BA Ancient History

Year of entry: 2021

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Course unit details:
Plato's Dialogues

Unit code CAHE30551
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

Plato is one of the most important thinkers in the Western tradition. His dialogues address questions of ethics, aesthetics, politics, physics, epistemology, psychology and life after death, to name just a few. This course provides an introduction to Plato’s writings. We will consider both their philosophical content and the manner in which the arguments are presented. Students will read a number of Plato’s dialogues in their entirety and be given the opportunity both to criticize and defend his thought as well as considering his relevance to the modern world.

Aims

This course aims to

  • introduce students to a substantial range of Plato’s writings and ideas.
  • help students to develop an awareness of what makes for successful philosophical argument via critical engagement with primary sources and secondary literature.
  • aid students’ ability to develop clear and well-argued expositions and evaluations in written form and to gain confidence in oral discussion of these texts.

Syllabus

 

 

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of Plato’s philosophy and evaluate a variety of interpretations and criticisms against the textual evidence
  • understand the relation between different dialogues and explain its possible significance.
  • assess and critique a philosophical argument.
  • demonstrate achievement of these objectives by producing clear, well-focussed written expositions and criticisms

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • construct an argument in written and oral form;
  • pose and attempt to answer questions about complex issues;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • engage in constructive philosophical discussion.

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • present the results of their work in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;
  • assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources and secondary literature;
  • conduct advances bibliographic searches;
  • engage in constructive and sustained (philosophical) discussion.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

•            construct a sustained and complex argument in written and oral form;

•            pose and confidently answer questions about complex issues;

•            assimilate and summarise large quantities of evidence;

•          present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship;

•            manage time and resources

Employability skills

Other
By the end of this course students will be able to: - analyse and examine a large amount of often difficult information; - see both sides of an argument; - synthesise an argument in a cogent form; - retrieve information from complex sources; - manage time and resources; - write in accordance with specific guidance for a particular purpose; - participate in collaborative and critical constructive discussions.

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative

Weighting within unit (if summative)

Essay Plan

Formative

 

Essay

Summative

50%

Exam

Summative

50%

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Written feedback on formative and summative assessment (see above) all summative coursework feedback is designed to contribute formatively towards improvement in subsequent assignments.

 

Formative and Summative

Students will receive written and oral feedback on Analysis of Argument formative assessment

 

Formative

Oral feedback during seminar discussions.

 

Formative

Additional one-to-one feedback (during the consultation hour or by making an appointment).

Primary sources:

  • J. Cooper (1997) Plato Complete Works, Hackett.

Secondary readings:

  • Ackrill, J.L., (2001) Essays on Plato and Aristotle, Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Annas, J. & Rowe, C.J. (eds) (2002) New Perspectives on Plato, Modern and Ancient, Washington, D.C.: Harvard University Press.  
  • Benson, H. (ed.) (2006) A Companion to Plato, Oxford: Blackwell Publishing
  • Fine, G. (ed.) (1999) Plato, Oxford: Oxford University Press. (2 volumes)
  • Fine, G. (ed.) (2008) The Oxford handbook of Plato, Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Irwin, T., (1995) Plato's Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.  
  • Kahn, C., (1996) Plato and the Socratic dialogue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Kahn, C., (2013) Plato and the Post-Socratic Dialogue, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Kraut, R. ed., (1992) The Cambridge companion to Plato, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.  
  • Morrison, Donald R., (2010) The Cambridge Companion to Socrates, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Vlastos, G. ed., (1971) Plato: A Collection of Critical Essays, Garden City, N.Y: Anchor Books. (2 volumes)
  • Vlastos, G., (1973) Platonic Studies., Princeton: Princeton University Press.  

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Jenny Bryan Unit coordinator

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