French MA

Modern French Thought FRENCH4012

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Modern Languages and Cultures
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Runs Throughout Semesters 1 and 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

This course provides an introduction to some of the major trends in twentieth century French thought (i.e. phenomenology, existential thought, post-structuralism and deconstruction), by focusing on short, key writings by seven authors: Léon Chestov, Benjamin Fondane, Albert Camus, Michel Foucault, Maurice Blanchot, Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Derrida. The first part of the course is devoted to the notion of the absurd, in relation to myth and tragedy, and contrasts two strands of existential thought: Chestov and Fondane, on the one hand, and Camus on the other. The second half of the course will consider the evolution of the postmodern conception of the 'outside' and of 'nomad thought' in the works of Foucault, Deleuze and Derrida.


20 x 1-hour sessions over both semester as scheduled on MyCampus.

Excluded Courses





Book review (1000 words) - 30%

Essay (2000 words) - 50%

Presentation (10 minutes) - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course aims to:

■ introduce students to major trends in twentieth century French thought (i.e. phenomenology, existential thought, post-structuralism and deconstruction) and the evolution of philosophical responses to prevailing concerns with the meaning of life, death, the absurd, the 'outside', truth, presence, virtual reality, certainty and undecidability, spectrality;

■ develop students' understanding of interdisciplinary approaches to the material;

■ develop transferable skills through interactive teaching;

■ nurture the ability to ask independent questions and to experiment with original responses.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ identify and evaluate key aspects of Modern French Thought in relation to the studied texts;

■ apply an appropriate range of critical terminology and concepts with relevance and discrimination in written analyses and class discussion;

■ engage in interdisciplinary study relating to philosophy, religion, and literature as appropriate;

■ communicate effectively and apply critical and transferable skills in the close reading and presentation of the set texts.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.