The University of Southampton

PHIL1021 Existentialism and its Origins

Module Overview

This module will introduce you to the different views of Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Heidegger concerning what it is to live in good/bad faith.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

How should I live my life and does it matter that I do so in good faith? What is it to live an authentic existence in light of the fact that that existence will at some point end? How is living authentically or in good faith related to being oneself, an individual, as opposed to being just one of the crowd? These are among the central questions that ‘existentialist’ thinkers try to answer. This module aims to introduce you to the different perspectives that some of the most prominent existentialists have on the issues these questions concern—Kierkegaard, Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Heidegger—and to give you the chance to reflect on these issues in light of their work.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • of some of the central themes in the work of existentialist thinkers such as Kierkegaard, Nietzsche and Heidegger.
  • of what it means to live in good or bad faith, to lead an authentic existence, and to be an individual.
  • of how the different perspectives provided by the existentialists relate to each other.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • undertake, with adequate supervision, independent work, including identifying and using appropriate resources.
  • work effectively to deadlines.
  • contribute to group discussion of controversial issues in a dispassionate fashion
  • take notes from talks and written materials.
  • present ideas clearly and concisely in writing.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • interpret complex texts and positions.
  • critically evaluate the ideas and arguments the existentialists advance.
  • compare and contrast different views on the issues the module concern.
  • present and debate ideas, both orally and in writing, in an open minded and rigorous way.


good and bad faith - authenticity - anxiety and death - individuality - becoming or overcoming who you are - fate - the death of God

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

2x weekly lectures - 1x weekly seminar in small groups - Independent study

Independent Study117
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

T Flynn (2006). Existentialism: A Very Short Introduction. 




MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1000 words) 33.3%
Essay  (1000 words) 33.3%
Essay  (1000 words) 33.3%


MethodPercentage contribution
Examination  (120 minutes) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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