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Study information

Aristotle's Ethics

Module titleAristotle's Ethics
Module codePHL3114
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Dr Edward Skidelsky (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

The Nicomachean Ethics, written about 350 BC, is the best known work of the Greek philosopher Aristotle and one of the most influential treatises on ethics ever. Its original title was “Ta Ethika,” meaning “things concerning character.” In it, Aristotle analyses the notions of character, action and responsibility; discusses various virtues including wisdom, courage, justice, wit and generosity; distinguishes different forms of friendship; and paints a picture the ideal life.

In this module, we will analyse Aristotle’s Ethics book by book, relating it both to its historical context and to modern debates in moral philosophy.

This module is suitable for students taking philosophy or other subjects. No prior knowledge of philosophy is required. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to introduce you to one of the most influential books of Western philosophy, Aristotle’s Ethics, and to encourage you to think carefully about some of the key issues in moral philosophy. Study on this module will enrich your grasp of central ideas and concepts that are vital to both a historical appreciation of the development of philosophical of ethics, and to understanding contemporary debates on ethics. You will enhance your skills of interpretation, analysis and evaluation through careful and detailed close textual study of what is perhaps the most important work of moral philosophy.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

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

  • 1. critically engage in in-depth study of a text through detailed reading and analysis;
  • 2. understand the historical and social context of production of the philosophical book;
  • 3. question/criticise the text’s approach from different perspectives;

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

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

  • 4. demonstrate the ability to analyse philosophical arguments;
  • 5. reason critically about the abstract and concrete problems addressed in texts;
  • 6. write well-argued essays using appropriate philosophical arguments and language.

ILO: Personal and key skills

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

  • 7. construct and critically evaluate arguments;
  • 8. formulate and express ideas at different levels of abstraction;
  • 9. assess, analyse, discuss, and criticise the views of others;.
  • 10. demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:’

1. Introduction

2. Book 1

3. Book 2

4. Book 3

5. Book 4

6. Book 6

7. Book 7

8. Book 8

9. Book 9

10. Book 10

11. Summary and Revision

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 Activity22Weekly seminars. The course will be devoted to detailed discussion and analysis of the text. This format allows for in-depth analysis, exploration of your own ideas and discussion between students and lecturer.
Guided Independent Study66Reading and preparation for weekly seminar analysis and discussion of the core text
Guided Independent Study36Preparation for assigned essay
Guided Independent Study26Reading materials to supplement the core text

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Oral seminar presentation 5 minutes1-9Oral
Essay Plan2 A4 pages1-9Written

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
Essay502,000 words1-9Written
Exam501 hour 30 mins1-9Oral and written

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay Essay (2,000 words)1-9August/September reassessment period
ExamExam (1 hour 30 mins)1-9August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

The key text for the course will be:

Aristotle, Ethics, ed. Sarah Broadie and Christopher Rowe. (Oxford University Press, 2002).

We will be using this edition. Please do not purchase any other.

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date