Triangle

Course overview

Explore the civilisations that gave birth to the thinking of Aristotle and Cicero, and the philosophies they were fundamental in developing.

Classical Civilisation

You'll discover Ancient Greece and Rome through their:

  • political and social structures
  • art and visual culture
  • religion and social life

Take the opportunity to learn ancient Greek and/or Latin. Both complete beginners and established learners welcome.

Philosophy

You'll cover the traditional areas of ethics, reasoning and logic. And see how these feed into contemporary interests such as social philosophy and environmental ethics.

You'll also be able contrast with non-Western philosophical traditions as they developed in India and China.

Different subjects - complementary themes

No previous knowledge of either subject is needed. Our first year gives everyone a common standard of knowledge and skills. Later years provide options to explore widely. You can pick individual topics that grab your attention or follow a theme that complements both subjects, such as:

  • what it meant to be a man in Greece and Rome and how gender operates in today's society
  • Greek and Roman painting and the philosophy of art

Your departments

This course is a collaboration between two departments. Find out more about what it’s like to study in the:

Why choose this course?

  • An ideal degree for people interested in both how the past worked and the shape of the future
  • No compulsory modules after the first year - build a degree that suits your interests
  • Innovative communication modules in both Philosophy and Classical Civilisation
  • Use both subjects to develop a broad range of professional skills for research, analysis and presentations
  • Work experience opportunities to enhance your CV
  • Option to study abroad - experience living and learning in a different culture

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2022 entry.

UK entry requirements
A level ABB
Required subjects

No existing knowledge of Greek or Latin required.

IB score 32

Extended Project Qualification (EPQ)

If you have already achieved your EPQ at grade A you will automatically be offered one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject.

If you are still studying for your EPQ you will receive the standard course offer, with a condition of one grade lower in a non-mandatory A level subject if you achieve an A grade in your EPQ.

Foundation progression options

If you have faced educational barriers and are predicted BCC at A Level, you may be eligible for our Foundation Year. You may progress to a range of direct entry degrees in the arts and humanities.

Learning and assessment

How you will learn

Each subject brings their own methods and approaches to teaching.

Different types of philosophy suit different methods of teaching. You might get involved in small-group study of texts or learn alternative styles of presentation - from press releases to legal briefs.

We also encourage you to produce novel resources to communicate your knowledge of ancient Greece and Rome. You might develop a database, construct a museum exhibit or develop a teaching plan and test it in a local school.

Teaching quality and support

Both departments work hard at their teaching to give you the best quality learning. For example:

If you have worries abut your work we won't wait for them to become problems. You'll have a personal tutor from Philosophy who will support your academic progress and help find solutions to any issues. You'll also have Joint Honours advisor from Classics and Archaeology.

Peer mentoring

All new undergraduate students are allocated a peer mentor, to help you settle into life at Nottingham. Find out more about the support on offer.

Teaching methods

  • Lectures
  • Seminars
  • Tutorials
  • Placements
  • Workshops
  • Field trips
  • Practical classes

How you will be assessed

A combination of essays and exams are the norm for most modules. Weekly reading summaries, presentations and online quizzes and tests may also be used by individual lecturers.

Assessment methods

  • Commentary
  • Dissertation
  • Essay
  • In-class test
  • Portfolio (written/digital)
  • Presentation
  • Reflective review
  • Written exam

Contact time and study hours

The minimum scheduled contact time you will have is:

  • Year one - 12 hours
  • Year two - 10 hours
  • Year three - 8 hours

Your lecturers will also be available outside this scheduled contact time to discuss issues and develop your understanding.

As well as your timetabled sessions you’ll carry out extensive self-study. This will include course reading and seminar preparation. As a guide 20 credits (a typical module) is about 200 hours of work (combined teaching and self-study).

Class sizes vary depending on topic and type. A popular lecture can have up to 200 students attending while a specialised seminar may only contain 10 students.

Your lecturers will usually be from our academic staff in Classics and Archaeology and Philosophy, many of whom are internationally recognised in their fields.

Study abroad

Nottingham's a global university so we support a range of opportunities for you to study abroad.

In the past five years over 1500 of our students have benefitted from living and learning in a different culture. And boosted their CVs for prospective employers.

You've a range of options - from short summer schools, a single semester to a whole year abroad.

We have a dedicated team to help you with the practicalities and many opportunities mean you pay reduced fees.

If you need support for your language skills before you go our Language Centre will have resources to help.

Explore your study abroad opportunities

Placements

Become 'workplace-ready' with our Work Placement module. It helps you develop the skills and experience that helps you stand out to potential employers.

Volunteer with our schools' projects and develop classroom and team working experience:

You will also have access to a range of work experience and volunteering schemes through the:

Why study two subjects?

The benefits of doing a joint honours degree.

Modules

We know everyone comes from a variety of backgrounds and experiences so our first year:

  • ensures you have the necessary skills and knowledge to thrive
  • is designed to help you connect to and build relationships with your fellow students

The first year is split equally between core and optional modules.

The core modules (60 credits) cover key concepts and skills that underpin later specialisation.

Your optional modules (60 credits) allow you to deepen your existing interests or explore new topics. You also have the choice to start learning Greek and/or Latin.

You must pass year one but it does not count towards your final degree classification.

Core philosophy modules

Reasoning, Argument, and Logic

Ideas are at the heart of philosophy. Creating them, arguing your case and defending your thinking is a core skill. Equally, being able to interrogate other people's arguments is essential.

The knowledge, skills and tools to do this can be learnt. And that's what we'll do together in this module. We'll help you to:

  • understand the nature and structure of arguments
  • acquire critical tools for assessing the arguments of others
  • improve your ability to present your own reasoning in a clear and rigorous manner, particularly in essays

Philosophy isn't just about opinions and arguments. It's also about clear proof. So we'll also develop some knowledge of logic and its technical vocabulary.

As a core first year module it will help you develop some of the key skills you need to philosophise with confidence.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Mind, Knowledge, and Ethics

This is your main starting point to explore philosophical thinking about understanding ourselves and relationship with the world.

It introduces several different areas of philosophy, and the links between them. These include:

  • philosophy of the mind
  • perception
  • epistemology
  • agency
  • normative ethics
  • meta-ethics

Some of the key issues we'll look at include:

  • the relationship between mind and body
  • free will
  • moral scepticism and relativism
  • the nature of moral judgements

We know our students come with a wide range of philosophical knowledge and skills so this core first-year module helps develop a common level of:

  • understanding of philosophical terms and concepts
  • skills in argument and debate

This gives you the building blocks for successful study and philosophising in the rest of your degree.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Optional philosophy modules

Metaphysics, Science, and Language

Come and explore some fundamental thinking about the world around us and our knowledge of it.

You'll look at questions such as:

  • metaphysics – how should we think about the identity of things over time and through change? What does your personal identity over time consist in?
  • philosophy of science – is science the guide to all of reality? Is there a scientific method?
  • philosophy of language – what is truth? Is truth relative? Does language create reality?

An ideal introduction to metaphysics, epistemology, the philosophy of science, and the philosophy of language.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Philosophy of Religions

All religions have a distinctive philosophical framework. Together we'll look at some of the common concerns such as:

  • the variety of conceptions of ultimate reality
  • goals for the spiritual life
  • the nature of religious experience
  • the relations of religion and morality
  • explanations of suffering and evil
  • human nature and continuing existence after death

As there is such a range of beliefs we'll also look at the problems of religious diversity.

