BASS Social Anthropology and Philosophy / Course details

Year of entry: 2024

Course unit details:
Ancient Greek Philosophy

Course unit fact file
Unit code PHIL10122
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 1
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


In this course, we will explore the origins of Western philosophy by examining the thoughts and ideas of ancient Greek thinkers. In the first part of the course, the main ideas and theories of pre-Socratic philosophers regarding the natures of reality, soul, and knowledge will be discussed. During the next two parts of the course, the main ideas of Plato and Aristotle will be discussed in more detail. Through analysis of some of their major works, we will examine their views on some of the most important issues in metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. Most of the reading materials of the course are from primary sources whose translations are available in English.


The course unit aims to:

  • acquaint students with the historical origins of Western philosophy.
  • introduce students to major schools, figures, and texts of ancient Greek philosophy.
  • introduce students to major theories and ideas of ancient Greek philosophy, particularly through the works of Plato and Aristotle.
  • improve students’ skills in analysing philosophical texts, reconstructing their main arguments, and writing expository essays about them.
  • gives students the opportunity to engage with the main texts of Greek philosophy (available in English translation).

Learning outcomes

On completion of this course, students should be able to:

  • demonstrate knowledge of the central issues and main ideas and theories of ancient Greek philosophies.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the most important pre-Socratic theories about the nature of reality, foundations of being, the nature and limits of knowledge, and human nature.
  • explain and critically assess the differences between the views of Plato and Aristotle regarding the ontology of objects, the nature of knowledge, and the concepts of morality and good/happy life.
  • analyse and critically assess the ideas and arguments of passages from the main texts of ancient Greek philosophy.

Teaching and learning methods

There will be a mixture of lectures and tutorials.

Please note the information in scheduled activity hours are only a guidance and may change.

Assessment methods

Method Weight
Written exam 67%
Written assignment (inc essay) 33%

Feedback methods

The School of Social Sciences (SoSS) is committed to providing timely and appropriate feedback to students on their academic progress and achievement, thereby enabling students to reflect on their progress and plan their academic and skills development effectively. Students are reminded that feedback is necessarily responsive: only when a student has done a certain amount of work and approaches us with it at the appropriate fora is it possible for us to feed back on the student’s work. The main forms of feedback on this course are written feedback responses to assessed essays and exam answers.

We also draw your attention to the variety of generic forms of feedback available to you on this as on all SoSS courses. These include: meeting the lecturer/tutor during their office hours; e-mailing questions to the lecturer/tutor; asking questions from the lecturer (before and after lecture); presenting a question on the discussion board on Blackboard; and obtaining feedback from your peers during tutorials.

Recommended reading

  • Cohen, S. Mare, Patricia Curd, and C. D. C. Reeve, 2016, Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle, 5th ed., Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.
  • Adamson, Peter, 2014, Classical Philosophy: A History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Inwood, Brad and Llyod P. Gerson, 1997, Hellenistic Philosophy: Introductory Readings, 2nd ed., Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co.
  • Shields, Christopher, 2012, Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, New York: Routledge.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20
Tutorials 10
Independent study hours
Independent study 170

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Mohammad Saleh Zarepour Unit coordinator

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