Module Details

PY951-7-AU-CO: Ma Writing Workshop

Year: 2017/18
Department: Philosophy
Essex credit: 0
ECTS credit: 0
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: Yes
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No
Comments: This is an MA level module for students on the MA Philosophy and MA Philosophy Pathways and Integrated PhD only. Admissions to this module beyond this group of students requires permission from the Course Instructor.

Supervisor: Professor Beatrice Han-Pile
Teaching Staff: Professor Beatrice Han-Pile
Contact details: Initial contact is Wendy Williams, Graduate Administrator (School of Philosophy & Art History), email, tel 01206 872705.

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Module Outline (updated March 2017)

THE MA WRITING WORKSHOP provides intensive training in postgraduate-level writing. The Workshop is primarily designed for MA philosophy students. First-year PhD students can request permission from the Course Instructor to attend the class. Participants write a short essay every week based on a reading assignment. We meet weekly in a common session to work both on the philosophical issues and on the micro-skills of writing. In addition, participants meet with their writing tutor in weekly tutorial sessions to get feedback on their submissions. Each year a different topic is chosen for the workshop.

In 2017 the topic will be: The nature and value of hope.

Hope features prominently in contemporary political discourse and has been the focus of a number of recent philosophical publications. But what is hope exactly? According to what is often called the 'orthodox definition', I hope for P if and only if I desire that P, and assign to P a probability assignment comprised between (and excluding) 0 and 1. Does this capture the phenomenon of hope adequately? Is hope a single genus that has many species, or is there a difference in kind between ordinary hopes and 'hope against hope', or 'radical hope'? Further, what is the value of hope for the conduct of our lives? Aristotle deemed it good only for 'drunkards and young men', and Seneca advised Lucilius to give up hope so as not to fear. By contrast, Thomas Aquinas held it in high esteem, as one of the three 'theological virtues' without which salvation is not possible (the other two such virtues being faith and love). Who has the right of it (if anyone)? And if hope can be construed as a virtue, how does it differ from the so called 'cardinal' virtues of the Ancients (justice, prudence, courage and temperance)? What is the agency involved in hope? We shall draw from a number of philosophical sources, and from the debate on the nature of epistemic virtues, to seek answers to these questions.

Learning and Teaching Methods

1 x 2 hour seminar per week + 4 hrs of tutorials for 8 weeks


100 per cent Coursework Mark


Over the course of the first six teaching weeks of the Autumn Term (Weeks 2-7), students will submit five essays (one each in Weeks 3,4,5,6 & 7). 1,500-2,000 words each essay. They will be given the possibility of submitting one optional essay after Reading Week.

Other information

Weighting = 100% coursework


  • There is no fixed bibliography for the MA Writing Workshop. The instructor shall make weekly reading assignments each week through week 7. Some of the readings in 2016 may include J. Lear's Radical Hope and sections of A. Martin's How we Hope: A Moral Psychology as well as a number of selected excerpts and articles on hope.

Further information