Some of the sources we draw on might include (but is not limited to):

  • atheists - Feuerbach, Nietzsche
  • Buddhists - Śāntideva, Dōgen, Thich Nhat Hanh
  • Christians - Augustine, Pascal, Weil
  • Hindus - such as the writers of the Upanisads and Shankara
  • Jews - Spinoza, Buber
  • Muslims - Mulla Sadra, Nasr
  • Taoists - Zhuangzi

More contemporary thinkers might also be included.

With such a wide range of issues and traditions the exact mix will vary - each year will focus on a few key thinkers and themes.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Philosophy and the Contemporary World

Philosophy can teach us to ask hard questions and help change the world for the better. 

We'll help you develop the skills to critically understand and constructively engage with a wide range of contemporary issues. Together we'll tackle topics relevant to university life and wider society. You should finish the module with a greater understanding of:

  • the value of philosophical thinking in relation to the contemporary world
  • using key philosophical arguments, concepts and methods in everyday contexts

Possible topics we'll look at

  • What is the purpose of education?
  • Why value free speech?
  • Censorship and pornography
  • Race and Racism
  • Sexual identities
  • Disability
  • Implicit bias
  • People, animals and the environment
  • Migration and refugees
  • Drugs and sport
  • Ethics and artificial intelligence
  • Mental illness

This module is worth 20 credits.

History of Philosophy

Philosophy develops, confronts and destroys previous thinking. It reinforces the status quo and acts as a foundation for revolution. It's a product of its time and helps to shape the future.

Together we'll become familiar with some of the main philosophical ideas and thinkers that have shaped philosophy. And you'll come to understand how and why these ideas arose and developed in response to wider contexts and movements.

Influential thinkers might include:

  • Plato and Aristotle
  • Ibn-Tufayl and Ibn-Rushd
  • Montaigne, Locke and Wollstonecraft
  • Marx and Gandhi
  • Fanon, Sartre and de Beauvoir
  • Murdoch

Particular topics might include:

  • ancient Greek conceptions of the good life
  • reason and tradition in classical Islamic philosophy
  • medieval philosophy
  • existentialism
  • Afro-Caribbean philosophy

You won't be taught whether any of these thinkers and thoughts were right. But by the end of the module you'll be able to recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on both sides of each philosophical issue.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Gender, Justice, and Society
  • What is institutional racism?
  • What do feminists mean when they say, 'The personal is political'?
  • Are borders unjust?
  • Are direct action and criminal damage legitimate forms of protest?

These are just some of the questions you'll think about on this module.

We'll take a critical look at some of the answers given by thinkers across the political spectrum, from right-wing libertarians like Robert Nozick to socialist anarchists like Emma Goldman.

We'll also look at some of the political contexts in which these questions have been asked and answered. This might include the:

  • Peterloo Massacre
  • civil rights movement
  • invention of the police
  • Paris Commune of 1871
  • Black Lives Matter and Youth Strike4Climate movements

This module is worth 20 credits.

Core classics modules

Studying the Greek World

Gain a wide-ranging interdisciplinary introduction to the history, literature and culture of the ancient Greek World. Covering from c.1600-31 BC, you will explore Greek history from the Mycenaean period to the coming of Rome.

You will:

  • Examine the major topics in Greek history – from the Mycenaean Period and the Dark Ages, through the rise of the polis in the Archaic period, to the height of Greek civilisation in the Classical and Hellenistic periods, and finally its conquest by the Roman Empire
  • Explore primary evidence from Greek literary and material culture
  • Consider the relationship between ancient Greece and the modern world

This module is followed by the Studying the Roman World module, in the spring semester. No prior knowledge of Greek history or Greek language is needed.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Studying the Roman World

This module gives a wide-ranging interdisciplinary introduction to the history, literature and art of the Roman world. We will explore from the beginnings of the city of Rome, to the fall of the Roman Empire in the West.

You will:

  • examine the major chapters of Rome's history – such as the Roman Republic, the rise of the empire, the establishment of the Principate, and the fall of Rome
  • discover coinciding developments in Roman literary and artistic culture
  • consider the reception of ancient Rome in modern western culture

We will also examine the relationship of the Roman world to the Greek world. This will complement the autumn semester module, Studying the Greek World, by continuing training in a number of basic study skills. No prior knowledge of the Roman world is needed.

This module is worth 10 credits.

Optional classics modules

Interpreting Ancient History

This year-long module is devoted to the history of the ancient world. You will investigate some of its key themes and approaches through a series of historical case studies, covering major periods of Greek and Roman history.

You will explore:

  • What do we know (and not know) about the ancient world?
  • How do ancient politics, society, culture and morality differ from our own?
  • What evidence informs us about the ancient world? What are its limits and pitfalls?
  • How do modern concerns influence academic debates about the ancient world, and the views of individual scholars?
  • How far can we hope to know ‘how things really were’ in the ancient world?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Interpreting Ancient Literature

This module will introduce you to the interpretation of ancient literary texts (in translation) as sources for ancient culture, by focusing on a representative range of texts and themes.

We will address issues such as:

  • ancient performance-contexts and audiences
  • the workings of genres
  • analysis of rhetoric and literary style
  • representations of gender and sexuality
  • study of classical reception
  • how to compare translations

The autumn semester will focus on Greek texts, and the spring semester will focus on Latin texts.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Interpreting Ancient Art and Archaeology

Explore Greek and Roman art, from the Bronze Age to the end of the Roman Empire (roughly 1600 BC to AD 400). We will consider classic sites and monuments that are among the great lasting achievements of mankind, including the Parthenon, Trajan’s Column and the statue of Augustus of Prima Porta.

You will learn how to look at works of art and artefacts from the ancient world. This includes how to describe, explain and analyse them. As a result, you will unlock the meanings of these images and monuments for the people who made, commissioned and looked at them.

You will build a thorough understanding of the key contexts and media of ancient art and archaeology. This includes:

  • sculpture
  • vase-painting
  • coins
  • mosaics
  • architecture and urban structures

We will cover the Greek world in the autumn semester, and the Roman world in the spring semester. Rather than working chronologically, the material on this module is organised by media and contexts (topography, sculpture, vase painting, temples, tombs, houses etc.) This gives you a grasp of formal and stylistic developments within each of these media through the centuries, helping you understand their meanings in their original contexts.

This module is worth 20 credits.

"'Interpreting Ancient Art and Archaeology', which was a first-year module, is by far my favourite. You spend the first semester doing Greek art. You progress from the earliest Greek art, to when the Romans conquered them. Then in the spring semester, you do Roman art from beginning to the end and talk about all the different periods. It was interesting for me, as you got to do a presentation on a specific piece of art. It was really fun." - Hannah Parker, second-year Classical Civilisation

 

Greek and Roman Mythology

This module introduces the interpretation of ancient Greek and Roman myth, focussing on a representative range of texts and themes.

The module will be team-taught, exposing you to a wide range of material and approaches to the use of myth in the ancient world.

