Phil and social science

Philosophy and Sociology

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The double-bachelor in Philosophy and Social Science is currently the only undergraduate programme at PSUAD allowing enrolled students to study fulltime towards two majors and to graduate with a double-bachelor recognised as such by the French Ministry of Education. The curriculum associates the study of the classics of European and Islamic thought with an in-depth knowledge of contemporary society and politics. Its unique programme is the result of a collaboration between the Department of Philosophy of the Sorbonne (ranked as the best in France by QS World University Rankings in 2011 and 2012) and its Department of Sociology, which has a strong legacy in theoretical sociology, economic sociology and rational choice theory.

As heir to the medieval Faculty of Arts of the University of Paris, Paris-Sorbonne University as a eight-century long legacy of teaching philosophy at the world’s highest level. During the twentieth century, its professors have been at the forefront of most important philosophical currents and innovations, spanning across positivism, phenomenology, existentialism and the French reception of Anglo-American analytical philosophy. In the early-twentieth century, Sorbonne became also one of the first European universities to develop an independent curriculum of sociology, with the appointment of Emile Durkheim (1902). At all stages of its history, the Sorbonne has been at the heart of exchanges with the Arab and Islamic world. The masters of the medieval Sorbonne were the first to study the Latin translations of Al Fârâbî and Avicenna (Ibn Sînâ). During the twentieth century, several outstanding Arab and Muslim philosophers, sociologists and writers have studied on the Sorbonne’s benches and contributed to the dialogue between Europe and the Middle East, such as Taha Husayn (1918), future Egyptian minister of culture, and Muhammad Hamidullah (1934), the acclaimed Hyderabadi translator of the Holy Qu’rān.

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The curriculum is divided into three types of courses:

Core curriculum (years 1 &2) : a basic set of courses restricted to the students of this programme which includes introductory courses in critical thinking, decision theory, scientific reasoning and the foundation of ethics.

Philosophy and Social Science majors (years 1, 2 &3) : students will be able to follow a balance selection of all major fields of philosophy and social and political science. They will acquire a sound knowledge of the major parts of philosophy (logic, ethics, philosophy of science and language, aesthetics, political philosophy), history of philosophy (ancient, medieval islamic, early-modern and contemporary) and develop their reading and analysis skills in order to be well prepared for graduate studies in that field. This will be complemented by courses in all the core disciplines of social and political science to develop, which will allow them to develop their skills in the analysis of contemporary societies : globalisation studies, political movements, the evolution of norms, economics, networks, rational choice theory.

Humanities minors (years 1 &2) : this part of the curriculum allows the student to broaden their knowledge in arts and sciences and their historical context, by taking minors offered in other departments in history, history of art and archeology, literature, mass communication, and French studies, languages.

L1 L2 L3
Core curriculum

  • Logic and Critical Thinking
  • Theory of Knowledge
Core curriculum

  • Decision Theory
  • Scientific Reasoning
Majors in Philosophy

    • Early-Modern Philosophy
    • Contemporary Philosophy
    • Theories of Justice
    • Political Philosophy
    • Comparative Philosophy

Majors in Social Science

      • Science and Technology
      • Rational Choice Theory
      • Social Research
      • Power and Society in the Gulf
      • Urban Sociology



  • History of Philosophy
  • Introduction to Ethics
  • Social Theory
  • Applied Social Research

  • Ancient and Islamic Philosophy
  • Philosophy of Mind
  • Aesthetics: Art and Beauty
  • Social Stratification
  • Economy and Society

  • Choice of four courses in History, History of Art and Archeology,Literature and Political Science

  • Choice of three courses in History, History of Art and Archeology, Literature and Political Science

  • Communication and Media studies
  • Introduction to the Ancient World
  • Foreign Languages
  • Sport
  • Tutorial
  • Fieldwork

  • Communication and Media Studies
  • Middle Eastern Studies
  • Foreign Languages
  • Sport
  • Fieldwork

    • Money and Religion
    • Middle Eastern Studies
    • Foreign Languages
    • Sport
    • Fieldwork


PHILOSOPHY (2013-2014)

Jean-Cassien Billier (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 2006), visiting associate professor in ethics and moral philosophy. He was a former member of the European University Institute in Florence (Italy). He is the author of numerous textbooks on various philosophical subjects such as Kant (1998), knowledge and ignorance (1999) and power (2000). His research is mainly dedicated to contemporary ethics, in particular medical ethics and gender issues. He is one of the best specialists of contemporary Anglo-American ethics and meta-ethics in France. His recent book, Introduction à l’éthique (Paris, 2010), offers the best available survey in French on those issues.

Vincent Carraud (PhD Poitiers, 1990), visiting Professor in Early-Modern Philosophy. Before joining the Sorbonne, he taught at the University of Caen and has been invited professor at the universities of Laval (Québec), Rome (La Sapienza), Chicago and at the Catholic Institute of Paris. He is the author of several books dedicated the early-modern French philosophy, in particular Pascal et la philosophie (PUF, 1990); Causa sive ratio. La raison de la cause, de Suárez à Descartes (PUF, 2002) and L’invention du moi (PUF, 2010). His research focuses on subjectivity, the Cartesian tradition and the relationship between philosophy and theology.

Stéphane Chauvier (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1994), visiting Professor of Applied Ethics. After having started his career at the University of Caen, he became Professor of Applied Ethics and Head of the Department of Philosophy of the Sorbonne in 2010. His research is dedicated to contemporary philosophy of mind (Dire “je”. Essai sur la subjectivité, Vrin, 2001), philosophy of logic (Le sens du possible, Vrin, 2010) and to political and legal philosophy, in particular in the context of globalization (Du droit d’être étranger. Essai sur le concept kantien d’un droit cosmopolitique, L’Harmattan, 1996; Justice internationale et solidarité, Chambon, 1998 ; Justice et droits à l’échelle globale, EHESS, 2006 ; Éthique sans visage. Le problème des effets externes, Vrin, 2013). At Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi, he teaches philosophy of mind and decision theory.

Suzanne Husson (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1997), visiting associate professor in ancient philosophy. She is a member of the Léon Robin Research Centre in Ancient Philosophy. Her main research focus is ancient cynicism, of which she tries to demonstrate the philosophical coherence through a rigorous philological approach, as well as first stoicism. She is the editor of Interpréter le De Interpretatione (Vrin, 2009) and the author of an important monography, La république de Diogène (Vrin, 2010).

David Lefebvre (PhD Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne, 2000), visiting associate professor in ancient philosophy. He has previously been lecturer at the Ecole Normale Supérieure (Paris). He is a specialist of the Aristotelian tradition, in particular among the commentators of Late Antiquity such as Alexander of Aphrodisias and Simplicius. A member of the Centre Léon Robin, dedicated to the study of ancient thought, he authored numerous articles in the best journals dedicated to antique philosophy, and is also the Editor in Chief of the famous French academic journal Les Etudes philosophiques.

Pascal Ludwig (PhD Ecole Polytechnique, Paris, 2001), visiting associate professor in logic and argumentation. His research is dedicated both to philosophy of mind (the qualia, introspection and phenomenal concepts) and to philosophy of language (in particular the notion of reference). He is the author of La philosophie des sciences au XXe siècle (Flammarion, 2000, with A. Barberousse and M. Kistler) and of an anthology of texts, Le langage (Garnier, 1997).

Jean-Baptiste Rauzy (PhD Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne, 1998), visiting Professor in Logic and Theory of Knowledge. Before joining the Sorbonne in 2010, he taught during twelve years at the University of Aix-en-Provence. He is a specialist of early-modern philosophy (Leibniz in particular), philosophy of language and contemporary theory of knowledge. He dedicated his research on the concepts of truth and more recently on abstraction. He is the author of Leibniz. Recherches générales sur l’analyse des notions et des vérités, et autres textes métaphysiques (PUF, 1998) and La doctrine leibnizienne de la vérité (Vrin, 2001). He coordinated the French translation of Nelson Goodman’s Structure of Appearance (Vrin, 2005).

Laurence Renault (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1997), visiting professor in early-modern philosophy. She is a specialist of the thought of Descartes, and is currently the secretary of the Centre of Cartesian Studies at the Sorbonne. She authored many books and articles on major themes in early-modern philosophy, among which in particular Descartes ou la félicité volontaire (PUF, 2000).

Jacob Schmutz (PhD EPHE Paris, 2003), resident associate professor in medieval philosophy at Paris-Sorbonne Abu Dhabi and head of the programme in philosophy and social science on the Abu Dhabi campus since 2010. He studied philosophy, political science and history in Brussels, Cambridge and Paris, and was a scientific member of the Casa de Velázquez (Madrid). He is a specialist of medieval and Renaissance Western philosophy, and currently works on medieval theories of belief in a comparative perspective (Judaism, Islam, Christianity). As a translator, he introduced to the French public works by Eric Voegelin, Niklas Luhmann, Kurt Flasch and Jan Assmann.

