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 online 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.

Our MA and PhD programmes are run by 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 Associate Professor 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 Joel White

As well as teaching at Staffordshire University, I’m the executive editor of Technophany, Journal of Philosophy and Technology (Radboud University Press). My research crosses over between continental philosophy of media, science and technology. Currently, I’m looking into how 19th and 20th century thermodynamics and information theory was received into philosophy and literature and how technoscientific concepts, including “energy,” “entropy,” and “information” have become philosophical concepts. I’m also an active cinematographer and film colourist and my films, made in collaboration with artist and director Madison Bycroft, have been nominated and shown at the Tate Modern, the Villa Medici Film Festival and the Anne Arbour film festival. I’m a translator of the French avant-garde, having published book-length translations of surrealist poet Antonin Artaud. 

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. 


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 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

The MA in Continental Philosophy at Staffordshire was exactly the program I was looking for. As a distance learner, I benefitted from the flexibility of online learning—combined with high-quality course instruction, numerous and diverse opportunities for discussion and engagement with fellow students, and material that challenges parameters of thinking. Professors make a distinct effort to be available to provide guidance and support to each individual. I walked away from the program with renewed and heightened interest in asking, examining, understanding, and answering questions.”     Kristen Cantor

“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.” Dave Monroe

Staffordshire University’s distance learning MA program has been a very rewarding experience, as it allowed me to build a foundation, and deepen my knowledge and understanding about different topics and philosophers. Thanks to this program, I developed a strong interest in philosophers such as Nietzsche, Foucault, and Michel Serres. The modules are rich, versatile, and encompassing as they cover different philosophers and topics in a sensible, adaptable, and creative way. The forums are lively, and discussions and interactions with other students contribute to a dynamic learning process. Professors are very knowledgeable and supportive, and thanks to Professor Webb’s very valuable feedback, criticism, and support, I was able to find my focus and direction for my dissertation, and navigate the process of writing, which proved to be a very informative and rewarding process. I’m very happy to have been a student in this program ad strongly recommend it to everyone who is interested in Philosophy.” Ilgin Yildiz

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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