EU437      Half Unit
Europe Beyond Modernity

This information is for the 2021/22 session.

Teacher responsible

Prof Simon Glendinning CBG 7.01


This course is available on the CEMS Exchange, MBA Exchange, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe, MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe (LSE & Sciences Po), MSc in International Relations (Research), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World) and MSc in The Global Political Economy of China and Europe (LSE and Fudan). 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 modern self-understanding 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 "beyond modernity" condition becoming visible in philosophy, politics, technology and religion.


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Lent Term. The teaching will be delivered this year through a combination of online and on-campus formats (or if required, online only). This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Lent Term, and a review session will be held at the start of the Summer Term to prepare for the online assessment.

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.


Online assessment (100%) in the ST.

The online assessment for this course will be administered via Moodle.  Questions will be made available at a set date/time and students will be given a set period in the ST to complete the answers to questions and upload their responses back into Moodle.

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

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.

Important information in response to COVID-19

Please note that during 2021/22 academic year some variation to teaching and learning activities may be required to respond to changes in public health advice and/or to account for the differing needs of students in attendance on campus and those who might be studying online. For example, this may involve changes to the mode of teaching delivery and/or the format or weighting of assessments. Changes will only be made if required and students will be notified about any changes to teaching or assessment plans at the earliest opportunity.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2020/21: 21

Average class size 2020/21: 11

Controlled access 2020/21: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Personal development skills

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