Alexander Schnell (PhD Paris-Est Créteil, 2001), visiting associate professor in contemporary philosophy. He is a specialist of classical German philosophy (in particular Fichte and Schelling) and of the phenomenological tradition of Husserl, Heidegger down to Lévinas, to which he dedicated numerous books (Temps et phénomène. La phénoménologie husserlienne du temps, 1893-1918, G. Olms, 2004; De l’existence ouverte au monde fini. Heidegger, 1925-1930, Vrin, 2005 ; Husserl et les fondements de la phénoménologie constructive, J. Millon, 2007 ; Réflexion et spéculation. L’idéalisme transcendantal chez Fichte et Schellin, J. Millon, 2009 ; En deçà du sujet. Du temps dans la philosophie transcendantale allemande, PUF, 2010 ; En face de l’extériorité. Lévinas et la question de la subjectivité, Vrin, 2010; Hinaus. Entwürfe zu einer phänomenologischen Metaphysik und Anthropologie, Königshausen & Neumann, 2011; En voie du réel, Hermann, 2013).

Pierre-Henri Tavoillot (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1996), visiting professor in political philosophy and ethics. His first research was dedicated to the philosophical tradition of the German Enlightenment (Le crépuscule des lumières, Cerf, 1995). He is now dedicating himself to contemporary practical issues, in particular around the self-image of individuals in contemporary societies: education, citizenship, aging. He has often acted as consultant to private companies and to the French Ministry of Education. He is the author of an acclaimed essay on aging in Western societies, Philosophie des âges de la vie (Grasset, 2007, with E. Deschavanne). He has also been regularly teaching at Sciences-Po, the Institute of Political Studies in Paris. Forthcoming: Qui doit gouverner? (Grasset, 2011).


Renaud Debailly (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 2010), visiting associate professor in sociology. He specializes in sociology of science and technology (expertise, socio-technical debates, collective action, representations and perceptions of social and environmental impacts). His PhD was dedicated to the radical critique of science in French sociological discourse since 1968. He published several articles on the evaluation of academic policies, nanotechnology, the public perception of healthcare politics, etc.

Pierre-Marie Chauvin (PhD Bordeaux, 2009), visiting associate professor in sociology. He was also an invited research at Columbia University (New York, 2010). He specializes in economic sociology, visual and media sociology and labor analysis. He is the author of Le marché des réputations. Une sociologie des Grands Crus de Bordeaux (Féret, 2010) and of several specialized articles on the social perception of the wine market.

Beate Collet (PhD EHESS Paris, 1996), visiting associate professor in sociology. She specializes in sociology of inter-ethnic relations, families and marital life. She did extensive research on mixed marriages and immigrant communities in France, and published several books on the subject (Couples d’ici, parents d’ailleurs. Parcours de descendants d’immigrés, PUF, 2012, with E. Santelli)

Pierre Demeulenaere (PhD Paris-Sorbonne, 1994) is visiting professor of sociol           ogy and Head of the Department of Sociology at Paris-Sorbonne. After having started his career as professor in Nancy, he succeeded his former master Raymond Boudon (1934-2010) at the Sorbonne, and has been invited professor at the university of Geneva. His research is mainly dedicated to theoretical sociology, in particular in the fields of rational choice theory, theory of norms and beliefs. He is the author of Homo oeconomicus. Enquête sur la constitution d’un paradigme (Paris, 1996) and Les normes sociales. Entre accords et désaccords (Paris, 2003). More recently, he is the editor of the English-language collective work Analytical Sociology and Social mechanisms (Cambridge UP, 2011).

Didier Lapeyronnie (PhD Bordeaux 1983) is visiting Professor of Sociology. He taught for many years at the University of Bordeaux – Europe’s oldest Department of Sociology – before joining the Sorbonne. His first research was dedicated to trade-unions and to the sociology of students, immigrants and the French suburbs. He is the author or co-author of numerous books in particular Campus blues. Les étudiants français face à leurs études (Seuil, 1992, with J.-L. Marie) ; L’individu et les minorités. La France et la Grande-Bretagne face à leurs immigrés (PUF, 1993) ; and more recently, Ghetto urbain. Ségrégation, violence, pauvreté en France aujourd’hui (R. Laffont, 2008).

Jean-Christophe Marcel (PhD Paris-I Panthéon-Sorbonne 1997), visiting associate professor in sociology. He specializes in the history of French sociology, and has published numerous studies on Maurice Halbwachs, Emile Durkheim, François Simiand and George Gurvitch. He his the author of Le durkheimisme dans l’entre-deux-guerres (PUF, 2001) and François Simiand. Critique sociologique de l’économie politique (PUF, 2006, with Ph. Steiner).

Sébastien Mosbah-Natanson (PhD Paris-Dauphine 2007), resident assistant professor in sociology at Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi. He specializes in the history of classical sociology (the French Durkheimian school) and sociology of science. Before relocating to Abu Dhabi, he was a postdoctoral research at the University of Québec in Montreal (UQAM). He co-directed, with S. Crépon, Les sciences sociales au prisme de l’extrême-droite (L’Harmattan, 2008), and has published extensively on the internationalization of social sciences (“The Globalization of Social Sciences? Evidence from a quantitative analysis of 30 years of production, collaboration and citations in the social sciences (1980-2009)”, Current Sociology (1/2013, with Y. Gingras). He currently prepares a book on French Sociology in 1900.

