Ancient Philosophy

The details
Philosophical, Historical and Interdisciplinary Studies (School of)
Colchester Campus
Undergraduate: Level 5
Monday 13 January 2025
Friday 21 March 2025
05 April 2024


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 module 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:

  • To introduce students to selected texts in ancient Greek philosophy.

  • To make students aware of key arguments and theories by Plato and Aristotle.

  • To promote a historical sense in relation to the texts.

  • To develop powers of exposition and analysis of unfamiliar patterns of thought.

  • To give students an idea of the place of Greek thought in the development of Western philosophy.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able 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

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 1-hour lecture each week followed by a 2-hour discussion and reading seminar at which issues covered in the lecture will be discussed.

There will also be a reading week.


This module does not appear to have a published bibliography for this year.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Commentaries TOTAL (best 2 out of 3)    40% 
Coursework   Essay plan including short review of secondary literature (600 words)     20% 
Coursework   Essay (2000 words)    40% 

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Ellisif Wasmuth, email:
PHAIS General Office: 6.130;



External examiner

Dr Josiah Saunders
Durham University
Associate Professor
Available via Moodle
Of 27 hours, 27 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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