We will consider how mythology is used in:

  • ancient literature, such as epic and drama
  • historical texts
  • religious contexts
  • the material culture of the ancient world, such as statuary, paintings and sarcophagi

We will also introduce the variety of methodologies that scholars have used over the years, to help interpret and understand these myths and their usages.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners' Latin: 1

This module is for complete beginners to Latin.

It offers an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary and you will be supported to analyse and understand basic Latin sentences and short passages.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners' Greek: 1

This module is for complete beginners to Greek.

It offers an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary and you will be supported to analyse and translate passages adapted from classical Greek texts.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners' Latin: 2

This module continues from ‘Beginners’ Latin: 1’.

You will:

  • Continue to study the structure of the language
  • Develop your reading skills until you can read almost unadapted passages from Latin texts

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners' Greek: 2

This module continues from ‘Beginners’ Greek: 1’.

You will:

  • Continue to study the structure of the language
  • Develop your reading skills until you can read almost unadapted passages from classical Greek texts

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on Monday 17 May 2021.

You have a free choice of modules split equally between the two subjects (60 credits in each). Carry on with a particular topic or investigate something new as your interests develop.

If you want to do a Classical Civilisation dissertation in year three you'll need to take the Extended Source Study module this year.

Our Work Placement module allows you to develop valuable professional experience.

You must pass year two which counts one third towards your final degree classification.

Optional classics modules

Intermediate Latin: 1

This module continues the study of Latin from the level reached in Beginners' Latin 2. It provides the opportunity to revise basic aspects of the Latin language and enables students to proceed to the reading of Latin texts. The assessment-pattern emphasises comprehension and analysis of grammatical structures over memorisation and translation.

Intermediate Greek: 1

In this module you will study classical Greek from the level reached in Beginners Greek 2. This will complete instruction in the basic aspects of the Greek language and enables students to undertake the detailed linguistic and literary study of an unadapted Greek text, such a Lysias 1. 

Beginners Greek for second and third years: 1 and 2

This module is for complete beginners to Greek. It covers the same material as in ‘Beginners' Greek: 1’ and ‘Beginners Greek: 2’ and lets you take up the language at a later point in your degree.

Emphasis is placed on learning to read Greek. You will:

  • Get an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of classical Greek
  • Be supported to translate passages adapted from classical Greek texts

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners Latin for second and third years: 1 and 2

This module is for complete beginners to Latin. It covers the same material as in ‘Beginners Latin: 1’ and ‘Beginners Latin: 2’ and lets you take up the language at a later point in your degree.

You’ll get an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of Latin and you will be supported to analyse and understand basic Latin sentences and short passages.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Intermediate Latin: 2

This module is for students in their fourth semester of Latin. You will read a text such as Cicero Pro Archia or Virgil Aeneid 2 in some depth, and practise close reading of Latin literature, as well as continuing to revise and consolidate Latin grammar. 

Intermediate Greek: 2

This module continues the study of classical Greek from the level reached in Intermediate Greek 1. It continues with the study of Greek grammar and focuses on the reading of one or more classical Greek texts. 

Extended Source Study
This module is designed to develop your skills of research, analysis and written presentation as preparation for a third year dissertation in classical civilisation. You will write a 5,000 word essay chosen from a range of topics, each focusing on a single piece of ancient source material. You will be provided with a topic for investigation, starter bibliography and tips on how to approach the question. The questions will suggest a range of possible approaches, from evaluation of historical source material to exploration of literary effects, relationships with other material, discussion of context or reception. For this module you will have a mixture of lectures and four 2-hour seminars over a period of 10 weeks.
The Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian war lasted for more than 25 years. It came to involve much of the Greek world, as diverse states and peoples felt compelled to become allies of either Sparta or Athens. The scale of this struggle, and its repercussions, make it a highly significant period of Greek history.

You will answer key questions about this conflict, including:

  • Why and how did it start?
  • Why did it last so long?
  • How was it fought?
  • How was it won?
  • What were its consequences?

In particular, we will examine the disproportionate role that one man, the Athenian historian Thucydides, plays in shaping our knowledge and understanding of this conflict. How far can we use other authors and types of evidence to get beyond this hugely significant, but imperfect source?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Writing History in Ancient Rome

This module will examine the writing of narrative histories in ancient Rome and their importance in the study of Roman history, particularly in the late Republic and Imperial periods. The works of ancient historical writers differ significantly from modern historians in their approach to evidence, narrative, and impartiality, and we need to be aware of these differences when using these texts as sources. This module will therefore consider the importance of the works of historians like Livy, Tacitus, and Ammianus not only as sources for the study of history, but as literary works in their own right, examining issues of historical accuracy and reliability alongside generic conventions, narrative structures, and issues of characterisation. 

Religion and the Romans

Religion was central to all aspects of Roman life, but did the Romans really 'believe'?

This module explores the traditions and rituals that operated in Roman society, from the earliest stages of archaic Rome, to the advent of Christianity. It will help you to make sense of customs and practices that could baffle even the Romans themselves, alongside showing how the religious system controlled Roman social, political and military activities.

You will examine evidence drawn from the late Republic and early Principate, and use literature and images from the Augustan period as a central hinge for studying the dynamics of religion in Rome.

Topics covered include:

  • The definition of 'religion' and comparative studies
  • Early Rome and the origins of religion
  • The calendar temples and other religious buildings
  • Priesthoods and politics
  • Sacrifice
  • The deification of the emperor
  • Foreign cults in Rome
  • The supposed 'decline of religion'
  • Early Christianity

This module is worth 20 credits.

Communicating the Past

This module is your opportunity to expand your knowledge of an aspect of Classics or Archaeology which interests you, and to experiment with methods of communicating that knowledge which take you beyond the usual assessment practices of essays and exams. You might undertake research that leads to (for example) the creation of a museum exhibition, the reconstruction of an ancient artefact, or the design of a new public engagement strategy for a historic site. You might acquire experience of a communication method which could be of use to you in a future career, e.g. by constructing an education pack, writing in a journalistic style, or creating an archaeological site management plan. You might choose to experiment with a different medium of communication such as video, website or phone app. The topic and form of the project chosen must both be approved by the module convener. This module is ideal for any student who is interested in pursuing a career in heritage, museums or education, while developing skills in research, project design and communication are essential for a wide range of career choices as well as being excellent preparation for your third-year dissertation.

Studying Classical Scholarship

This module focuses on the history and development of the scholarship on ancient Greece and Rome and on specific theories, approaches and methods used by modern scholarship. The aim is to sharpen your engagement with and understanding of scholarship, and to give a deeper appreciation of the ways the ancient world has been appropriated. Studying the history of scholarship in its socio-political context will show you how the questions we ask depend on the situations we live in; it will also allow you to judge the merits and limitations of scholarly approaches and will develop your skills of research and analysis, as preparation for your third-year dissertation. As with the Extended Source Study, you will choose a work-sheet relating to an area of the ancient world which particularly interests you; the module is assessed by an oral presentation and a 4,500-5,000 word essay.

The World of the Etruscans

When Rome was still a small town, and before Athens became a city of international significance, the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean.

But who were the Etruscans? The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates, renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.

In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.

By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)

This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.

We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.

You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.

We will examine:

  • the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
  • the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
  • the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
  • the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire

You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions

This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.

