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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of History, Classics and Archaeology : Ancient History

Undergraduate Course: Political Thought and Practice in the Greek City (ANHI10060)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of History, Classics and Archaeology CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course considers the wide range of ideas about politics which were advocated and debated by citizens of Classical Greek cities. It seeks to examine the connections in different directions between Greek political thinking at different levels and in different contexts: for example, philosophical discussions, assembly debates, the law-courts, the theatre and the family. It pursues this aim by giving students the chance to study the political philosophies of leading intellectuals, especially Plato and Aristotle, alongside the evidence for political ideas, assumptions and practices in speeches, historical works, poetry and inscribed laws, decrees and private monuments. These sources are examined as evidence for multiple, competing ideas of justice, equality, freedom, virtue,
community, friendship, education and utopia. The overall aim is to allow students to develop a complex, dynamic picture of debates and disagreements about the nature of the good city and the good citizen in Classical Greece.

The focus is on Classical Athens, but other cities feature where evidence permits. The course reflects the course organiser's research interests in Greek political and ethical ideas, and in the relationships between philosophers' and non-philosophers' approaches.

Course description Most of the classes will address a particular theme or themes and compare and contrast what Greek philosophers, orators, historians, poets and other citizens said or implied about it or them, looking for signs of debate and disagreement. A possible programme is the following:
1. Introduction: Classical Greek political thinking at different levels, and the evidence for it.
2. What is a polis? What is politics?
3. Democracy and oligarchy.
4. Are certain political values immutable? Nomos and physis.
5. What is human nature? How does it relate to politics? Utopianism and realism.
6. The relation between individual, family, household and polis.
7. Civic education, civic virtue and public honours.
8. Justice and equality.
9. Property, the economy and funding civic life.
10. Stasis and how to prevent it.
11. Politics beyond the polis: inter-polis relations, federalism and cosmopolitanism.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites It is RECOMMENDED that students have passed Ancient History 2a: Past and Present in the Ancient World (ANHI08014) AND Ancient History 2b: Themes and Theories in Ancient History (ANHI08013)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Passes in Ancient History 2A and Ancient History 2B are recommended, or at the Course Organiser's discretion.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should usually have at least 3 courses in Classics related subject matter(at least 2 of which should be in Ancient History) at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this) for entry to this course. We will only consider University/College level courses.
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
By the end of the course, students who complete the course successfully will have demonstrated knowledge and understanding of:

i. a variety of important evidence for the study of Greek political thought and practice, and the problems and opportunities that evidence presents for the historian;
ii. the different possible relationships between political thinking at different levels, especially high theory and practical political rhetoric, and the difficulties in studying and interpreting them in relation to ancient Greece or any other society;
iii. the connections between political thinking and other aspects of ancient Greek society, including political practice, law, economics, social life and literature;
iv. more general questions about the role of ideas in politics, including the role of ancient ideas in ancient and modern politics, and possible answers to them;

In similar fashion, they will demonstrate skill and expertise in:
v. undertaking independent research in ancient sources and modern works, and analysing independently the wide-ranging information relating to the study of Greek political thought and practice found in them;
vi. reflecting in a critical way about ancient Greek and modern political assumptions and ideas, and their foundations, through independent reflection and through participation in class debates;
vii. accessing, understanding, and employing the standard conventions in the field, from publisher's conventions (e.g. bibliographical styles, referencing systems) to scholarly conventions in the study of evidence pertaining to ancient Greek politics (e.g. epigraphic abbreviations).

Students will have the opportunity to demonstrate that they have achieved these intended learning outcomes through their participation in class discussion, the giving of class presentations and their assessed coursework essays and exams. The essay questions for coursework and exams will require them to demonstrate substantial knowledge of ancient Greek political debates, and to write well-structured, well-argued and rigorous essays which reveal the ability to interpret critically relevant evidence and ancient and modern arguments. Coursework essays will require students to display skills in referencing ancient and modern sources.
Reading List
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills In addition to the intended learning outcomes described above, students will also demonstrate a number of transferable skills, such as

* the ability to read large quantities of text and to identify the most important passages and arguments;
* general analytical skills;
* written and verbal communication skills;
* oral presentation and discussion skills.
Special Arrangements In order for a student from outwith Classics to be enrolled on this course, contact must be made with a Course Secretary on 50 3580/3582 in order for approval to be obtained.
KeywordsPolitical Thought Ancient Greek
Course organiserDr Benjamin Gray
Tel: (0131 6)50 3473
Course secretaryMs Elaine Hutchison
Tel: (0131 6)50 3582
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