PHIL40420 The Good Society

Academic Year 2022/2023

Our specific topic is "Human Agency in the Anthropocene".
Ecological catastrophe has happened and continues apace. Many disastrous processes are irreversible, much has been irretrievably lost. ‘The Anthropocene’ has gained currency as a way of describing this unprecedented moment in the history of our species: Human activity, amplified by the rapid development of capitalist industrialization and the unchecked pursuit of affluence, has unleashed uncontrollable natural forces that leave modern humans as vulnerable to the devastating power of nature as their earliest ancestors.
In this module we will consider the implications of The Anthropocene for individual and collective agency. Within democracies in the Global North, the Enlightenment promise of freedom faces an uncertain future amidst the growing push for autocratic and/or technocratic climate ‘solutions.’ Within the Global South, the urgent need for de-carbonisation has compounded the challenges of decolonisation: for example, fossil fuel technologies helped end of the global slave trade and facilitate postcolonial independence. Our readings in this class are drawn from a wide range of sources, encompassing early philosophical critiques of technology to the latest debates in social theory and climate science.

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Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

At the end of the module participants will be expected to have developed a nuanced, critical understanding of the challenges posed by anthropogenic climate change. Participants will formulate their views through reflective engagement with the relevant academic literature. Through participation in the seminars, students will have gained experience in high-level discussion of complex theoretical texts. They will also have gained experience in developing independent research proposals and in assessing the presentations of their peers.

Indicative Module Content:

As detailed in module description

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours
Seminar (or Webinar)


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Not applicable to this module.
Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade
Essay: 3,500 word essay Coursework (End of Trimester) n/a Graded No


Presentation: 1-2 Presentations, format to be specified Throughout the Trimester n/a Graded No


Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, post-assessment

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

To be decided.

Name Role
Mr John McGuire Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Timetabling information is displayed only for guidance purposes, relates to the current Academic Year only and is subject to change.
Seminar Offering 1 Week(s) - 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33 Tues 11:00 - 12:50