Course Number: PHL 211
Transcript Title: Existentialism
Created: September 1, 2012
Updated: February 23, 2016
Total Credits: 4
Lecture Hours: 40
Lecture / Lab Hours: 0
Lab Hours: 0
Satisfies Cultural Literacy requirement: No
Satisfies General Education requirement: Yes
Grading options: A-F (default), P-NP, audit
Repeats available for credit: 0


MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121.

Course Description

This course will investigate existential philosophy from the 19th Century to the present.  Students will become familiar with the different branches of existentialist thought and the influence existentialism had on philosophy, literature, and culture in the 19th and 20th Centuries.  Philosophers who will be studied include, but are not limited to, some of the following: Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Camus and Sartre. Prerequisites: MTH 20 or equivalent placement test scores. Prerequisite/concurrent: WR 121. Audit available.

Intended Outcomes

Students completing this course should be able to:

  1. Recognize and reflect on Existential philosophers' contributions to contemporary intellectual history in order to effectively communicate with others concerning one’s life goals and meaning.
  2. Recognize and reflect on one’s own place in existence and society using the frameworks developed by important Existentialist philosophers in order to define one’s responsibilities within a community.
  3. Critically read and think about modern existential ideas in order to analyze existential arguments and discussions.

Alignment with Institutional Core Learning Outcomes

1. Communicate effectively using appropriate reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. (Communication)
2. Creatively solve problems by using relevant methods of research, personal reflection, reasoning, and evaluation of information. (Critical thinking and Problem-Solving)
3. Apply the knowledge, skills and abilities to enter and succeed in a defined profession or advanced academic program. (Professional Competence)
4. Appreciate cultural diversity and constructively address issues that arise out of cultural differences in the workplace and community. (Cultural Awareness)
5. Recognize the consequences of human activity upon our social and natural world. (Community and Environmental Responsibility)

Outcome Assessment Strategies

Assessment strategies will include some of the following:

  • Essays in the form of in-class exams, short papers, and term papers
  • Short-answer exams
  • Student presentations
  • Class and small group discussions
  • Reading Journals
  • Participation

Course Content (Themes, Concepts, Issues and Skills)

The course content will include some of the following themes:

  • Existential Anxiety
  • Existential Faith
  • Subjectivity
  • Nihilism
  • Existential Affirmation
  • Being and Time
  • Being and Nothingness
  • Existential Freedom and Responsibility