EU437      Half Unit
Europe Beyond Modernity

This information is for the 2023/24 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 Fudan) , MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po) and MSc in Social Anthropology (Religion in the Contemporary World). This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

This course has a limited number of places (it is controlled access). In previous years we have been able to provide places for all students that apply but that may not continue to be the case.

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.

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


This course is delivered through a combination of lectures and seminars totalling a minimum of 25 hours across Winter Term.  This course includes a reading week in Week 6 of Winter Term, and a review session will be held at the start of the Spring 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.

Key facts

Department: European Institute

Total students 2022/23: 7

Average class size 2022/23: 11

Controlled access 2022/23: Yes

Lecture capture used 2022/23: Yes (LT)

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

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.

Personal development skills

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