The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:

  • The definitions of the Silk Roads
  • Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
  • Luxury production
  • Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
  • Ming Dynasty links with the West

Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Oedipus Through the Ages

You will explore the ancient evidence for the myth of Oedipus and selected representations of the myth in the post-Classical world. In terms of evidence, you will have the opportunity to explore ancient drama and other poetry as well as visual culture and mythographic writings. In terms of post-Classical representations, there will be a particular focus on performance and on modern popular culture, including (but not necessarily limited to)

  • film
  • popular mythology books,
  • material aimed at children,
  • on-line representations,
  • humour

Optional philosophy modules

Social Philosophy

This module addresses issues in social metaphysics and social epistemology. We will examine the metaphysics of social kinds and explore different accounts of social kinds that have been offered. We will also examine how the fact that we are situated in a social world can affect what we can or cannot know or understand about ourselves, each other, and the social world itself. We will also address ethical and/or political issues that arise once we take account of social metaphysics and social epistemology.

In particular, we might consider whether there are special kinds of injustices that arise due to our social reality. What is epistemic injustice and how does it relate to social injustice? How do certain privileged groups structure the social world that create and maintain privilege and patterns of ignorance that perpetuate that privilege? What are some obligations that we have, given metaphysical and epistemological concerns we have explored? 

The Nature of Meaning

The module begins with an exploration of various theories of naming, paying particular attention to the works of Frege, Russell (including the theory of descriptions), and Kripke. We then turn our attention to various puzzles concerning the nature of meaning, including the distinction between analytic and synthetic sentences.

In the final part of the module, we move on to a discussion of some of the mainstream theories of meaning; particularly, a truth-conditional semantics, and we explore how this might be developed to take into account indexical terms such as 'I', 'now', and 'here'. Some of the skills acquired in Elementary Logic will be applied in this module.

Freedom and Obligation
  • Are you obliged to obey the law even when you disagree with it?
  • What features must a state have in order to be legitimate?

In this module we will approach these classic questions of political philosophy by examining the work of a number of important past political philosophers. This might include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau but this isn't a fixed list - it may vary according to particular issues and student input.

We will look at both:

  • why the thinkers' works have been open to different interpretations
  • evaluate their arguments under these different interpretations

This module is worth 20 credits.

Mind and Consciousness

Where does the mind meet the world? In sensory perception.

By perceiving, we become conscious of a reality beyond our minds. Or do we?

Mind and Consciousness explores perception and perceptual consciousness.

It asks question such as:

  • Do we really perceive a world beyond our minds?
  • What are the theories of perception and perceptual consciousness?
  • How do we distinguish different senses – what makes seeing different from hearing?
  • Can our perceptions be biased? Do our prejudices change the way we see things?
  • Is dreaming perceiving, or does it belong to another category of mind like imagining?

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

  • understand the main positions in the philosophy of perception
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

Knowledge and Justification

This module explores contemporary treatments of issues pertaining to knowledge and the justification of belief. It addresses issues such as the following:

  • The structure of justification and its relation to one's mental states and evidence (foundationalism vs. coherentism; internalism vs.externalism; evidentialism)
  • The justification of induction; the notion of a priori justification
  • The relation between your evidence and what you know
  • The natures of perceptual experience and perceptual knowledge
  • Safety and contextualist theories of knowledge
  • Moore's response to scepticism
  • Testimonial knowledge, "virtue" epistemology and its relation to "reliabilist" epistemology
Normative Ethics

We all have opinions about moral matters. But for most of us, our moral opinions are not very well-organised. Indeed, upon reflection we may discover that some of our beliefs about morality are inconsistent.

Normative ethics is the branch of moral philosophy that attempts to systematize everyday judgements about the rightness and wrongness of actions.

It's a wide area of study and we'll focus on two traditions within it:

  • contractualism - which holds that the rightness and wrongness of acts depends on principles no one could reasonably reject
  • character ethics - which emphasises the relationship between right action and good and bad character

By the end you'll have a clear understanding of:

  • the aims and methodologies of involved
  • some of the main theories, such as consequentialism, deontology, contractualism and virtue ethics (and some of their influential variants)

You'll also be able to:

  • reason to a well thought-out position on various topics in ethics
  • develop your own views, drawing upon the sources on which the module focuses

This module is worth 20 credits.

Being, Becoming and Reality

We look at some fundamental metaphysical questions about the cosmos. A selection of the following topics will be studied:

  • Objects: concrete vs. abstract; existence and nothingness
  • Sets and mereology
  • Properties, Property bearers, Relations
  • States of affairs and non-mereological composition
  • Modality (including counterfactuals) and possible worlds
  • Time, persistence, change, and the non-present
Philosophy of Art
  • What is art?
  • Is there a relationship between art and ethics?
  • What is the relationship between art and emotion?

Together we'll explore these philosophical issues and more. By the end of the module you'll:

  • have a good awareness of many of the critical debates in the philosophy of art
  • recognise and judge for yourself the strengths and weaknesses of arguments on the issues

This module is worth 20 credits.

Topics in Asian Philosophy

We'll examine the Asian philosophical traditions, especially those of India, China, and Japan.

These Asian traditions address familiar philosophical themes - in ethics, epistemology, and aesthetics - but often approach them in ways that seem unfamiliar.

You may well find your culturally inherited presuppositions challenged. This is good! As global power relationships change understanding culture is vital to meaningful communication.

Topics we may cover include:

  • Confucianism, Mohism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Hinduism the relationship between morality and religion
  • etiquette, ethics and aesthetics
  • the family and moral life
  • social and political philoosophy
  • animals, natural environments, and human flourishing
  • the nature of ultimate reality and the good life
  • the relation of Asian philosophies to the Western tradition

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Ancient Greek Philosophy

This module explores some of the major thinkers, texts and themes of Ancient Greek philosophy. Ancient Greek philosophy stands at the beginning of the western philosophical tradition and western philosophy has been shaped by a sustained engagement with Ancient Greek thought in areas of philosophy, such as epistemology, metaphysics, ethics and political theory.

Topics and thinkers may include: Presocratic Philosophy; Heraclitus; Parmenides; the Sophistic movement; Plato and Platonism; Socrates and the Socratic Schools (Cynics, Cyrenaics and Megarics); Aristotle (ethics, political theory, natural philosophy, metaphysics); Epicurus and Epicureanism; Stoicism; Academic and Pyrrhonian Scepticism; Plotinus and Neoplatonism; Pythagoreansim. No knowledge of the Ancient Greek language is required.

Intermediate Logic

This module takes formal logic beyond the basics (as covered in first year Reasoning, Argument, and Logic). We’ll cover Propositional Logic, First-Order Logic, and Modal Logic (going into more detail where these were covered in first year).

We’ll learn about existence, identity, possibility, and necessity, and we’ll learn formal techniques for testing the validity of arguments. We’ll apply these logical techniques to help us make sense of challenging concepts and arguments in metaphysics and philosophy of language.

Continental Philosophy

This module will introduce the European tradition of philosophical thinking prevalent over the past two centuries. It will begin with an introduction to the influence of Kant and Hegel and recurrent characteristics of European thought, before turning to focus on representative texts by key thinkers.

Texts for more in- depth study might include, for example: Ludwig Feuerbach’s Principles of the Philosophy of the Future; Henri Bergson’s Creative Evolution; Friedrich Nietzsche’s Twilight of the Idols; Martin Heidegger’s Being and Time; Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition; and Luce Irigaray’s Speculum of the Other Woman.

