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Classics and Philosophy

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Classics and Philosophy

BA
  • UCAS code QV85
  • Option 3 years full time
  • Year of entry 2021

The course

By combining Classics and Philosophy in equal parts you'll have the opportunity to study ancient Greek and Latin alongside ancient and modern philosophy. With roots of philosophical theory anchored in the ancient world, Philosophy and Classics make an excellent combination of subjects.

Classics is perfect if you have a knowledge and love of either Latin or Greek and want to add that second ancient language to your repertoire, while learning more about the classical world through the study of texts in the original as well as artefacts, ideas and past-deeds.

You will study both Latin and Greek language and literature, reading texts in the original words of the author. The remainder of your time will be spent understanding the minds, hearts and actions of the ancient Romans and Greeks through the study of ancient philosophy, history, classical archaeology as well as Latin and Greek literature in translation.

As a Classicist you will be part of our Classics Department, where the quality of research that informs our teaching and a friendly, individual approach which shapes the way we guide our students combine to create an unbeaten academic experience. A thriving Classics Society contributes to the friendly and sociable atmosphere of our department.

At Royal Holloway we have a unique approach to Philosophy that looks beyond the narrow confines of the Anglo-American analytic or the European tradition of philosophy focus on both traditions, their relationship and connections between them. The result has been the creation of a truly interdisciplinary and collaborative course that brings together academic staff from departments across the university.

With the opportunity to examine (amongst other things) the mind and consciousness, aesthetics and morals, the self and others, the range of subjects available to Philosophy students at Royal Holloway guarantees that there will be something on offer that really engages you during your time with us.

Our flexible degree programmes enable you to apply to take a Placement Year, which can be spent studying abroad, working or carrying out voluntary work. You can even do all three if you want to (minimum of three months each)! To recognise the importance of this additional skills development and university experience, your Placement Year will be formally recognised on your degree certificate and will contribute to your overall result. Please note conditions may apply if your degree already includes an integrated year out, please contact the Careers & Employability Service for more information. Find out more

  • Learn Latin and Greek, one of which can be from scratch.
  • Study texts in the original language using highly developed linguistic skills.
  • Consider ancient cultural, social and political contexts.
  • A historical range from ancient to contemporary analytic philosophy.
  • Develop critical skills for your career or further study.

Core Modules

Year 1
  • Introduction to Modern Philosophy
  • Knowledge is often thought to be the highest achievement of rational creatures, the thing that distinguishes us from other animals and is the basis of our ability to predict and control our environment. Beginning with the most Platonic of questions—‘what is knowledge?’—this course introduces you to basic topics in contemporary epistemology. Among the questions it goes on to address are: why is knowledge valuable?; how do we acquire knowledge and how do we pass it on to others?; how do we become better knowers?; is there such a thing as collective knowledge?; do animals have knowledge?; is there such a thing as knowledge at all?

     

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of ancient philosophical ideas and the ways in which philosophical arguments are presented and analysed. You will look at the thought and significance of the principal ancient philosophers, from the Presocratics to Aristotle, and examine sample texts such as Plato's 'Laches' and the treatment of the virtue of courage in Aristotle, 'Nicomachean Ethics' 3.6-9.

Year 2
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

Year 3
  • All modules are optional

Optional Modules

There are a number of optional course modules available during your degree studies. The following is a selection of optional course modules that are likely to be available. Please note that although the College will keep changes to a minimum, new modules may be offered or existing modules may be withdrawn, for example, in response to a change in staff. Applicants will be informed if any significant changes need to be made.

Year 1
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of Ancient Greek grammar and syntax and learn elementary vocabulary. You will acquire basic aptitude in reading Ancient Greek text (mostly adapted, with some possible original unadapted basic texts) and consider the relationship between Ancient Greek language and ancient Greek literature and culture.

  • In this module you will further your understanding of Greek grammar and syntax. You will look at Greek prose and/or verse texts, in unadapted original Greek, and learn how to accurately translate passages at sight.


