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The Question of Europe


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Ethics and Politics

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation History and Philosophy of the Sciences

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Law

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy of Political Science

Introductory courses in Ethics and Political Philosophy will be required.


Events as Brexit, the refugee crisis, and rising nationalism make the problematic of European community an urgent one. These events raise the question who is to be included within this community, who must remain outside, and based on what reasons? This problem calls for a sustained philosophical engagement, because the relationship between philosophy and Europe is intricate, profound and complex. Firstly, unlike other socio-political geographical entities, Europe has always defined itself from the perspective of the constitutive specificity of its philosophical principles: the freedom of the Ancient Greek cities as opposed to the supposedly despotic Asian regimes is a fitting example. In turn, for many philosophers throughout history, the idea of Europe has at all times touched on the very essence of philosophy. This is shown in the works of many philosophers throughout the history of philosophy, including in those of Hegel, Husserl, Patočka, Derrida, Agamben and Nancy. Although very different in inspiration and content, their works share an interpretation of Europe as a philosophical identity, concept, ideal and project. During this course, we will investigate the texts by these authors in order to gain an understanding what ‘Europe’ might mean philosophically, and what philosophy might have to offer to the current challenges that are facing Europe.

Course objectives

This course aims to investigate the ideas on Europe as a philosophical concept by drawing on the texts of its main thinkers. Students are expected to be able to compare, contrast and critically discuss the main arguments both written and orally. They are also expected to demonstrate the ability to use close readings to critically interpret the assigned texts and to place these texts in a broader philosophical context, going beyond the assigned readings where necessary.

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

  • the key ideas on Europe as developed by Hegel, Husserl, Patocka, Derrida and Agamben, and what these ideas are a response to;

  • the question of Europe in the history of philosophy.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • give a critical discussion of the ideas presented during this course;

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

  • present their ideas both orally and in writing;

  • place the standpoints of the authors that have been studied in a broader philosophical context;

  • find, analyse and discuss relevant literature beyond the prescribed texts.


The timetable is available on the MA Philosophy 60 EC website
and the MA Philosophy 120 EC website

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Course Load

Total course load 10 EC x 28 hours = 280 hours

  • Attending lectures: 13 x 3 hours = 39 hours

  • Preparation seminars: 105 hours

  • Study of compulsory literature: 100 hours

  • Writing paper: 36 hours

Assessment method


  • Research paper (85 %)

  • Oral presentation (15 %)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests. A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.
Class attendance is required – without sufficient attendance students will be excluded from submitting a final paper.


The resit will consist of a research paper. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests.
Class participation and completion of practical assignments such as the oral presentation is a mandatory requirement for taking the resit. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examination 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 literature

  • communication

Reading list

  • Literature will be made available via Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

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.W. Zantvoort


Not applicable.