Emphasis will be placed on the different images of thought at work in European philosophical texts, as well as on how differing approaches to metaphysics, ethics and politics are grounded in newly created perspectives.

An Introduction to Metaethics

Metaethics is about how ethics works. It's not about judging whether something is morally good or bad in any particular instance but critiquing the foundations used to make the judgements. Some of the questions we might ask are:

  • Are there moral facts?
  • What is moral truth?
  • Do psychopaths really understand moral language?

Like many areas of philosophy metaethics has several branches and by the end of this module you'll be able to:

  • understand the main positions in contemporary metaethics
  • analyse and evaluate rival views on these topics

This module is worth 20 credits.

For a good pre-module introduction to the subject have a read of chapter six of Ethics for A level by Mark Dimmock and Andrew Fisher. It's an open-source resource so free to access.

Philosophy of Science: From Positivism to Postmodernism

What is science? Is there a scientific method, and if so, what is it? Can science tell us what the world is really like? Is it the only way to know what the world is really like? Does science progress? What is a paradigm and when/how does it shift? Is science socially constructed? Can a sociological study of the practice of science tell us anything about the nature of science? Is science "value-neutral"? Should we save society from science? What are "the science wars" and who won?

These are some of the questions we will explore in this module. We will start with the positivism-empiricism of the early 20th century and culminate with the postmodernism-relativism of the late-20th century and its aftermath.

Readings will include seminal works by Ayer, Hempel, Popper, Kuhn, Lakatos, Feyeraband, Bloor, and Laudan. While we may consider various examples from the history of science, no background knowledge of science or logic (beyond elementary first-year logic) is presupposed. 

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

You again have a free choice of modules up to 120 credits. To allow you to specialise you can choose up to 80 credits in a particular subject.

If you opt to write a dissertation you can do this in either subject or combine both into a single piece of work.

If you've studied Greek or Latin in previous years you'll be able to take your study to an advanced level.

You must pass year three which counts two thirds towards your final degree classification.

Optional classics modules

Dissertation in Classics

The dissertation is your opportunity to carry out an in-depth investigation of a chosen area, to be agreed with a supervisor in advance. You will use the skills that your degree has equipped you with thus far to plan, research and complete a 10-12,000-word essay. There will be a mix of contact to achieve this, including workshops, lectures and one-to-one tutorials.

Augustus

The year-long Special Subject module allows you to intensively study one of the most influential figures in Roman history – Augustus.

We examine how, after his victory in the civil wars, Augustus established his rule over the Roman world on a secure and generally acceptable basis. You will pay attention to the ancient sources (studied in translation). These include not only historical and literary texts, but also inscriptions, coins, art and architecture.

This module covers political aspects of the theme, but also Augustus' impact on society, religion, culture, and ideology.

You will have three hours of seminars per week. Assessment is through a combination of coursework essays, formal presentation and exam.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Jason and the Golden Fleece

Jason and Medea, the quest for the golden fleece, the journey of the first ship, Greek civilisation meets Colchian barbarism: the myth that pre-dates Homer and brings together the famous fathers of Homeric heroes (Peleus, Telamon); the gathering of the marvellous, the semi-divine and the ultra-heroic; a quest that replaces war with love.

The central texts will be the Hellenistic Argonautica of Apollonius Rhodius and the Roman epic version of Valerius Flaccus, both read in translation, but a wide range of texts, images and films, Greek, Roman and beyond will be part of the module.

This module will explore:

  • How myth works in the ancient world
  • How representations in different media interact
  • When myth-making becomes reception
  • How the Greeks represent Greek culture and the barbarian other
  • How Roman literature re-appropriates and re-works Greek myth
  • How modern versions reflect on and construct the ancient world

Themes include: the Greeks and the other; civilisation and colonisation; Jason and Medea; gender and sexuality (the Lemnian women, Hercules and Hylas); the nature of heroism (Cyzicus and friendly fire); monsters, marvels and magic.

This module is worth 40 credits.

Greek Work, Class and the Economy: Good and Bad Strife

The title (Good and Bad Strife) is derived from the opening lines of Hesiod’s Theogony, in which the poet explains that there are two goddesses called Eris (Strife), one who stirs men to productive labour and another who fosters domestic conflict. We will examine both forms of strife: on the one hand the division of labour in antiquity and attitudes towards work and, on the other, notions of class struggle between a ‘leisured elite’ and a working ‘mass’. This module thus aims to provide students with an introduction to the economic and social history of archaic and classical Greece.

These two areas of endeavour, work and class conflict, are of central importance to the history of the Greek city and a much-contested field of research. We will examine key methodologies that have been applied to the study of ancient society and its economy, including Marxist approaches to class and sociological theories of professions. Students will engage in ongoing debates that are currently shaping our understanding of ancient work. These include recent challenges to the notion that the Greeks believed work to be inherently low-status. How does work affect status in antiquity? Could the ‘elite’ have included not only those who possessed land and slaves but also those who had obtained wealth and status through the practice of a valuable skill? We will thus attempt to broaden the subject of work beyond its usual parameters of agriculture and estate management to include manufacturing and the ‘learned professions’, such as doctors, seers, poets and sculptors. The first semester considers what has been termed ‘the aristocratic ideal’: the concept of a leisured elite of rentiers, the importance of agriculture, the spectre of class conflict and finally the different forms of education (both liberal education and training for specific work). The second semester will cover the existence of a labour market, the division of labour and the role of a professional class of skilled workers in ancient society.  

From Petra to Palmyra: Art and Culture in the Roman Near East

This module focuses on the variety of local cults and cultures in the Near East (modern Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Jordan) under Roman rule. We will zoom in on a number of localities in order to look at social, cultural and religious interactions between Greeks, Romans, Jews, Arabs and various other local cultures through literary, epigraphic, visual and archaeological evidence. In the great urban centres such as Palmyra, Tyre, Damascus, we will observe the adoption of the trappings of Graeco-Roman urbanism and public life (from peristyle temples to honorific statues) and their significance within the Second Sophistic.

On the other hand, we will explore alternative “pockets” of non-Hellenisation such as the lava lands of southern Syria with their distinct style of art and architecture in black basalt. ‘Oriental’ gods feature prominently in this module: We will explore their great sanctuaries (Temple of Jupiter at Heliopolis-Baalbek, Temple of Bel at Palmyra, Temple of Zeus at Damascus) in terms of architecture and ritual, and investigate their iconographies (Jupiter Heliopolitanus, Bel, Baalshamin, Atargatis of Hierapolis and myriads of other local gods). In contrast to Judaism and Christianity, there is a colossal lack of literary sources for these gods, and as a consequence, our understanding of their function and character hinges on how their worshippers depicted them in reliefs, statues, figurines and paintings.

Advanced Greek: 1

In this module you will do detailed guided study of a prose or verse text in Greek. Those who have taken Greek A-level and third-years who began the study of Greek in their first year at Nottingham are taught together. Attention is paid to the development of translation skills, but the focus of the module will not be merely linguistic as you will be encouraged to explore the set text’s interrelation with its literary tradition and its socio-political background, as well as to appreciate style and imagery through your access to the text in the original language. You might study a book of Homer, a tragedy of Euripides or Sophocles, a selection from the works of Lucian, a speech by Demosthenes or a book of Herodotus.

