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Course content

This programme introduces the main fields, topics and research methods in ancient philosophy. It is appropriate for applicants who have previously studied philosophy and classics, or have backgrounds in history, political theory, science and literature.

The programme is appropriate for applicants who have previously studied philosophy and classics, as well as those with backgrounds in history, political theory, science and literature.

The degree provides a necessary preparation for further postgraduate research towards a doctoral degree or an academic background to a professional career outside academia.

You will be exposed to the main doctrines and texts of ancient philosophy – including Pre-Socratics, Plato and Aristotle, Hellenistic philosophy and Late Antiquity – mastering analytical skills pertaining to philosophical arguments and to historical (textual) sources.

You will develop the ability to reconstruct, analyse and critically assess philosophical arguments and doctrines based on a careful study of the texts.

Programme structure

You study two semesters of taught courses followed by a dissertation.

Compulsory courses:

  • Ancient Philosophy Seminar I and II
  • Methodology Seminars in Classics

Option courses may include:

  • Ancient Ethics
  • Ancient Theories of Knowledge
  • History of Science and Religion in the Christian Tradition
  • Christian-Muslim Relations and the Relationship Between the World of Islam and the West
  • Ancient Theories of Existence
  • Ancient Theories of Mind
  • Topics in Hellenistic Philosophy

Other option courses can be chosen from outside Philosophy and Classics with permission from the Programme Director.

You are encouraged to take at least one course outside the ‘ancient’ curriculum, such as:

  • Philosophical Method 1 and 2
  • Introduction to Mind, Language, and Embodied Cognition
  • Free Will and Moral Responsibility
  • Advanced Topics in Mind, Language & Embodied Cognition

Learning outcomes

You will enhance your knowledge and understanding of the main broad areas of ancient philosophy (Pre-Socratics, High Classics (Plato and Aristotle), Hellenistic philosophy, Late Antiquity) and medieval philosophy, specific types of philosophical thought (idealism, corporealism, naturalism, rationalism, skepticism) in their historical context.

An important goal of the programme is to develop the ability to reconstruct, analyse and critically assess philosophical arguments and doctrines on the basis of a careful study of the text.

For those planning to go on to a PhD in Ancient Philosophy, there will be an opportunity to enhance your knowledge of classical languages by studying the course texts in the original language. Up to 40 credits in ancient Greek, Latin or Arabic can be taken at introductory, intermediate or advanced level.

Career opportunities

This programme aims to improve your analytical skills and give you a solid background in core areas of humanities useful for careers in professional fields such as law, education or public policy.


Visit the Ancient Philosophy (MSc) page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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