Not available in 2015/16
EU437      Half Unit
Europe Beyond Modernity

This information is for the 2015/16 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Simon Glendinning COW 1.07


This course is available on the MSc in EU Politics, MSc in EU Politics, MSc in EU Politics (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities, MSc in European Studies: Ideas, Ideologies and Identities (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations, MSc in International Relations (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Religion in the Contemporary World. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

This course engages with the deepest roots and fundamental trajectory of the contemporary European world as identified by three major thinkers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries: Nietzsche, Heidegger and Derrida. Taking up and problematising the claim made by Emmanuel Levinas that "Europe is the Bible and the Greeks", the course explores the idea that Europe today is a cultural and political movement in deconstruction, a movement beyond its own modernity which might be summarised by Nietzsche's madman's pronouncement of the death of God. As Derrida, a leading theorist of this conception puts it, "one should, more prudently, say "Greek, Christian and beyond" to conceive the formation of the contemporary European heritage. This suggestion not only makes it possible to acknowledge many other important cultural sources in this heritage (Judaic and Islamic at the very least) but also, and above all, directs us towards what, in Nietzsche's wake, can be identified as "the passage beyond" - the movement in which the European tradition "tends of itself to break with itself". There is no suggestion that the heritage and future of Europe are disconnected in this "passage beyond", and none of the authors explored in this course seek to reject the European heritage or want simply to destroy it. On the contrary, and always in its name, the attempt is made in their writings to effect a renewal of the European world which could propel it in a new direction beyond Enlightenment modernity. The key themes in this renewal will be explored in relation to a certain "beyond modernity" becoming visible in philosophy, politics, technology and religion.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT. 1 hour and 30 minutes of seminars in the ST.

Students on this course will have a reading week in Week 6, in line with departmental policy. 

Formative coursework

Two 2,000 word essays; seminar presentation.

Indicative reading

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil; Martin Heidegger, The Question Concerning Technology; Jacques Derrida, "Faith and Knowledge" in Religion (eds Derrida and Vattimo); Robert Pippin, Modernism as a Philosophical Problem.


Exam (100%, duration: 2 hours) in the main exam period.

Student performance results

(2011/12 - 2013/14 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 33.3
Merit 57.6
Pass 9.1
Fail 0

Teachers' comment

Although this course focuses on carefully selected philosophical texts there is no expectation that students taking the course will have a background in philosophy.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2014/15: 26

Average class size 2014/15: 14

Controlled access 2014/15: No

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Communication