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Philosophy of Play


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Humanities

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Philosophical Anthropology and Philosophy of Culture


The course investigates the issues arising from a philosophical analysis of the experience of engaging in play with a special concern for the implications of human play for worldview-creation. It covers much fo the standard philosophical literature on play, including Heraclitus, Kant and Schiller, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Huizinga, Gadamer, Caillois, Winnicott, and Axelos. Key topics include rule-following, mutual understanding, play and seriousness and make-believe.

Course objectives

This course aims to provide the students with a detailed view of:

  • the history of the concept of ‘play’ in Western philosophy;

  • the current state of the debate around ‘play’;

  • the implications of the experience of play for epistemology, ethics, aesthetics and ontology.

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

  • the history of the debates surrounding play (including cognitive and non-cognitive approaches, psychological, phenomenological and ontological approaches;

  • the metaphysical importance of play;

  • the relations between the philosophical and psychological views of play.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically understand, comment and interconnect specialized texts and theories relative to play;

  • critically engage with some of the latest secondary literature on play;

  • present a consistent and comprehensive view of the current problems of the field and explore possible avenues of research.


See: MA Philosophy 60 EC
See: MA Philosophy 120 EC

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending seminars(13 weeks x 3 hrs): 39 hours

  • Study of literature: 80 hours

  • Preparation for seminars: 41 hours

  • Assignment: 40 hours

  • Presentation: 20 hours

  • Preparation assignments: 60 hours

Assessment method

  • Oral reading report on a primary text and abstract (30%)

  • Final paper on a question agreed in advance based on abstract submitted (65%)

  • Abstract for final paper (5%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit will consists of one examination for all parts at once and the mark will replace all previously earned marks for subtests. No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests. The resit will be a thoroughly demanding survey take-home exam covering the entirety of the course materials, and including a text commentary, a series of short questions and an argumentative essay. There may be an added short oral examination.

Students will only be eligible for the resit if they have submitted/presented all other practical assignments the term.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination(s) cannot take the resit.

Exam review

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • posting texts, general information documents (syllabus etc), assignments and updates.

Reading list

The texts and reading schedule will be provided on Blackboard before the start of term.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. F. Chouraqui


Not applicable.