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BA Classics / Course details

Year of entry: 2021

Course unit details:
Finding Happiness in the Ancient World

Unit code CAHE34402
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
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

  • demonstrate an understanding of central philosophical and literary discussions of happiness and virtue, and evaluate a variety of interpretations and criticisms against relevant textual evidence
  • understand the relation between different positions and indicate its possible significance
  • assess and critique the value of ethical arguments and accounts
  • demonstrate achievement of these objectives by producing clear, focussed oral and written expositions and criticisms

 

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to

  • construct a coherent and fluent argument in oral and written form
  • pose and attempt to answer complex questions about complex issues
  • assimilate and summarize large quantities of evidence
  • locate and retrieve relevant information from primary sources and secondary literature;
  • engage in constructive, collaborative and sustained 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 and secondary literature
  • develop an effective poster presentation
  • conduct advanced bibliographical sources
  • engage in constructive, collaborative 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 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 an effective presentation

 

Assessment methods

Analysis of argument 0%
Essay 50%
Exam 50%

 

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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