate study and many of our former PhD students hold academic posts around the world.


In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) in 2014, we were ranked in the top ten philosophy departments in the UK and a leading centre for continental philosophy. We were ranked fifth for research outputs. 85 percent of our research activity rated either as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent'.

Our academic staff have interests in a wide range of philosophical areas and are the authors of numerous major publications . We are particularly known for our expertise in critical theory, phenomenology and medical humanities as well as classical German philosophy.

In the last decade, our School has attracted substantial research funding. Between 2005 and 2008, we were home to the Transcendental Philosophy and Naturalism research project, funded with over £330,000 by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and headed by the late Professor Mark Sacks. Since 2010, we have been home to the Essex Autonomy Project, which is funded by the AHRC and other funding bodies, and has attracted in excess of £1m and is led by Professor Wayne Martin and Dr Fabian Freyenhagen.

2015 sees the beginning of a new three-year research project funded by the AHRC called The Ethics of Powerlessness: the Theological Virtues Today, which aims to clarify ethical challenges arising from experiences of powerlessness, particularly in palliatvive and end-of-life care situations. The project is being carried out by Professor Béatrice Han-Pile, Dr Daniel Watts and Dr David Batho

Seminars, events and discussion groups

Throughout the year, we run an exciting programme of events, including philosophy seminars, minicourses and conferences with speakers invited from across the UK and abroad, as well as from our School.

We host our annual international graduate conference, organised by postgraduates, who also run their own regular seminars and reading groups. We also have an active Philosophy Society run by our undergraduates.

Artworks on our website

We would like to thank Essex Collection of Art from Latin American Art (ESCALA) for permission to reproduce the following artworks from their collection on our website:

Postgraduate study

Postgraduate study

We are internationally recognised as a leading centre of postgraduate study in philosophy, both at Masters and PhD level.

PhD study

Postgraduate research study

By undertaking PhD study at Essex, you will become a member of an exciting and active research community, and benefit from the expert supervision of our internationally recognised staff.

Watch our videos

Philosophy videos

Find out more about studying philosophy at Essex and our academics' research by visiting our video gallery.

Our academic staff

Wayne Martin

Our academic staff are internationally recognised for their expertise across a wide range of philosophical areas.