Philippe Steiner (PhD Paris-Nanterre, 1984), visiting Professor of Economic Sociology. After having taught at the universities of Paris-IX Dauphine and Lille, he became professor of economic sociology at the Sorbonne in 2007. His first research was dedicated to the ancestors of French sociology, such as the Physiocrats and Jean-Baptiste Say (whose works he republished), and to the founding figure of Emile Durkheim (La sociologie de Durkheim, La Découverte, 1994; Durkheim and the Birth of Economic Sociology, transl. K. Tribe, Princeton UP, 2010). His more recent studies consecrated him as one of the foremost thinkers of contemporary economic sociology (Sociologie de la connaissance économique. Essai sur les rationalisations de la connaissance économique, 1750-1850, PUF, 1998; La sociologie économique, La Découverte, 1999). He has been investigating in particular the social perception of wealth and of organ transplantation (La transplantation d’organes. Un commerce entre les êtres humains, Gallimard, 2010 ; Les rémunérations obscènes. Le scandale des hauts revenus en France, Zones, 2011).

Elise Verley (PhD Lille, 2003), visiting associate professor of sociology. She is a specialist of education, and dedicated her research to the relationship between university education and job market in France. She edited the volume Les mondes étudiants. Enquête conditions de vie (La Documentation française, 2012, with O. Galland & R. Vourc’h).

“To beat the market, hire a philosopher” (The New York Times, 10 January 1999) 

Graduates from the double-bachelor in philosophy of social science will have acquired “the best of both world”, that is strong analytical skills and creativity from philosophy associated with an intimate knowledge of our contemporary political, social and economic environment. It is regularly proven that philosophy majors are among the best performers of high-level tests such as LSAT (to be admitted at Law Schools in the USA), GMAT or GRE. When they leave academia, many do well in sectors such as strategic planning, consultancy, human resources and the media industry.

Studying towards a Master

Double-Bachelors allow their holders to be admitted in an exceptionally wide array of MA programmes, ranging from pure research to various applied disciplines and professional fields.

  • Political Science
  • Public Policy or Public Administration
  • International Relations
  • Human Resources
  • Journalism and Communication Studies
  • Publishing
  • Social Research
  • Research degrees in Philosophy

Career Opportunities

  • Government and NGO, Foreign Service
  • Strategic consulting and planning
  • Human Resources
  • Press, TV, and all other forms of media
  • Polling Agencies
  • Market Research
  • Secondary and Higher Education
  • Publishing

“The double major in Philosophy and Social Science of Paris-Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi had a determining role in my college life.  It allowed me to nurture academic competencies at the highest level thanks to the close mentoring of professors and to the quality of teaching delivered. More importantly, this university is located in a country which is a unique cultural crossroad: it gave me the opportunity to develop my adaptation skills and to discover the professional world by living and studying with fellow students from all over the world.”

Stevan Brodin, majoring in 2013, now studying for graduate studies in Canada 

We strongly believe that students must learn also outside of the classroom. The Department is organising many activities meant to foster communication and relational skills among the students, and we actively mentor our students to participate in numerous social networking activities in and outside of the campus.


Over the past years, students enrolled in the double-bachelor in philosophy and social science have made numerous fieldtrips across the UAE in order to exchange their experiences and debate with students from other universities, attend workshops or conduct sociological research in real life situations. Students have regularly visited UAEU Al Ain, seminars at NYUAD or AUS, the Sharjah Biennale, the Abu Dhabi book fair and made a research trip to Ras Al Khaimah (Autumn 2013). A yearly study trip has been organized in Spring 2013 to the University of Hyderabad (India), with all the students enrolled in the programme, exposing them to radically different cultural and social experiences.


The Department of Philosophy and Sociology is strongly encouraging the exchange between students from the Paris and Abu Dhabi campuses. PSUAD third-year students have the possibility to equally spend a semester in Paris, and each year, Paris-Sorbonne students are selected on criteria of academic excellence to spend a semester on the Abu Dhabi campus, thereby creating a strong like between our two academic communities.


The Department aims at attracting students with high potential. Students from the Department have actively and successfully participated in various international student conferences, among whichSILA international student conference hosted by New York University Abu Dhabi and SIM Nato 2013 in Belgrade (Serbia).


The Department is hosting every year a research seminar, with invited guest speakers on topics in philosophy and social science relevant to the United Arab Emirates and the Gulf States. Students are strongly invited to participate in order to discover the contemporary trends in research be exposed to high-level academic life. Topics include themes from intellectual history, public policy, and social issues such as demographic evolution, education, labour, and gender.