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Study information

Ancient World: Greek Philosophy

Module titleAncient World: Greek Philosophy
Module codeCLA1507
Academic year2019/0
Module staff

Dr Gabriele Galluzzo (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The module will make students acquainted with the beginnings of philosophy, from the Presocratics to Aristotle. Participants will read some of the masterpieces of Western thought and become familiar with a number of crucial notions – such as explanation, principle, nature, convention, wellbeing and happiness – that are still of considerable importance in contemporary philosophical debates and in ordinary life. The module is intended for beginners and presupposes no previous acquaintance with philosophy, nor any knowledge of Greek and Latin. It is particularly suitable for interdisciplinary pathways as students will be introduced to notions that cut across philosophy, history, and literary studies.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module addresses key issues of ancient Greek philosophy. It is concerned with ancient Greek thinking on the nature and origins of philosophy and the fundamental values of a human life. Students will learn how to analyse, evaluate and use ancient Greek philosophical texts by the Presocratics, Plato and Aristotle and modern scholarly discussions as sources for understanding Greek philosophy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Through an analysis of ancient Greek philosophical texts and modern scholarly discussions, on completion of this module students will be able to describe and evaluate a number of key features of Greek philosophy.
  • 2. They will also have assimilated a basic understanding of some important Platonic and Aristotelian discussions of ethical ideas.
  • 3. They will be able to examine a set of key issues and debates in Greek philosophy.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 4. Students will be able to use and evaluate ancient Greek philosophical texts as historical sources.
  • 5. They will also develop advanced academic and library skills as well as a critical ability in assessing published literature on selected texts on Greek philosophy.

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 6. Students will demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings.
  • 7. They will also be able to select and organise relevant material and to present an argument in coherent oral and written form, and to discuss issues in a peer group.

Syllabus plan

1. The start of Western philosophy, the Presocratics.

2. Socrates, philosophical method, thought on the community and its values.

3. Plato: his thought on human desires and aspiration, body and soul, humanity and immortality.

3. Aristotle: on ethics, friendship, virtue, and happiness.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching activities5Seminars (5 x 1 hour)
Guided independent study123Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation5-10 minutes1-7Verbal feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay assignment302000 words1-7Mark and written comments
Exam 702 hours1-7Mark and written comments

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
EssayEssay1-7August ref/def period
ExamExam1-7August ref/def period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Core Set Texts:

Plato, The Last Days of Socrates (Penguin Classics).

Plato, Symposium (Penguin Classics) Aristotle, Ethics (Penguin Classics).

R. Waterfield, The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and the Sophists, translated with introduction and notes (Oxford

World's Classics, 2000)


Other Recommended Reading:

J. Annas, Ancient Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2000).

C. Gill, Greek Thought. Greece and Rome New Surveys in the Classics (Oxford University Press, 1995).

M.L.Gill, P.Pellegrni (eda.), A Companion to Ancient Philosophy (Wiley-Blackwell, 2009).

T. Irwin, Classical Thought (Oxford University Press, 1989).

D. Sedley, Cambridge Companion to Greek and Roman Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

R. Wardy, Doing Greek Philosophy (Routledge, 2005).

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Last revision date