Philosophy at Dundee is strongly research orientated. Our staff are all very active in research and we are committed to promoting a first class research culture dedicated to producing research of the highest quality in a supportive and stimulating environment. We can provide expert supervision in a wide range of areas if you are considering studying for a PhD. We are also keen to support interdisciplinary work, particularly in Philosophy and the Arts. Joint supervision can be arranged for such projects involving other areas of the University.
Our students benefit from our School being a member of the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities (SGSAH) who support world-leading doctoral training in the arts and humanities across Scotland.
We have an expanding, active postgraduate community - take a look at the list of our current doctoral students and their research topics.
- PhD (Doctorate) by Supervised Research
This is a three year degree full-time or five years part-time. It is examined by a thesis of 80,000 - 100,000 words, on a topic of your choice (providing we have the staff expertise and resources).
To find out:
- academic entrance requirements
- English Language requirements
- fees information
- how to apply
If you would like to apply to undertake postgraduate research with us, a crucial part of your application will be your research proposal. Proposals should be around 1,000 words and should include a bibliography.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss such proposals with prospective applicants prior to their making a formal application: please contact the Philosophy Postgraduate Coordinator, Dr Dominic Smith, if you would like to do this. Alternatively, if you already know who you would like to work with as your primary supervisor, you can contact them directly - see our staff profiles for their contact details.
The University of Dundee is part of a consortium of eight Higher Education institutions which has been awarded funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to support postgraduate studentships and training in the Arts and Humanities in Scotland. Under the Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) scheme, the consortium - comprised of the Universities of Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, St Andrews, Stirling, Strathclyde and Glasgow School of Art - will consider applications for doctoral studentship awards in the majority of Arts and Humanities subjects. The studentships provide funding covering full tuition fees for UK or EU students, plus a yearly maintenance grant for UK students.
Recent PhD and MPhil Research Topics
The philosophical and religious writings of Søren Kierkegaard
This thesis attempted to resuscitate the philosophical and religious writings of Søren Kierkegaard as a resource for contemporary philosophical debates through considering his work in the philosophical context of the 1840’s. This involved a reading which places Kierkegaard in the context of German idealism and considers much of his work to be in direct response to the key figures of this tradition (Kant, Fichte, Schelling, Hegel); particularly as regards issues of ontology, subjectivity, and the grounds of philosophical speculation. Along with this the thesis aimed to re-consider the socio-political aspects of Kierkegaard’s work, specifically in relation to other post-Hegelian political thinkers (Marx, Feuerbach). Finally, it aimed to show that this reading of Kierkegaard pre-figures the work of many contemporary French philosophers, particularly Jean-Paul Sartre and Alain Badiou.
Philosophies of listening drawing on the work of Derrida, Jean-Luc Nancy and Gayatri Spivak
This thesis used a close reading of the silent films of Charlie Chaplin to examine a question of listening posed by Jean-Luc Nancy, “Is listening something of which philosophy is capable” (Nancy 2007:1)? Drawing on the work of Nancy, Jacques Derrida and Gayatri Spivak, it considered a claim that philosophy has failed to address the topic of listening because a logocentric tradition claims speech as primary. In response to Derrida’s deconstruction of logocentrism, Nancy complicates the problem of listening by distinguishing between l’écoute and l’entente. L’écoute is an attending to and answering the demand of the other and l’entente is an understanding directed inward toward a subject. Nancy could deconstruct an undervalued position of l’écoute, making listening essential to speech. The thesis argued, Nancy rather asks what kind of listening philosophy is capable of. To examine this question, it focussed on the peculiarly dialogical figure derived from Chaplin that communicates meaning without using speech.
A Deleuzian interpretation of Beckett's linguistic experiments
This project questioned the perception of art and literature and critically analysed representation. Following the work of Gilles Deleuze, it offered a "clinical" interpretation of the work of Samuel Beckett and performed a reconfiguration between literature, philosophy and life. Accordingly, it explored Deleuze's reading of other philosophers concentrating on the work of Henri Bergson in relation to the Open Whole, the virtual, intensive multiplicity, and duration as well as the work of Leibniz, Foucault and Spinoza for their different analyses of subjectivity.
Realism in religion
This thesis sought to establish a realist view of religious texts, with particular reference to the Christian bible. The realism argued for was construed in terms of truth-evaluability, and via a sustained comparison with realism in the philosophy of science. The aim was not to comment on the individual truth-values of the various claims made in the bible. Rather, the thesis aimed to establish a realist reading of this particular religious text because this is necessary for the notion of religious community. Without community, it suggested, there can be no tolerance because there can be no genuine dialogue. Thus this project argued that far from breeding intolerance, realism is actually required for tolerance to be present.
Death and affirmation: a 'Nietzschean' critique of Christianity
The 'death' with which this project was concerned is the death of God, as announced and explored in the work of Nietzsche; the 'affirmation' is the affirmation of life in this world. The thesis was a Nietzschean critique of Christianity insofar as it rejects the 'holy lie' of the priest and the imposition of a transcendent teleology onto life. Central to the thesis was a critical examination of the relation between priest and believer, alongside a reading of The Anti-Christ as offering a reconfiguration of Christ. The thesis sought to move beyond anthropocentrism via its focus on life as living and dancing through humanity, in a ceaseless movement between suffering and wonderment.
Other recent topics have included:
- The architecture of emotional intuition
- The past as an idea: thinking through history with Deleuze and Benjamin
- The philosophy of metaphor
- Deleuze, Sgalambro and the problem of 'expression' in Spinoza
- The idea of difference in Hegel and Derrida
- Sounding the ineffable: Wittgenstein and ethics