This course has concessions available

Fear At Mary Ward

From rollercoasters at a fun fair, to adrenalin fuelled 'extreme' sports, to those who delight in scary stories and films, we seem to have a certain kind of fascination with fear. This course will aim to explore this topic from a number of different angles and in the process will provide an ideal introduction to three different subjects in the humanities and social sciences. With three different specialist tutors, you will be able to explore the different ways that anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers investigate this question. You will be introduced to the kinds of questions they raise, the different methods that they use and the way that they assess evidence and argument in doing so. At the same time, you will learn more about this perennially fascinating topic and hopefully have fun doing so.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

The course would make an ideal introduction for anyone considering taking courses in anthropology, psychology, philosophy or other humanities and social sciences. Equally, it would suit someone who already has familiarity with one or more of these subjects and finds the idea of cross disciplinary debate and discussion interesting. Or you may simply have an interest in the topic of fear and the frightening and want to find out more.

What does this course cover

We will explore the theme of fear from the perspective of anthropology, psychology and philosophy to give you an idea of the way these different subjects operate. So an anthropologist may be interested in the question of whether or not the category of 'fear' is something that exists in all cultures, or whether it is more culturally specific. Even if fear is a basic or universal human behaviour, anthropologists are still interested to learn the different ways in which it features in different societies and cultures. What are things that different cultures find frightening? What are the different ways in which people behave in relation to what they fear and what are the different ways of coping with fear in these cultures. An anthropologist will then often look to see what the answers to these questions can tell us about these different cultures more broadly.
A Psychologist may ask the following sorts of questions in exploring the subject of fear. What are the kinds of processes occurring in our brain and nervous system when we experience fear? Can these processes help to explain why we sometimes look to experience fear for fun? Are there any important differences between individuals that make them either more likely to be brave or to be excessively fearful? What can the study and treatment of different kinds of phobias tell us about the phenomenon of fear more generally?

By contrast with both of the above approaches, philosophy may wish to explore the way that the phenomenon of fear relates to the more general question of how we find life meaningful. Is fear always direct at things in the world that we find threatening, or are there some more fundamental cases when what we experience in fear is a relationship to our self - what if what we are most afraid of is our own freedom and responsibility for how we live our life? Or, conversely, if what anthropologists and psychologists tell us about how we are conditioned to experience fear is true, does this mean that we are not really free at all?
We cannot guarantee that there will be time and space to explore each of the above kinds of topics in depth, but by the end of the course, you should be able to:

' Identify examples of the kinds of questions and approaches to investigation taken by anthropologists, psychologists and philosophers respectively
' Compare and contrast these different approaches to the topic of fear and questions in the human and social sciences more generally

What will it be like

There will be three different teachers on the course (one from each of the subject disciplines). They will not be preparing a lecture for you but instead presenting you with material that you can explore through debate and discussion to develop and understanding of the topics covered. The day will be interactive and the different activities will be supplemented with short video or audio clips and resources that you can take away with you to consider the subject in your own time.

What else do you need to buy or do

No other materials are required except perhaps some pen and paper for taking notes and an open mind and eagerness to explore different ideas alongside other people.

What this course could lead to

The course is being run as part of the Mary Ward summer school programme and we would hope it may encourage people to enrol for the September courses in Anthropology, Psychology or Philosophy (or even all three!). But the course may lead you to want to explore other subject areas in the humanities and social sciences.

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I've been to many Centres to study in London and the Mary Ward Centre is one of the nicest I've studied in.

MWC student


This course has concessions available for people who meet certain criteria

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Why come to Mary Ward Centre?

Mary Ward Centre is the adult education centre with a difference. We provide a wide range of subjects for people at all levels and run courses during the day, evening or weekend to suit your timetable.

Get inspired and enjoy excellent teaching in an environment where each individual’s learning experience is valued. That’s what makes Mary Ward Centre ‘the friendly place to learn.’