Wittgenstein module (PI41014)

On this page


Module code


  • Level 4
  • Semester 2
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • European Studies module choice.


Wittgenstein was one of the most influential twentieth-century philosophers. Both 'analytic' and 'continental' philosophy have been extensively and deeply influenced by him. He has also been widely influential beyond philosophy in literature, film and social science. This module will focus on Wittgenstein's two most influential works, The Tractatus, and the Philosophical Investigations, with some reference to his other texts. It will place Wittgenstein's philosophy in the context of contemporary European philosophy, with particular reference to such areas as phenomenology, ethics and/or philosophy of language. It will also give an overview of the impact of Wittgenstein beyond philosophy, for example, there will be a showing of Derek Jarman's film on Wittgenstein.

Key topics may include:

  • Language and Representation
  • Logical Atomism
  • The Picture Theory
  • Interpretations of the Tractatus
  • Language and the Purpose of Philosophy
  • Science, Metaphysics and Art
  • Ethics and the Tractatus
  • The Philosophical Investigationsand Criticism of the Tractatus
  • Family Resemblance and Language Games
  • The 'Private Language' Problem
  • Rule Following
  • The Reception of the Investigations
  • The Influences and Applications of the Investigations beyond Philosophy
  • The Relation between Wittgenstein's Thought and Recent European Philosophy


Dr Dominic Smith


Teaching and learning will be by lecture, seminar and tutorial and individual study.


This module is assessed as follows:

  • Textual commentary 30%
  • Essay 70%


Access the online reading list system


This module is available on following courses: