MPhil and DPhil in Intellectual History
The University offers individual supervision leading to a DPhil in Intellectual History, which is organised through the Centre for Intellectual History. We offer also the highly flexible MPhil which is pitched between the MA and the DPhil. It may be taken by dissertation only but offers the possibility of an individually tailored course programme.
With our active research agenda in early-modern and modern philosophy, political thought, international relations, literature, religion, and science we offer an exceptionally wide field of potential topics and the best possible opportunities for cross-disciplinary work. All the major national and international electronic archives are available in the Library, and there is easy access to all the London libraries and collections. Based in the Sussex Centre for Intellectual History, the programme offers students a vibrant environment of scholarship, close involvement in conferences and seminars, contact with the world of scholarly publishing, as well as a pleasant social atmosphere. The programme has repeatedly been successful in attracting AHRC, Leverhulme, British Academy and other funding. In later years of study, students may get the opportunity to teach undergraduate courses.
Core faculty and their research interests
The following faculty are particularly associated with the programme:
Knud Haakonssen (Professor of Intellectual History) Research expertise: Early Modern European Intellectual History.
Rob Iliffe (Professor of Intellectual History and the History of Science) Research expertise: Early Modern History of Science and Natural Philosophy.
Norman Vance (Professor of English) Research expertise: Victorian and Irish literature, religion and society, and biblical and classical influences on English literature. Irish intellectual and cultural aristocracies from the seventeenth century to the present.
Richard Whatmore (Professor of Intellectual History and the History of Political Thought) Research expertise: Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century British, French and Swiss Intellectual History, the history of political thought and the history of political economy)
Dissertation topics supervised by the core faculty include:
- Problems of explanation in the social sciences.
- Early-modern theories of property.
- The concept of utility in Hume and Bentham.
- J.G. Herder - Seine Grundlage der Sprache im Kontext der Sprachwissenschaft und Anthropologie des achtzehnten Jahrhunderts.
- Moral sense theories from the Cambridge Platonists to Hutcheson.
- Innatism with special reference to Thomas Reid.
- Michael Oakeshott’s view of history.
- Hume’s sceptical science.
- David Hume’s Moral Science and the Illusions of Common Life.
- Kant’s republicanism.
- Kant’s conception of the highest good.
- Utilitarian radicalism and colonialism.
- John Stuart Mill and political education.
- Hume’s moral philosophy.
- The state in Spinoza.
- Eighteenth-century materialism.
- Moral philosophy and feminist thought in Masham, Astell, and Cockburn.
- The intellectual biography of Francisco Vitoria.
- The religious thought of Thomas Reid.
- 'The Language of Naked Facts': Joseph Priestley on Language and Revealed Religion
- Patrick Manson and British medical work in China in the late nineteenth century.
- James Bradley's cosmology.
- The political anatomy of Thomas Willis.
- Astronomy, instrumentation and draughtsmanship in the circle of Albrecht Durer.
- The development of naval architecture in eighteenth century France.
- Science and the Herschel dynasty, 1750-1900.
- The contexts of Newton’s ‘History of the Corruption of the Church’.
- Reputations of Newton in C19 Britain.
- The rhetorical structure of Newton’s scientific and theological treatises.
- Understanding dreams in early modern England.
- Trying philosophy: inquisitorial prosecutions for intellectual heresy, 1592-1633.
- Politics and history in England 1793-1832: Sir James Mackintosh and his critics.
- The economics of Shelley’s aesthetic.
- Failed entities: culture and politics in Ireland 1969-1991.
- History, nationalism and gender in Brian Moore.
- History, nature and gender in the Irish writings of Emily Lawless.
- Victorian representations and transformations: sacred place in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure.
- One wild flower: a study of Victorian nonsense.
- The political thought of the Cordeliers Club.
- Polytheism in Benjamin Constant’s De la Religion.
- Bolingbroke’s politics and the reform of the navy.
- Religion and politics in the thought of David Williams.
- The Chevalier Michael Ramsay, Jacobitism and absolutism.
- James Mill’s Commonplace books in their intellectual context.
- The religious and political background to John Brown’s Estimate of Manners.