Ancient Philosophy

The details
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Thursday 07 October 2021
Friday 17 December 2021
05 October 2021


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

This module provides an advanced introduction to ancient philosophy. We will look in detail at central works by Plato and Aristotle, introducing key themes in their ethics, epistemology and metaphysics. We will end the course by looking briefly at the different Hellenistic schools that flourished after Aristotle.

The course will be centred on four key texts: Plato's Meno, Plato's Republic, Aristotle's De Anima and Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. All of these texts are extremely rich and it will be impossible to cover all the topics they raise. We will focus on a selection of key passages and topics, exploring the passages carefully enough to assess the various arguments presented and see what different interpretations of the texts are possible. In engaging closely with the texts, students will also become familiar with the philosophical style and methodological orientations of Plato and Aristotle.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

1. to introduce students to selected texts in ancient Greek philosophy;
2. to make students aware of key arguments and theories by Plato and Aristotle;
3. to promote a historical sense in relation to the texts;
4. to develop powers of exposition and analysis of unfamiliar patterns of thought;
5. to give students an idea of the place of Greek thought in the development of Western philosophy.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able in their essays and examination answers to:

1. expound in their own words selected passages from ancient philosophic texts;
2. expound and criticize theories and arguments covered in the module;
3. articulate and assess some of the differences between Greek and contemporary forms of philosophical thinking

Module information

Incoming Study Abroad students must have already taken an introductory module in Philosophy at their home institution.

Learning and teaching methods

1 x one-hour lecture each week followed by a two-hour discussion and reading seminar at which issues covered in the lecture will be discussed. Week 21 is Reading Week.


This module does not appear to have any essential texts. To see non-essential items, please refer to the module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Weighting
Coursework   Commentary TOTAL (2 of 3)    40% 
Coursework   Commentary 1   28/10/2021  0% 
Coursework   Commentary 2  04/11/2021  0% 
Coursework   Commentary 3  11/11/2021  0% 
Coursework   Essay Plan incl. short review of secondary literature (600 words)  29/11/2021  20% 
Coursework   Essay (2000-words)  20/12/2021  40% 

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ellisif Wasmuth, email:



External examiner

No external examiner information available for this module.
Available via Moodle
Of 857 hours, 36 (4.2%) hours available to students:
821 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information

Disclaimer: The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its Module Directory is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to programmes, modules, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include a change of law or regulatory requirements, industrial action, lack of demand, departure of key personnel, change in government policy, or withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to modules may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery or assessment of modules and other services, to discontinue modules and other services and to merge or combine modules. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications and module directory.

The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.