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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS2710 Plato on Love

20 creditsClass Size: 12

Module manager: Dr E E Pender

Taught: Semesters 1 & 2 (Sep to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

What does Plato contribute to the age-long attempt to understand the experience of love? Two Platonic dialogues have love as their central theme: Symposium and Phaedrus. The scene is Athens. In the Symposium we join a celebratory drinking party and in Phaedrus a walk in the countryside. These beautifully-written dialogues consider love from many different perspectives and reveal Plato’s own enduring passions for Socrates, for debate and for truth. We shall consider the concept of love within Plato’s philosophy, assess Plato’s influence on the history of thought on love and debate contemporary challenges to his ideas arising from our own cultural viewpoints.


On completion of this module, students will be able to understand Plato's views on love, as expressed in the Symposium and Phaedrus; the hermeneutical issues of the dialogue form; how Plato's views on love reflect his classical cultural context, especially in the areas of ancient Greek homosexuality, honour and shame; and how Plato's language of love echoes earlier ancient Greek poetry.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module students should have provided evidence of being able to:
1. - engage in advanced literary and philosophical study of Plato’s Symposium and Phaedrus
2. - effectively communicate information, arguments and analysis in a variety of forms;
3.- demonstrate a broad understanding of the concepts, information, practical competencies and techniques which are standard features in interpreting Platonic dialogues.
4. - apply generic and subject specific intellectual qualities to standard situations outside the context in which they were originally studied in order to interpret Plato’s thought
5. - use a range of techniques to initiate and undertake the analysis of Plato’s works, including appropriate use of primary sources and scholarly literature
6. - undertake independent study into a chosen essay topic on Plato’s theory of love.

Students will have had the opportunity to acquire through this module, to an extent commensurate with the level of study the following skills:

- the exercising of personal responsibility and decision making;
- the communication of information, ideas, problems and solutions in a variety of ways;
- independence of thought;
- capacity for critical reflection;
- capacity for critical judgement;
- ability to gather, memorise, organise and deploy information;
- ability to engage in analytical and evaluative thinking;
- ability to marshal argument;
- ability to present material in written form.


Introductory lecture (1) on Plato as author and the genre of the dialogue form; 9 lectures on the text of Symposium + 9 lectures on the text of Phaedrus; 6 seminars on Plato’s accounts of: soul, truth, beauty, creativity and love.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours175.00
Total Contact hours25.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Reading of the two primary texts – both Platonic texts need to be read first for the semester 1 assessment and second for the semester 2 assessment.
Reading of secondary, critical literature on Plato and his ideas on love.
In semester 1, a weekly diary of reading (primary texts only) and logging personal responses to each of the sections of the two books. A recommended reading schedule of sections per week will be provided. Seminars will set limited secondary reading with the emphasis on student responses and reactions.
In semester 2, the weekly reading switches fully to secondary literature as preparation for lectures, seminars and the formal essay.
Hours breakdown:
preparing for lectures (3 hours for each): 57 hours
preparing for seminars (3 hours for each): 18 hours
Reading Plato's two dialogues and keeping weekly Reading Diary (Semester 1): 30 hours
Preparing for the in-class test (Semester 1): 10 hours
preparing final essay, including reading critical works (Semester 2): 60 hours
total: 175 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Semester 1, week 8 formative feedback on the developing reading diary component which underpins the first summative assessment, “Test on Content” (30%) in week 9.
Semester 2, week 8 formative feedback on essay plan and bibliography for the second summative assessment, the essay (70%) at the end of the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay2500 words70.00
In-course Assessmentin-class test30.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 28/04/2023 14:37:49


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