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BA Classics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Finding Happiness in the Ancient World

Unit code CAHE24402
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 2
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Classics, Ancient History & Egyptology
Available as a free choice unit? Yes

Overview

What is happiness and how can we achieve it? Can we ever be sure that we are doing the right thing? What difference does it make? The Greeks and Romans had some distinct and fascinating answers to these sorts of questions. Some of these answers may seem appealing or familiar; some are rather stranger and more provocative. This course unit introduces some of the different ways in which Greek and Roman philosophers and literary authors identify, connect and reflect on the nature and possibility of happiness and virtue. We will also consider and compare perspectives from other ancient cultures. By studying such ideas, students will get to grips with questions about the value of pleasure, virtue, friendship, and understanding for a good and fulfilling life.

Aims

This course aims to

  • introduce students to a substantial range of Greek and Roman perspectives on happiness and virtue
  • 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.

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to

  • give an account of central philosophical and literary discussions of happiness and virtue, pointing to relevant textual evidence and explaining problematic aspects of their interpretation
  • discuss the relation between different positions and indicate its possible significance
  • assess the value of ethical arguments and accounts
  • demonstrate achievement of these objectives by producing clear, focussed oral and written expositions

 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to

  • construct and argument in oral and written form
  • pose and attempt to answer questions about complex issues
  • assimilate and summarize large quantities of evidence
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources;
  • engage in constructive and collaborative 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 summarize large quantities of evidence
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources
  • develop an effective poster presentation
  • conduct bibliographical sources
  • engage in constructive and collaborative (philosophical) discussion

 

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to

  • construct and argument in written and oral form
  • pose and attempt to answer questions about complex issues
  • assimilate and summarize large quantities of evidence
  • present the results in a professional manner with appropriate reference to sources and modern published scholarship
  • manage time and resources
  • develop and effective poster presentation

 

Employability skills

Other
By the end of this course students will be able to ¿ analyse and examine large amounts of 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 constructive discussion ¿ develop an effective poster presentation

Assessment methods

Analysis of argument 0%
Poster Presentation 40%
Exam 60%

 

Feedback methods

Feedback method

Formative or Summative

Oral feedback

Formative

Written feedback

Formative and summative

Examination marking

Summative

 

Recommended reading

  • Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on ‘Ancient Ethical Theory’: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-ancient/
  • C. Bobonich (ed.) (2017) The Cambridge Companion to Ancient Ethics, Cambridge
  • M. Nussbaum (1994) The Therapy of Desire, Princeton
  • J. Cooper (2012) Pursuits of Wisdom. Six Ways of Life in Ancient Philosophy from Socrates to Aquinas, Princeton
  • Susan Sauvé Meyer (2004) Ancient Ethics. A critical introduction, Oxford
  • T. Irwin (2007) Development of Ethics, Vol. 1, Oxford.

 

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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