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Study information

Ancient World: Greek Philosophy

Module titleAncient World: Greek Philosophy
Module codeCLA2507
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. Describe, evaluate and analyse a number of key features of Greek philosophy through an analysis of ancient Greek philosophical texts and modern scholarly discussions
  • 2. Have developed understanding of some important Platonic and Aristotelian discussions of ethical ideas
  • 3. Analyse 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. Use, analyse and evaluate ancient Greek philosophical texts as historical sources
  • 5. 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. Demonstrate independent and group study skills in research and presentation of findings
  • 7. Select and organise relevant material and to present a strong argument in coherent oral and written form, and to discuss issues in a peer group

Syllabus plan

Whilst the content may vary from year to year, it is envisioned that it will cover some or all of the following topics:

  • The start of Western philosophy, the Presocratics.
  • Socrates, philosophical method, thought on the community and its values.
  • Plato: his thought on human desires and aspiration, body and soul, humanity and immortality.
  • 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 teaching22Lectures (11 x 2 hours)
Scheduled learning and teaching4Seminars (4 x 1 hours)
Guided independent study124Independent study

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral presentation5-10 minutes1-7Oral 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 assignment402000 words1-7Mark and written comments
Exam 602 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
Essay Essay 1-7Referral/Deferral period
ExamExam1-7Referral/Deferral period

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment as necessary. If you are successful on referral, your overall module mark will be capped at 40%.

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).

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Key words search

Classics, Greek, Philosophy

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date