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History of Modern Philosophy


Admission requirements

No prerequisites.


Introduction to key figures, problems and themes in modern European philosophy from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century. The course starts with sketching the broader context of cultural modernity, and the demands for stability and orientation that emerged as traditional worldviews fell apart. This is followed by a series of lectures on six specific themes taught by different experts in the field: knowledge, physics and metaphysics, mind and soul, ethics, political philosophy and theology. The lectures explain how the modern concept of reason developed in these different fields, discussing key ideas from thinkers such as Bacon, Galileo, Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Pascal, Locke, Berkeley, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, Kant and Hegel. A textbook will be used for introducing the various themes, supplemented by selected readings from primary sources.

Course objectives

This course aims to introduce students to key figures, problems and themes in modern European philosophy from the sixteenth to the early nineteenth century.

Students who successfully complete the course will have basic understanding of:

  • the concept of modernity in the history of European philosophy;

  • central problems, themes and concepts in modern European philosophy, in particular in the fields of epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, moral philosophy and political philosophy;

  • how these problems are addressed in a number of key texts;

  • the relations between these problems and the historical conditions to which they respond, including the development of scientific disciplines and methodologies.

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • read primary texts with the confidence needed to analyse, reconstruct and evaluate key arguments in them;

  • contextualize and comment upon primary texts in modern European philosophy;

  • give clear and structured written answers to questions about central problems, themes and concepts in modern European philosophy.


See: BA Filosofie

  • Filosofie, BA1 – BA Plus-traject

  • Filosofie, BA1 – Standaardtraject

Mode of instruction

  • Lectures

Course Load

Total course load 5 EC x 28 hours =140 hours

  • Attending lectures: 13 x 3 hours = 39 hours

  • Midterm sitting exam: 3 hours

  • Final sitting exam: 3 hours

  • Textbook readings (214 pp): 43 hours

  • Primary sources (120 pp): 30 hours

  • Preparation midterm exam: 10 hours

  • Preparation final exam: 22 hours

Assessment method


  • Mid-term sitting exam (50%)

  • Final sitting exam with closed and open questions (50%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of two subtests (midterm, final test). A subtest can be graded as unsatisfactory.


The resit consists of one examination for all parts at once, consisting of sitting exam covering the entire course content. The mark for the resit will replace all previously earned marks for subtests.No separate resits will be offered for mid-term tests.

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 of readings

Reading list

  • Kenny, A. The Rise of Modern Philosophy, OUP: 2008.


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

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


Dr. R. Uljée


Not applicable.