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Unit information: History of Thought in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name History of Thought
Unit code CLAS22366
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Lampe
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Classics & Ancient History
Faculty Faculty of Arts


This unit introduces students to several foundational traditions of thought in Greek and Roman philosophy. Authors or movements covered may include the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Stoicism, and Epicureanism. Among its themes will be the nature of reality, its relation to human thought and language, the purpose of life, and the way to happiness.

Unit aims:

To introduce students to some of the most influential thinkers of Greek and Roman antiquity, both in their own time and ours; to develop students’ sophistication and enjoyment in discussing themes of enduring interest.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, all students should:

  • Have read and analysed a number of classical texts important in the history of thought
  • Have become familiar with a range of modes of thought developed in the classical period which remain important in the modern world
  • Have engaged with a number of important issues concerning the production, transrnission and reception of ancient modes of knowledge and thought
  • Have had the opportunity to develop their skills in oral cornmunication

(through discussion and questions) and in written communication (through essay work and examinations)

  • In addition, second year stUdents will be expected to have developed more sophisticated analytical skills, as demonstrated in their formal assessment and in their participation in class discussions.

Teaching details

Lectures, but with the use of small-group work for discussion and of informal presentations by students.

Assessment Details

One continuous assessment essay (Level 1: 2000 words, Level 2: 2500words): 50 marks

One written examination of 90 minutes, consisting of:

(a) Comment on two out of four passages (2 x 15 marks)

(b) Write on one out of four essays (20 marks)

Total: 50 marks

Reading and References

Brennan, Tad. 2005. The Stoic Life (Oxford: Oxford UP).

Hadot, P. 2005. What is Ancient Philosophy? trans. by Michael Chase (Harvard: Belknap)

Leonard, Miriam. 2008. How to Read Ancient Philosophy (London: Granta).

Warren, James. 2009. The Cambridge Companion to Epicureanism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP)