Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Seminars / Tutorials 10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)
Lecture 10 Hours. (10 x 1 hour)


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment Essay: 1,500 words  20%
Semester Assessment Seminar Performance  10%
Semester Assessment Extended Written Assignment: 1 x 4,500 words  70%
Supplementary Exam Resit opportunities for this module will be available in the Supplementary examination period. F resit: The student will re-sit the module by examination only for a 'capped' pass mark (40). H resit: The student will submit missing coursework elements and/or re-sit by examination in the Supplementary exam period in lieu of a missed/failed exam for full marks. Students re-sitting elements of failed coursework are required to select a different essay/assignment title and must not submit re-written versions of the original essay/assignment.  

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

- demonstrate a good understanding of approaches described as poststructural
- discuss some of the ethico-political questions raised by this work
- demonstrate a familiarity with key poststructuralist writers, based on a direct reading of their texts.

Brief description

Research inspired by post-structuralist approaches forms a challenging contribution to recent international relations, political theory and postcolonialism. There are two linked modules that explore this field. This first module, which is introductory, looks at the writings of thinkers associated with the move. There are no prerequisites, apart from a willingness to read in depth and engage with the material.


The module begins with a brief examination of Nietzsche and Althusser and then focuses on five poststructuralist thinkers¿Foucault, Derrida, Agamben, Deleuze and Esposito. The course is divided into three sections. The first section is introductory and engages the theme of subjectivity in modern philosophy. It also examines the decisive steps taken by Nietzsche and Althusser in announcing poststructuralist work in philosophy and politics. The second section develops the poststructuralist critique of the conception of politics framed by the practice of sovereignty in the work of Foucault, Agamben and Esposito. The third section explores alternative notions of subject and politics in the work of Agamben, Derrida, Foucault and Deleuze. Lectures introducing key areas are accompanied by seminars based on careful readings of selected texts supported by extensive discussions. The lectures include opportunities for questions and debate. Seminars will be student-led.

Section A: Beyond humanism and historicism
1. Subjectivity in Modern Philosophy
2. Beyond Humanism: Althusser¿s Materialism of the Encounter
3. Beyond Historicism: Nietzsche, Genealogy and the Will to Power

Section B: Poststructural critiques of sovereign politics
4. Biopolitics, Governmentality, Sovereignty: Foucault I
5. Bare life, Sovereignty, Law: Agamben I
6. Community, Immunity, Life: Esposito

Section C: Alternative Notions of Subject and Politics
7. Jamming the Anthropological Machine: Agamben II
8. The Animal, the Human and the Problem of the Other: Derrida
9. Multiplicity and the Body without Organs: Deleuze
10. Ethics, Norms and the Outside: Foucault II


This module allows students to develop a critical appreciation and understanding of poststructural work through a reading of primary writings. They will then be well placed to go on if they wish to study scholars of international politics or other disciplines who draw on this work. The module concentrates on giving a flavour of these approaches, rather than examining the debates between postmodernism and its critics.

Transferable skills

This module deals with material that is intellectually demanding and will help students develop keen analytical abilities, patience and perseverance. During the seminars they will have the opportunity to learn how to facilitate group discussions, to practice their skills in explaining and discussing their own ideas, and to select material suitable for inclusion in discussion.

The final written assignment demands individual initiative in researching a topic, finding material and producing a coherent written piece of some length.

10 ECTS credits

Reading List

General Text
Caroline Williams (2001) Contemporary French philosophy: modernity and the persistence of the subject. London: Athlone Press Primo search Edkins, Jenny. (1999.) Poststructuralism and international relations :bringing the political back in /Jenny Edkins. Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6