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Critical Theory


Admission requirements

  • Students in the BA programme Philosophy: first year BA has been successfully completed.

  • Prerequisites for students from other departments (including contractstudenten): first year BA has been successfully completed as well as the following courses in philosophy: Ethics, History of Modern Philosophy.

This course has a limited number of places available for students from other departments.


This course will seek to examine the development and transformation of Critical Theory from Horkheimer and Adorno to Habermas, Fraser and Butler. The core question of this course concerns the very idea of a critical theory of society. What are the essential and distinguishing aspects of this mode of theorizing? And what, if any, is its significance at present? We will investigate the aims of critical social theory and the methods appropriate to it and the key concepts that are employed (such as alienation, reification and emancipation) will be discussed and interrogated. An essential element to our investigation will be to consider and contrast the different approaches adopted by the early Frankfurter Schule and subsequent Critical Theorists.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a good understanding of:

  • the key texts in Critical Therory and the relations between them.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • give a critical discussion of the ideas as developed by Critical Theorists over time;

  • formulate a reasoned argumentation of their position in the topics covered in this course;

  • present their ideas both orally and in writing.


See Collegeroosters Wijsbegeerte 2014-2015, BA Wijsbegeerte (BA Plus-traject or Standaardtraject), derde jaar.
See Timetables Philosophy 2014-2015 , Timetable Undergraduate Courses in English

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures and seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load (10 ECTS credits): 280 hours.

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 42 hours.

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 80 hours.

  • Time for preparation of presentation: 22 hours.

  • Time to write a paper (including reading / research): 136 hours.

Assessment method

  • Presentation (20% if the final grade)

  • Final research paper (80% of the final grade)

One resit will be offered, consisting of the final paper. Any student who did not take the first examination cannot take the resit.


Blackboard will be used for announcements and course information.

Reading list

Please purchase:

  • M. Horkheimer and T.W. Adorno, Dialektik der Aufklärung (or a translation: Dialectics of Enlightenment).

In addition, texts will be posted on Blackboard.
There is no requirement to study literature before the start of the course.


Please register for this course on uSis.
See Inschrijven voor cursussen en tentamens
See Registration for courses and examinations

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the collegerooster in the column under the heading “”.

Exchange students and Study Abroad students, please see the Study in Leiden website for information on how to apply.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Contractonderwijs
Registration Studeren à la carte: not applicable


Dr. Rozemund Uljée