Advanced Latin: 1

Detailed guided study in Latin of a prose or verse text designed for those who have begun the study of Latin as part of their University course. Careful attention will be paid to the development of translation skills, but the focus of the module will not be merely linguistic. Students will also be encouraged to explore the set text's interrelation with its literary tradition and its background as well as to appreciate style and imagery through their access to the text in the original language.

Greek Texts: 5

Explore a text in the original Greek.

This text will be representative of an author, genre, period, or theme of Greek literature.

We pay special attention to language and style, and detailed analysis will build your literary appreciation and linguistic skills.

You will also explore:

  • The position of the text in the development of the genre
  • The relationship with its social context

This module is worth 20 credits.

Latin Texts: 5

Explore a text in the original Latin.

This text will be representative of an author, genre, period, or theme of Latin literature. We pay special attention to language and style, and detailed analysis will build your literary appreciation and linguistic skills.

You will also explore the position of the text in the development of the genre, as well as the relationship with its social context.

A recent example is to focus on a selection of Martial’s epigrams and Statius Silvae 2, studying the poems as part of life in Flavian Rome. Themes include:

  • The emperor
  • Patronage
  • Daily life
  • Gender and sexuality
  • Genre
  • Satire
  • The city of Rome

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners Greek for second and third years: 1 and 2

This module is for complete beginners to Greek. It covers the same material as in ‘Beginners' Greek: 1’ and ‘Beginners Greek: 2’ and lets you take up the language at a later point in your degree.

Emphasis is placed on learning to read Greek. You will:

  • Get an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of classical Greek
  • Be supported to translate passages adapted from classical Greek texts

This module is worth 20 credits.

Beginners Latin for second and third years: 1 and 2

This module is for complete beginners to Latin. It covers the same material as in ‘Beginners Latin: 1’ and ‘Beginners Latin: 2’ and lets you take up the language at a later point in your degree.

You’ll get an introduction to the grammar and vocabulary of Latin and you will be supported to analyse and understand basic Latin sentences and short passages.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Advanced Greek: 2

This module involves detailed guided study in Greek of a significant literary text, designed for those who have begun the study of Greek as part of their University course. Special attention will be paid to matters of language and style, but students will also be encouraged to explore the set text's interrelation with its literary tradition and its socio-political background as well as to appreciate style and imagery through their access to the text in the original language.

Advanced Latin: 2

This module involves detailed guided study in Greek of a significant literary text, designed for those who have begun the study of Greek as part of their University course. Special attention will be paid to matters of language and style, but students will also be encouraged to explore the set text's interrelation with its literary tradition and its socio-political background as well as to appreciate style and imagery through their access to the text in the original language.

Greek Texts: 6

Explore a significant literary text in the original Greek.

We pay special attention to language and style, as well as the text’s literary and broader contexts.

The module will reinforce your knowledge of the Greek language, developing your ability to ready with fluency and understanding.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Latin Texts: 6

Explore a text in the original Latin.

This text will be representative of an author, genre, period, or theme of Latin literature. We pay special attention to language and style, and detailed analysis will build your literary appreciation and linguistic skills.

You will also explore the position of the text in the development of the genre, as well as the relationship with its social context.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Peloponnesian War

The Peloponnesian war lasted for more than 25 years. It came to involve much of the Greek world, as diverse states and peoples felt compelled to become allies of either Sparta or Athens. The scale of this struggle, and its repercussions, make it a highly significant period of Greek history.

You will answer key questions about this conflict, including:

  • Why and how did it start?
  • Why did it last so long?
  • How was it fought?
  • How was it won?
  • What were its consequences?

In particular, we will examine the disproportionate role that one man, the Athenian historian Thucydides, plays in shaping our knowledge and understanding of this conflict. How far can we use other authors and types of evidence to get beyond this hugely significant, but imperfect source?

This module is worth 20 credits.

Writing History in Ancient Rome

This module will examine the writing of narrative histories in ancient Rome and their importance in the study of Roman history, particularly in the late Republic and Imperial periods. The works of ancient historical writers differ significantly from modern historians in their approach to evidence, narrative, and impartiality, and we need to be aware of these differences when using these texts as sources. This module will therefore consider the importance of the works of historians like Livy, Tacitus, and Ammianus not only as sources for the study of history, but as literary works in their own right, examining issues of historical accuracy and reliability alongside generic conventions, narrative structures, and issues of characterisation. 

Religion and the Romans

Religion was central to all aspects of Roman life, but did the Romans really 'believe'?

This module explores the traditions and rituals that operated in Roman society, from the earliest stages of archaic Rome, to the advent of Christianity. It will help you to make sense of customs and practices that could baffle even the Romans themselves, alongside showing how the religious system controlled Roman social, political and military activities.

You will examine evidence drawn from the late Republic and early Principate, and use literature and images from the Augustan period as a central hinge for studying the dynamics of religion in Rome.

Topics covered include:

  • The definition of 'religion' and comparative studies
  • Early Rome and the origins of religion
  • The calendar temples and other religious buildings
  • Priesthoods and politics
  • Sacrifice
  • The deification of the emperor
  • Foreign cults in Rome
  • The supposed 'decline of religion'
  • Early Christianity

This module is worth 20 credits.

The World of the Etruscans

When Rome was still a small town, and before Athens became a city of international significance, the Etruscan civilisation flourished in Italy and rapidly gained control of the Mediterranean.

But who were the Etruscans? The Greeks and the Romans regarded them as wealthy pirates, renowned for their luxurious and extravagant lifestyle and for the freedom of their women. Archaeology, however, tells us much more about their daily life and funerary customs, their religious beliefs, their economy, their language, and their technical abilities and artistic tastes.

In this module, you will examine visual and material culture, as well as epigraphic and literary sources, in order to lift the shroud of mystery that often surrounds the Etruscans. You will also place them in the context of the wider Mediterranean world in the 1st millennium BC, examining their exchanges with the Near Eastern kingdoms, their cultural interactions with Greece and the Greek colonial world, and their role in the early history of Rome.

By exploring Etruscan cities and cemeteries from the 9th to the 3rd centuries BC, with their complex infrastructures and technologies, lavish paintings, sculptures and metalwork, you will discover a most advanced civilisation that shared much with the classical cultures and yet was very different from them.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Britain in the Later Roman Empire (c. 250-450)

This module examines Britain in the later-Roman Empire. It is a fascinating period of prosperity, integration, and sophistication. Yet it is also marked by rebellion, civil war, and the sundering of the links that had bound Britain to the continent so deeply for so long.

We will cover from the crisis that marked the middle years of the 3rd century, to the disappearance of Roman power in the early 5th, and the rapid economic collapse and social transformation that followed.

You will take an interdisciplinary approach, combining archaeological and historical evidence, and will be expected to familiarise yourself with a wide range of evidence.

We will examine:

  • the political framework of the later-Roman Empire
  • the textual and archaeological evidence for Britain’s society and economy
  • the barbarian peoples who threatened and interacted with it
  • the question of how it ended up leaving the Roman Empire

You will also consider the integration of different types of source material, thinking about Britain’s place in the wider world in a broader context.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The Silk Road: Cultural Interactions and Perceptions

This is a discipline-bridging cross-campus module, involving colleagues from across the School of Humanities.

