About us

Who are we?
We are a small, research-intensive philosophy department, specialising in modern Continental (European) philosophy. We offer two MA programmes in Philosophy and a PhD programme, all of which are available by ‘distance learning.’ The MA in Continental Philosophy has been running for over ten years now and we currently have more than 60 postgraduates from all around the world studying with us. Staffordshire University is a fully accredited part of the United Kingdom higher education system, and its degrees are accepted and respected around the world.

Our MA and PhD programmes are run by three experienced members of staff.

Prof David Webb

My research interests are in recent and contemporary European philosophy. My PhD was from Warwick University, on Heidegger and Aristotle, but my work now is focused on French epistemology and philosophy of science, and in particular on the work of Michel Serres and the connections between knowledge, ethics, and politics. I am also interested in Foucault, especially in his conception of critique as a rational practice. On our MA programmes I teach Knowledge and Politics, Contracts with Nature, and I supervise Dissertations and Research Projects.

For more information, see David’s profile page.

Dr Patrick O’Connor

I’m a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, with a background in Phenomenology and European Philosophy. I received my PhD in Philosophy from National University of Ireland, Galway in 2005. I have worked at NUIG, Open University, Manchester Metropolitan University and Nottingham Trent University. My research is primarily in European Philosophy, with special reference to Phenomenology, 19th and 20th Century European Philosophy, and twentieth and twenty first Century French Philosophy. On our MA programmes I teach Transcendence and the Body, Phenomenology and Ontology, Posthumanism and Technology, and I supervise Dissertations and Research Projects.

For more information, see Patrick’s profile page.

Dr Bill Ross

It is with extreme sadness that we announce the recent and unexpected death of Dr Bill Ross. His contribution to teaching, research, and the development of the philosophy programme at Staffordshire was immense, and delivered always with warmth and generosity.

Bill’s interests ranged widely across contemporary philosophy and culture, but with a special focus on the relation between science and philosophy. He wrote on the work of Michel Serres, and with David Webb translated and wrote an introduction for Michel Serres, The Birth of Physics (Rowman & Littlefield: 2018). His monograph Order and the Virtual: Toward a Deleuzian Cosmology is forthcoming with Edinburgh University Press.

What do we offer?

We offer the following programmes, all of which are available fully by distance learning, and either full-time or part-time.

We support postgraduate research and particularly welcome applications for a PhD in the following areas:
  • Nietzsche
  • Phenomenology (especially Heidegger)
  • Postructuralism
  • Michel Foucault 
  • Michel Serres
  • Posthumanism
  • New Materialisms
  • Vitalism
  • French epistemology and philosophy of science
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • Philosophy and Film
  • The Department also has a experience in theory/practice PhD projects, where we supervise in conjunction with colleagues from fine art or other practice-based subjects.

Where are we?

As most of the work we do is online, this may be a curious question to ask, but it can be good to have an idea of where the University is and something of the history of the place. The University has 15,000 students and the campus is in the middle of the City of Stoke-on-Trent, the largest urban area in the County of Staffordshire. Stoke-on-Trent is situated mid-way between Manchester to the north and Birmingham to the south. it has a population of about 260,000 and is unusual in that it is made up of six small towns, each with their own centre (Tunstall, Burslem, Hanley, Stoke-upon-Trent, Fenton, Longton). Stoke-on-Trent is the historic home of the ceramics industry, with such household names as Spode and Wedgwood (and more recent famous brands such as Portmeirion, Moorcroft and Emma Bridgewater), and to Stoke City FC, the second oldest professional football team in the world. Reginald Mitchell the inventor of the Spitfire fighter plane; T. E. Hulme, philosopher and one of the founders of modernist poetry; Oliver Lodge, who invented the spark plug; Arnold Bennett, one of the best-selling novelists of the early 20th Century; and Edward Smith the captain of the Titanic — all were all born here. H. G. Wells lived in the city for a formative period in his early career, while Rousseau wrote the first half of his Confessions at Wootton in Staffordshire. Philip Astley, 18th Century showman and inventor of the modern circus, was born in Staffordshire; as were Elias Ashmole, 17th Century polymath and founder of the famous Ashmolean museum, Vera Brittain, author of the famous memoirs Testament of Youth, and Samuel Johnson (‘Dr. Johnson’), he of Dictionary fame. Charles Darwin had two eminent grandfathers: Josiah Wedgwood (great Stoke industrialist and enlightenment figure) and Erasmus Darwin (medical doctor in our county, and himself a pioneering naturalist). Indeed, the Wedgwoods helped finance Charles’ voyages. Speaking of grandparents, Jorge-Luis Borges’ grandmother was born and lived in the City and his story ‘The Garden of Forking Paths’ is set here. 
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What do our students say about us?

We aim to create a friendly and welcoming atmosphere and for all our students to feel personally supported. You will be in touch with the staff as often as you would on any other course.

In three out of the last four years our students have given us a 100% overall satisfaction rating in the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (a national survey in the UK of all students on taught postgraduate courses). Here are a few of the things our students have said about studying philosophy at Staffordshire University.

My long-awaited desire to study Philosophy at the academic level became possible with this program. The faculty is very supportive, and their continuous feedback has helped me enhance my critical thinking in philosophy. Other students’ contribution to the discussion forums was the other crucial element of this program. I strongly recommend it.” Kemal Tezgin”

“Joining the postgrad philosophers at Staffs is much more than just signing up for a degree: the people you’ll be studying with are serious about learning and knowledge for their own sake.  They’re also rather nice and a lot of fun.  It’s a different – demanding but much more worthwhile – way of doing things than much modern education.” Catherine Lee

My experiences so far have been overwhelmingly positive. The tutors are very helpful, the modules generally well designed, and the literature interesting and intellectually stimulating. I’ve benefitted from other students’ insights, too, who, along with the tutors, have helped me gain traction on issues in continental philosophy. Philosophy at Staffs promotes a very convivial atmosphere for learning.” David Monroe

This program exceeded all possible expectations!  Despite the fact that all of the instruction takes place in written lectures and online forum, there is significant interaction that helps to develop the difficult concepts of some of the most complex thinkers in modern philosophy.  I am so glad that I chose to enroll!” William Yzaguirre

Having spent a year of distance learning studying analytical philosophy at another university, I wanted to get a solid grounding in European philosophy so I transferred to do my second year of the MA with Staffs. I am delighted that I did so, not least because of the quality of tuition and the participation of the other students on the lively discussion forums but also because you are challenged and encouraged at every stage to develop your thinking. It was demanding, of course, and the academic standard is very high but having just finished, I am now confident that I have the skills and knowledge to continue in philosophy whenever I decide to. Thoroughly recommended.” Bob Lloyd

And what about the University?

League tables and metrics can be overrated because it’s the quality of the individual communication with each other that really counts, but here are a few recent outcomes for Staffordshire University.

  • University of the Year – Edufuturist Awards 2021
  • Top 15 for Teaching Quality – The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021
  • Top 15 for Student Satisfaction – The Complete University Guide 2022
  • Top 20 for job prospects – Student Crowd Universities Awards 2021
  • Top 6 for social inclusion – The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021.

(Please note that although Gradschools.com kindly allow us to maintain a listing on their site, we are no longer able to receive enquiries through them. You will have to contact us directly.)

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