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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

CLAS3710 Plato on Love

20 creditsClass Size: 24

Module manager: Dr Elizabeth 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. understand and demonstrate coherent and detailed subject knowledge of Plato’s dialogues on love (Symposium and Phaedrus), informed by current research/scholarship in the discipline
2. demonstrate a conceptual understanding which enables the development and sustaining of an argument;
3. describe and comment on particular aspects of current research and/or scholarship;
4. - appreciate the uncertainty, ambiguity and limitations of knowledge in the field of interpreting Plato’s thought
5. - make appropriate use of scholarly literature and primary sources;
6. - undertake independent study into a chosen essay topic on Plato’s theory of love.

Transferable (key) skills:
Students will have had the opportunity to acquire through this module:
- the exercise of initiative and personal responsibility;
- the deployment of decision-making skills in complex and unpredictable situations;
- 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

RReading 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 each): 57 hours
preparing for seminars (3 hours each): 18 hours
Reading Plato's two dialogues and keeping weekly Reading Diary (Semester 1): 30 hours
Writing Reflective report on Reading Diary (Semester 1 assessment): 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 of the first summative assessment, “Plato Reading Diary with Reflection”
End of Semester 1, formative feedback on the assessed ‘Reflection’ report of “Plato Reading Diary with Reflection” (40%).
Semester 2, week 8 formative feedback on essay plan and bibliography for the second summative assessment, the essay (60%) at the end of the module.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words60.00
Reflective log2.000 words40.00
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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