Plato and the Good Life module (PI11006)

Explore philosophy through the works of Plato and discuss the question: 'What does it mean to live a good life?'

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Module code


This module introduces philosophy through the works of Plato and by asking the question: 'What does it mean to live a good life?' Other related questions include: 'How can we get the most out of our lives?' 'What is best able to make us happy?' and 'What kind of ethical principles should we live by?' These questions and Plato's answers to them are the most enduring themes in philosophy, as well as some of most important questions we can ask ourselves.

This module addresses such questions by reading, understanding, and critically discussing Plato's dialogues and a range of later philosophical approaches to ethics. This module gives a basic primer to philosophy by beginning with ancient philosophy, but with an eye to the continuing contemporary relevance of such ideas.

What you will learn

In this module, you will:

  • study Plato through his dialogue, the Symposium, with the question: 'What is love?'
  • study central concepts and methods in the philosophy of Plato, including life and death, love, appearance and reality, and the Good
  • study a range of later readings responding to the question of the good life, e.g. Aristotle, Epicurus, the Stoics, and the 20th century philosophers of the Absurd
  • develop a critical understanding of basic philosophical ideas and theories
  • develop the ability to read and engage critically with philosophical texts
  • develop the capacity to articulate your own positions and arguments, both through discussion and in writing

By the end of this module, you will be able to:

  • discuss key texts of Plato
  • connect and contrast the ideas of Plato to those of later philosophers
  • demonstrate skills in critical reading, thinking, evaluation, and argumentation
  • apply ideas from ancient philosophy to contemporary problems and issues

Assignments / assessment:

  • worksheet (20%)
  • essay (80%)

This module does not have a final exam.

Teaching methods / timetable:

  • lectures
    • 22 contact hours
  • tutorials
    • 11 contact hours
    • you will take an active role in your learning through participating in tutorial discussion on topics presented in lectures and readings


This module is available on following courses: