Plato and the Good Life module (PI11006)

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Module code


  • Level 1
  • Semester 1
  • Philosophy - School of Humanities
  • Coursework 100%
  • Wednesday Evening Tutorial Available


This module introduces philosophy through the works of Plato and by asking the question: what is the good life? This question and Plato's answers to it are among the most enduring themes in the Western tradition of thought. We address it on this module by reading, understanding, and critically discussing Plato's dialogues and a range of later philosophical approaches.

Students will be introduced to a variety of philosophical texts and methods focused on "the good life". A close reading of selections from Plato's dialogues will help students to understand Plato's most important ideas about life and death, appearance and reality, and the Good, along with other themes from Platonic philosophy. The module will subsequently introduce students to a range of later readings responding to the question of the good life, including major thinkers and schools in Ancient philosophy such as Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoics, as well as contemporary thinkers on the issue of how the good life might be possible even if we believe that life is meaningless or absurd (Albert Camus and Thomas Nagel).

Students will be exposed to a range of philosophical methods and approaches, from Platonic dialogue to recent essays, and will be introduced to key skills in philosophical reading and critical assessment.


Dr Ashley Woodward

Teaching staff

Dr Ashley Woodward


This module consists of 22 hours of lectures and 11 hours of tutorials over 11 weeks (33 hours in total).

Students are expected to participate in tutorial discussion and to undertake formative and summative exercises as set out in the module guide.


This module is assessed 100% by coursework, as follows:

  • Worksheet 20%
  • Essay 80%


Indicative Reading


  • Plato., Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, trans. G.M.A. Grube (Hackett Publishing, 2002)
  • Plato., Republic. (Hackett, 1992)
  • Nietzsche., Twilight of the Idols, or how to Philosophize with a Hammer, The Anti-Christ, trans R. Hollingdale (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1990)

For those new to Plato, we also strongly recommend:

  • Julia Annas, Plato: a Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2003)

The Good Life:

  • Pierre Hadot, What is Ancient Philosophy? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004)
  • David E. Cooper., (ed.), Ethics: The Classic Readings. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1997)
  • Peter Singer., (ed.), A companion to ethics. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993)
  • Hugh LaFollette., (ed.), The Blackwell guide to ethical theory. (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000)

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This module is available on following courses: