European Literature and Philosophy

This information is for the 2016/17 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Olga Sobolev TW3 6.01A and Dr Angus Wrenn TW3 6.01A


This course is available on the BSc in Philosophy and Economics, BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method, BSc in Philosophy, Politics and Economics and BSc in Politics and Philosophy. This course is available as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit and to General Course students.

Available as an outside option to all undergraduate and General Course students. Students can take this course in any year of their studies following approval from the teacher responsible and subject to their own programme regulations.


Although an A-level pass or equivalent in Literature is useful, it is not an absolute requirement (especially for General Course students).

Course content

(a) Literary treatment of the major philosophical trends of the twentieth century, including the aesthetics of Bergson and Nietzsche, the analytical school of Russell; political philosophy of Isaiah Berlin, the existentialism of Heidegger and Sartre, the paradox of the absurd of Camus, French and East European Phenomenology; Wittgenstein and philosophy of language (b) Related trips to galleries and theatre productions during the year; (c) Use of archive recordings of authors, and video; (d) Students encouraged to draw upon background in their main discipline, and to read widely.


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT. 1 hour of classes in the ST.

Structured activities during the reading week

Formative coursework

Two essays per year, presentations.

Indicative reading

Dostoevsky Crime and Punishment & Notes from the Underground; Kafka Metamorphosis & The Trial; Nabokov Despair & Lolita, Celan Todesfuge and other poems; St-Exupery The Little Prince; Solzhenitzyn One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich; Camus L'Etranger & The Myth of Sisyphus; Kundera The Unbearable Lightness of BeingFrayn CopenhagenStoppard Dogg's Hamlet Cahoot's Macbeth


Exam (75%, duration: 3 hours) in the main exam period.
Essay (25%, 2500 words) in the LT.

Student performance results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

Classification % of students
First 29.1
2:1 61.8
2:2 3.6
Third 0
Fail 5.5

Key facts

Department: Language Studies

Total students 2015/16: 24

Average class size 2015/16: 8

Capped 2015/16: Yes (25)

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

PDAM skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Specialist skills

Course survey results

(2013/14 - 2015/16 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 75%



Reading list (Q2.1)


Materials (Q2.3)


Course satisfied (Q2.4)


Lectures (Q2.5)


Integration (Q2.6)


Contact (Q2.7)


Feedback (Q2.8)


Recommend (Q2.9)