The Silk Road will be presented as a range of archaeological, historical and scientific themes. Broad cultural themes will be balanced with the presentation of specific case studies, such as:

  • The definitions of the Silk Roads
  • Byzantine, Islamic and later medieval Silk Roads
  • Luxury production
  • Trade and exchange from the Roman and later periods
  • Ming Dynasty links with the West

Scientific techniques for the analysis of materials, and their role in the interpretation of trade and exchange along the Silk Roads, will also be considered. This could be between, for example, China, central Asia, Scandinavia and the Middle East.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Oedipus Through the Ages

You will explore the ancient evidence for the myth of Oedipus and selected representations of the myth in the post-Classical world. In terms of evidence, you will have the opportunity to explore ancient drama and other poetry as well as visual culture and mythographic writings. In terms of post-Classical representations, there will be a particular focus on performance and on modern popular culture, including (but not necessarily limited to)

  • film
  • popular mythology books,
  • material aimed at children,
  • on-line representations,
  • humour

Optional philosophy modules

Dissertation in Philosophy

The aim of this module is to provide you with an opportunity to write an 8,000-word dissertation on a philosophical topic, the precise subject of which is by agreement with the supervisor. At the completion of the module, you will have had an opportunity to work independently, though with the advice of a supervisor.

Marx

Karl Marx's thoughts and words have had an enormous impact on history. Revolutions have been fought, economic policies pursued and artistic movements established by followers (and opponents) of Marxism.

Together we'll examine some of Mark's original writing and explore his thinking. Specific themes we'll cover include:

  • alienation
  • the materialist conception of history
  • ideology
  • the labour theory of value

By the end of the module you should have a good overview of Marx's attempt to synthesise German philosophy, French political theory, and British economics.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Advanced Logic

This module investigates different kinds of contemporary logic, as well as their uses in philosophy. We will investigate the syntax and semantics of various logics, including first order logic, modal logics, and three-valued logics, as well as ways to apply formal techniques from these logics to philosophical topics such as possibility and necessity, vagueness, and the Liar paradox.

We’ll cover ways to reason and construct proofs using the logics we study, and also ways to reason about them. We’ll look at proofs regarding the limits of formal logic, including proofs of soundness, completeness, and decidability.

Free Will and Action

This module involves the study of a set of related issues concerning the nature and explanation of action and the requirements for free action and free will. Questions to be discussed are likely to include all or most of the following:

  • What would it take for an action to be free (or an exercise of ‘free will’) in a sense that would make it an action for which we are morally responsible?
  • Is there is any way in which our actions could be free in the relevant sense, whether or not determinism is true?
  • How do actions differ from bodily movements that are not actions?
  • Actions are typically (perhaps always) done for reasons, but what exactly is the relation between the reasons and the actions?
  • Do the reasons cause the corresponding actions - and if they do, can this be the same kind of causation as is involved in ordinary ‘mechanistic’ causal explanation?
  • And what about the fact that at least some of our actions seem to have purely physical causes?
  • If they do, doesn’t this make any ‘mental causes’ of those actions redundant?
  • What is the connection between intentional or voluntary action and rational action?
  • In particular, it seems that we sometimes intentionally and voluntarily do things that we ourselves regard as irrational - but how is such ‘weakness of will’ possible?
Environmental Ethics

In this module we'll ask questions like:

  • How should human beings interact with the non-human natural world?
  • Is nature intrinsically valuable, or does it possess value only by being valuable to us?

As part of this we'll cover topics such as:

  • the moral status of animals
  • the ethics of zoos
  • responsibility for climate change
  • whether there is any connection between the twin oppressions of women and nature
  • the environmental impact of having children
  • the ethics of restoring nature after it has been damaged by human development

This module is worth 20 credits.

Communicating Philosophy

This module will teach you how to communicate philosophy through a variety of different mediums, assessing them in each. We will look at how philosophy can be communicated through legal documentation, press releases, handouts, lesson plans, webpages, funding bids and posters (with optional presentations).

A number of the sessions will be delivered by professionals from outside the university, with support from the module convener. Seminars will be used to develop each of the items for assessment. You will be invited to draw upon your prior philosophical learning to generate your assessments, except in the case of handout where you will be set a specific philosophical task and asked to complete some (very basic) independent research.

Taking Utilitarianism Seriously

This module is an extended discussion of utilitarian approaches to moral and political philosophy, including utilitarian accounts of:

  • the nature of wellbeing
  • reasons and rightness
  • rights and justice
  • democracy
  • individual decision-making
  • praise and blame
Philosophy and Mortality

Illness, ageing, death and dying are universal experiences. Yet discussion about them often only happens in times of emotional distress.

Together we'll explore philosophical issues related to human mortality in an open, supportive and compassionate way.

As well as a deeper understanding of the issues you will also build capacity to think sensitively and humanely about the human experience of ageing, illness, and dying.

Typical topics might include:

  • experiences of being chronically ill
  • psychiatry and mental health
  • the oppression of ill persons · illness narratives
  • the moral and spiritual significance of illness
  • the experience of dying
  • empathy, grief, and mourning
  • death and the meaning of life
  • the significance of human mortality to wider philosophical issues and concerns

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Recreation

We expect recompense when we work but appear to do recreational activities just for their own sake.

You'll use philosophical tools to examine the meaning and value of such recreational activities, exploring questions such as:

  • Is recreational sex and drug consumption merely about pleasurable sensations?
  • Why do we put such great effort into achieving seemingly arbitrary goals in sport?
  • Does it make sense for fans to feel elated if they played no part in a team’s success?
  • Is there something special about being in a zone of effortless attention whilst playing an instrument?
  • Could risking death seeking sensations of the sublime by climbing a mountain be better than safely siting on your sofa watching trash tv?
Advanced Topics in the Philosophy of Mind

The philosophy of mind addresses philosophical questions about the mind and aspects of the mind: mental or psychological states and capacities. Advanced topics in the philosophy of mind will focus on a specific area (or areas) of the philosophy of mind.

Which specific area (or areas) of philosophy of mind is in focus may vary from year to year. So the topics for this area of philosophy of mind may include:

  • the nature of perception
  • the nature of perceptual consciousness
  • the directness or indirectness of perception
  • the perception-knowledge link
  • what properties or kinds perception can present
  • issues about the senses
  • specific issues about vision and audition
Advanced Topics in Aesthetics

This module is a discussion of some philosophical problems pertaining to art. Topics could include definitions of art, the objectivity versus the subjectivity of aesthetic evaluations, emotional response to art, the ontological status of artworks, and Walton's theory of make-believe.

This module aims to promote a deeper understanding of philosophical issues pertaining to art. By the end of the module, you should be able to discuss and evaluate different views of the expressive power of art, to explain certain current views on the status of aesthetic evaluations, and to present the main contemporary viewpoints pertaining to the nature of artworks.

