This course has concessions available

New: Foucault

In one of the ironies of intellectual history, Foucault has become an institution. Many courses in the humanities, social sciences and the arts (and beyond) will often touch on his work. However, these considerations are often fleeting, episodic and lacking an appreciation of the context of his writings or the questions as to the continuities and discontinuities or flat inconsistencies of his work as a whole. This course will provide an opportunity to explore this important and influential figure in depth, ranging from his early to his late work and assessing their significance for a range of topics in the philosophy of knowledge, history, politics and ethics.

Available Classes:

Who is this course for

This course is at Upper Intermediate level and so would not be suitable for people who are new to studying philosophy. It would be an ideal continuation course for students who have previously studied on our Intermediate level courses and who now want a course that will look at the work of a particular philosopher in some depth. It may also be suitable for people who have had some previous grounding in Philosophy and who now want to study in more depth.

Although you should have some previous experience of studying philosophy it is not expected that you need to have a great deal of familiarity with the work of Foucault in particular, as this is what the course will aim to provide.

What does this course cover

We will aim to provide to an overview of Foucault's career as a whole, form his earlier more 'Sructuralist' texts throught to the Middle and later periods of the 'Genealogical' texts such as Discipline and Punish and the various volumes of the History of Sexuality and some the lectures from the College De France. At each stage we will examine how Foucault's work should be interpreted and looking to place his contributions in the context of the debates of the time. We will also look to independently assess the coherence of the positions that seem to emerge from his work and assess its significance for contemporary debates in philosophy, social theory and politics.

By the end of the course, you should be able to:

Identify and explain a range of key concepts in Foucault's work (e.g., the notion of an historical episteme or discursive formation, power/knowledge, micropolitics, technologies of the self).
Assess evidence of continuities and discontinuities in Foucault's career (e.g. with respect to the influence of Structuralism or the return to the theme of the self in the later work).
Critically assess key themes of Focault's work and assess its continued relevance to contemporary debates

What will it be like

The course is an interactive mixture of tutor exposition, class discussion and group/pair work. Videos and clips will be used to supplement some of these class based activities. There are opportunities for further discussion and reading outside of the class via the course's Moodle website.

We will assess your expectations of the course in the first sessions. Thereafter, you will be able to monitor your progress on the course through participation in class discussion, questions and answers and in-class exercises. At the end of the course, you will be able to measure your progress against the stated outcomes for the course.

What else do you need to buy or do

The course will be run via the zoom platform, please make sure you have installed it in advance of your first class on your computer or mobile device. You can sign up for free here:

You will need a microphone (it's fine to use whatever is built into your device) and camera, so we can see you via video. You may also want to use headphones during the session.
Make sure you have a small space to work in during the session.
If you have a device, find a way to prop it up so you can work and we can see your face.
By signing up to the course you are consenting to being on camera. The content of the lesson may be recorder by the tutor for internal education and training purposes.

We will be covering material from throughout Foucault's career so there is no one single text which you will need to purchase. Handouts for each session will be provided and additional material will be available through the Moodle page for the course. You may find it useful to bring writing materials with you to make notes during sessions but no additional resources are essential.

What this course could lead to

Other Intermediate and Advanced level Philosophy courses at the Mary Ward Centre or other similar establishments. Other courses in the Humanities and Social Sciences with a strong emphasis on theory and the study of the mind and human behaviour(e.g., Psychology, Economics, Sociology, Anthropology, History).

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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

Got a Question about this Course?

Contact The Departmental Administrator.

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.’