  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a wide range of texts in ancient Greek. You will look at set texts in both prose and verse for translation, and complete grammar and syntax consolidation exercises. You will consider the literary and linguistic features of advanced Greek texts and examine features of grammar, syntax and style.

  • This module can be taken by anyone with less than a B in GCSE Latin.  If students have a B or better in Latin GCSE or equivalent, they should be looking at Intermediate Latin (unless it was a very long time ago). The module sets out to provide a basic training in the Latin language for those with little or no previous experience of Latin. The emphasis is on developing the skill of analysing the structure and meaning of Latin sentences, and on efficient use of the dictionary. Students will also gain familiarity with a range of literary and epigraphic texts in the original Latin.

  • A module intended to build on Beginner’s Latin or O-level/GCSE, extending the students' knowledge of Latin to the point where they are ready to read substantial texts.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of classical Latin and how to interpret Latin texts. You will study two set texts in Latin, one prose and one verse, focussing on translation, context and understanding of grammar. You will gain practice in unprepared translation of texts of similar genres to the prepared texts and will consider selected topics in Latin grammar and syntax.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the formal study of arguments through the two basic systems of modern logic - sentential or propositional logic and predicate logic. You will learn how to present and analyse arguments formally, and look at the implications and uses of logical analysis by considering Bertrand Russell’s formalist solution to the problem of definite descriptions. You will also examine the the broader significance of findings in logic to philosophical inquiry.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the relationship between the mind and the brain. You will examine the key theories, from Descartes' dualist conception of the relationship between mind and body through to Chalmers's conception of consciousness as 'the hard problem' in the philosophy of mind. You will also consider some of the famous thought experiments in this area, including Descartes's and Laplace's demons, the Chinese Room and the China Brain, Mary and the black-and-white room, and the problem of zombie and bat consciousness.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the central problems and debates within moral philosophy and aesthetics. You will look at questions relating to both metaphysical and ethical relativism, including the ways we view our moral commitments within the world, how the individual is related to society, and the value and nature of the work of art. You will also examine approaches from the history of philosophy, including the Anglo-American tradition and recent European philosophy.

Year 2
  • In this module you will further your understanding of Greek grammar and syntax. You will look at Greek prose and/or verse texts, in unadapted original Greek, and learn how to accurately translate passages at sight.


  • Intensive Greek
  • Aspects of Modern Greek Language and Culture
  • A module intended to build on Beginner’s Latin or O-level/GCSE, extending the students' knowledge of Latin to the point where they are ready to read substantial texts.

  • Intensive Latin
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of classical Latin and how to interpret Latin texts. You will study two set texts in Latin, one prose and one verse, focussing on translation, context and understanding of grammar. You will gain practice in unprepared translation of texts of similar genres to the prepared texts and will consider selected topics in Latin grammar and syntax.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the major debates in European and some Anglo-American philosophy. You will look at the key texts by eighteenth and nineteenth-century philosophers Immanuel Kant and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, examining the continuing significance of their ideas. You will consider the major epistemological, ethical and aesthetical issues their idea raise, and the problems associated with the notion of modernity. You will also analyse the importance of the role of history in modern philosophy via Hegel's influence.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of how the rationalist and empiricist traditions in philosophy influence contemporary thought in the philosophy of mind. You will look at the continuing relevance of the mind-body problem to the question of what it is to be a human being and consider the connections between the analytic and European traditions in philosophy with respect to language, subjectivity, and the phenomenology of experience. You will also examine the importance of consciousness to contemporary debates in philosophy, psychology and cognitive science.

  • Introduction to European Philosophy 2: The Critique of Idealism
  • Philosophy and the Arts
  • Varieties of Scepticism
  • The Varieties of Scepticism
  • The Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Religon
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of some of the key concepts in political theory today. You will look at political obligation, civil disobedience, democracy, citizenship, equality, global justice, human rights, and freedom and toleration. You will consider important theorists including Berlin Rawls, Nozick, Sandel, Okin and Pettit, examining the recent major theoretical perspectives in the context of contemporary politics.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of the themes, arguments, and interpretations of major political thinkers from the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries. You will look at the works of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant, Mill, Marx and Nietzsche and consider how the ideas articulated by these thinkers continue to underpin contemporary debates about the nature of freedom, human rights, value pluralism, popular sovereignty, state legitimacy, and the modern condition. You will also examine how study of these thinkers illuminates contemporary debates even where these debates no longer make reference to them.

Year 3
  • In this module you will develop an understanding of a wide range of texts in ancient Greek. You will look at set texts in both prose and verse for translation, and complete grammar and syntax consolidation exercises. You will consider the literary and linguistic features of advanced Greek texts and examine features of grammar, syntax and style.

  • In this module you will develop an understanding of classical Latin and how to interpret Latin texts. You will study two set texts in Latin, one prose and one verse, focussing on translation, context and understanding of grammar. You will gain practice in unprepared translation of texts of similar genres to the prepared texts and will consider selected topics in Latin grammar and syntax.

  • Hellenistic Epic: Apollonius of Rhodes
  • Imperial Greek Poetry: Epic & Epigram
  • Homer (in Greek)
  • The Tragedy of Euripides
  • Greek Dramatic Texts II (Comedy)
  • Herodotus
  • Plato (in Greek)
  • Imperial Greek Literature
  • Greek Historiography (in Greek)
  • Greek Erotic Poetry in Greek
  • Horace
  • Lucretius and Virgil
  • Roman Satire
  • Latin Epic
  • Latin Historiography
  • Catullus and Horace
  • Latin Letters
  • You will demonstrate your skills as an independent learner by embarking upon a substantial piece of written work of between 8,000 and 10,000 words in length. You will be guided by a dissertation supervisor, but will choose your own topic, approach, and philosophical sources.

  • Modern European Philosophy 1: Husserl to Heidegger
  • Modern European Philosophy 2: Critical Theory and Hermeneutics
  • Philosophy and the Arts
  • The Varieties of Scepticism
  • The Philosophy of Religion
  • Philosophy of Religon
  • Philosophy and Literature
  • The Good Life in Ancient Philosophy
  • Radical Political Theory
  • The Politics of Toleration
  • Social Justice: From Theory to Practice
  • Theories of Freedom and Democracy

The course has a modular structure, whereby students take 12 course units at the rate of four units per year. The second year project unit and the third year dissertation are compulsory but all other the end of each year. Your final year dissertation will also count towards your degree award.

You will be taught through a mixture of lectures, seminars and individual tutorials, depending on the subjects studied. Outside classes, you will undertake group projects and wide-ranging but guided independent study, including completing language exercises and reading prescribed and open material. Private study and preparation are essential parts of every course, and you will have access to many online resources and the University’s comprehensive e-learning facility, Moodle. When you start with us, you are assigned a Personal Tutor to support you academically and personally.

In your final year the Classics department provides ongoing support for your dissertation work, which usually includes:

  • Lectures and practical sessions on Dissertation Research Methods e.g. planning your topics, carrying out research, using specialist resources, finding information in print and online, and managing your search results and references. These sessions are run in conjunction with the Library Service and are generally also open to second year students.
  • Short departmental writing ‘surgeries’, in which academic staff offer general writing support if you are experiencing problems and/or if you have specific queries.

Most modules contain an element of assessed coursework, such as an essay, presentation and/or assessed seminar participation marks, which contributes to the final examination mark awarded. The results of the first year exams qualify you to progress to the second year but do not contribute to your final degree award. The second and final year results do contribute to the final degree result, with the final year work counting double that of the second year. In addition, you will take a study skills course during your first year, designed to equip you with and enhance the writing skills you will need to be successful in your degree. This course does not count towards your final degree award but you are required to pass it to progress to your second year.

100% say staff have made the subject interesting

Source: National Student Survey, 2019 (Classics)

Top in the UK for career prospects

Source: 'Career after 6 months', Guardian University Guide, 2020 (Classics)

6th in the UK for student satisfaction

Source: Complete University Guide, 2020 (Classics)

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