Language, Metaphysics and Metametaphysics

Typically, this module introduces you to some advanced topics in contemporary analytic metaphysics. The module focuses on important topics, which have received recent attention. The topics covered will include:

  • metaphysical nihilism (why there is something rather than nothing, and the subtraction argument)
  • causation (the counterfactual theory and other accounts)
  • the metaphysics of grounding (and concerns with such a notion)
  • the metaphysics of absolute and relational space and time
  • vagueness and indeterminacy

The module presupposes a certain basic familiarity with general issues in metaphysics and the philosophy of language, but is designed to serve as an advanced introduction to new topics that is completely accessible to the uninitiated.

Buddhist Philosophy

This module will focus on a critical examination of core aspects of Buddhist thinking, with emphasis on some of its basic psychological, spiritual, and metaphysical conceptions.

These include, in particular: the origin and nature of suffering; the no-self thesis; enlightenment; consciousness; experiential knowing; and the doctrine of Emptiness (the lack of inherent nature in all things and impermanence).

Philosophy of Criminal Law

There is perhaps no more vivid example of the exercise of state power over individuals than through the institution of criminal law. This power relationship raises a host of important philosophical questions, such as:

  • Is there a general obligation to obey the law? If so, what is the basis for this obligation?
  • What sorts of acts should be criminalised, and why?
  • What does it mean for someone to be responsible for a crime, or for the state to hold someone responsible?
  • Is criminal punishment justified? If so, why?
  • What is the proper role for the presumption of innocence: Who must presume whom to be innocent of what? 
  • Is the state ever justified in imposing legal restrictions on offenders even after they have completed their punishment?
  • How should the criminal law function in the international context?

We'll look at thinking from across history, from seminal figures such as Plato, Bentham, and Kant, to more contemporary philosophers such as Hart, Hampton, Duff, and others.

No experience of criminal law necessary. Ideal for both philosophers and practitioners.

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Subjectivism and Relativism in Ethics

One often hears the opinion that ethics is subjective. But what does this mean, exactly?

And one often hears the view that ethics is relative. But relative to what?

And what is ‘ethics’ anyway?

And if ethics is subjective, or relative, what does that mean for ethics as a discipline? Does it mean, for example, that our ethical pronouncements can never be incorrect, never be challenged, or never disagreed with?

This module addresses these and other questions about the foundations of ethics, and gives you the material to develop your own views of this peculiarly human phenomenon.

Knowledge, Ignorance and Democracy

Politics and truth have always had a complicated relationship. Lies, bullshit, spin, and propaganda are nothing new.

Polarization is on the rise in many democracies and political disagreements have spread to disputes about obvious matters of fact.

But have we really entered the era of 'post-truth' politics? Is debate now framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the facts?

In this module, we'll explore questions such as:

  • Should the existence of widespread disagreement in politics make us less confident in our own views?
  • Are voters morally or epistemically obligated to vote responsibly?
  • Is it rational for citizens to base their political views on group identity rather than reasoned arguments?
  • Should we have beliefs about complex policy questions about which we are not experts?
  • Is democracy the best form of government for getting at the truth?

 

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Education

Education plays a fundamental part in all our lives. It shapes who we are as individuals, our value systems, our political and religious outlooks. As a consequence it changes how society looks, how it operates, and what we think society ought to be like. Education then, is of the most profound importance.

As philosophers we are uniquely placed to think long and hard about education:

  • what is its role?
  • what should its role be?
  • who gets to decide what is taught?

Rising to this challenge this module creates the space, and provides the tools, for you to do just this.

This module is worth 20 credits.

Philosophy of Sex
  • How many people have you had sex with?
  • Is there a difference between sex work and working in a supermarket?
  • What is love? Do we chose who we love?
  • What is gender? What do we mean when we say 'trans women are women'?

These are some of the many philosophical questions which arise when you start thinking about sex and related topics.

During this module we will tackle the conceptual, moral, political, and metaphysical issues raised by sexual activity. Possible topics we'll look at include:

  • the nature of sexual desire
  • sexual consent
  • sexual objectification
  • prostitution
  • pornography
  • sexual orientation

Together we'll look at the experiences and testimony of a variety of groups, including those considered sexual and gender minorities. Then we'll use philosophical tools to explore the issues that such testimony raises.

This module is worth 20 credits.

The above is a sample of the typical modules we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Modules (including methods of assessment) may change or be updated, or modules may be cancelled, over the duration of the course due to a number of reasons such as curriculum developments or staffing changes. Please refer to the module catalogue for information on available modules. This content was last updated on

We're keen to offer you the opportunity to develop your language skills while studying here.

You can learn a language for its own sake or because it complements your degree or intended career.

We cater for all levels - from complete beginners to near-native competence.

There are currently nine language options available.

Check out the Language Centre for more information

Fees and funding

UK students

£9,250
Per year

International students

To be confirmed in 2021*
Keep checking back for more information
*For full details including fees for part-time students and reduced fees during your time studying abroad or on placement (where applicable), see our fees page.

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland starting your course in the 2022/23 academic year, you will pay international tuition fees.

This does not apply to Irish students, who will be charged tuition fees at the same rate as UK students. UK nationals living in the EU, EEA and Switzerland will also continue to be eligible for ‘home’ fee status at UK universities until 31 December 2027.

For further guidance, check our Brexit information for future students.

Additional costs

Essential course materials are supplied.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts.

A limited number of modules have compulsory texts which you are required to buy.

We recommend that you budget £100 per year for books, but this figure will vary according to which modules you take.

The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (for example Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith). You can often buy second-hand copies of textbooks through them as students from previous years sell their copies back to the bookshop.

Volunteering and placements

For volunteering and placements, such as work experience and teaching in schools, you will need to pay for transport and refreshments.

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up-to-date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £1,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International students

We offer a range of international undergraduate scholarships for high-achieving international scholars who can put their Nottingham degree to great use in their careers.

International scholarships

Careers

Studying cultures and practising philosophy doesn’t lead to a single specific career but a huge range of professions.

Both of these subjects develop skills essential to professional careers:

  • analytical reasoning
  • synthesise and evaluate information and opinions
  • articulating complex arguments and lines of reasoning
  • constructive criticism and discussion
  • presenting and persuading
  • communicate effectively orally and in writing
  • planning research
  • independent study

The range of skills you'll develop also means you'll be:

  • resilient - as the nature of work changes you can adapt
  • flexible - you can choose across different sectors as you develop and grow and opportunities arise

Recent graduates have gone into a wide range of positions in:

  • heritage, museum and archaeology sectors
  • media, publishing and journalism
  • central and local civil service
  • politics
  • law
  • education
  • banking and finance

Find out more about opportunities for our graduates in Philosophy and Classics.

Key fact

Only 14% of employers state that specific degree subjects are a selection criterion. (Institute of Student Employers recruitment survey 2019)

Average starting salary and career progression

73.2% of undergraduates from the Department of Classics and Archaeology secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £23,083.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

78.9% of undergraduates from the Department of Philosophy secured graduate level employment or further study within 15 months of graduation. The average annual salary was £22,390.*

*HESA Graduate Outcomes 2020. The Graduate Outcomes % is derived using The Guardian University Guide methodology. The average annual salary is based on graduates working full-time within the UK.

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take.

Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers (Ranked in the top ten in The Graduate Market in 2013-2020, High Fliers Research).

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" I love what you can discover with this subject - it covers almost everything. I think they got the balance right between the classics and the new, current, happening philosophy that keeps the subject alive. "
Tom Ivens, BA Philosophy

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Important information

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.