Course overview

One of the most fascinating aspects of the history of ideas is learning how ideas have a life of their own, influencing society and culture through successive generations in different ways. In this 10-week course we’ll focus on an different important and influential question each week. We cover philosophy, literature, science and history. We’ll read and discuss selected extracts which will be circulated beforehand. The course covers a sweep of over 2000 years, from the ancient Greeks to modern times.

Course description

 Big questions that were debated in the ancient world are still being threshed out today. Each session will cover a different big question that has been influential throughout history. The questions include: do we have free will?; why is ritual so important to us?; what is that makes you the same person over time?; what is the purpose of a university?; why should I do what is right (and how do I know what is right, anyway)?; what is the justification for punishment?; what is the purpose of leisure?; and can machines be intelligent? Selected readings will be circulated before each class so you can prepare your thoughts in advance. The course is very much centred on participation from learners, and there will be opportunities for you to suggest additional topics for sessions. You’ll gain an understanding of how different philosophers, thinkers and artists have influenced each other, and be stimulated to pursue further reading of your own. This is a course for everyone who enjoys good-natured debate and wants to exercise their brain. And of course tea and biscuits feature in every class.

What financial support is available?

We don't want anything to stand in your way when it comes to bringing Adult learning within reach so if you need anything to support you to achieve your goals then speak to one of our education experts during your enrolment journey. Most of our courses are government funded but if you don't qualify or need alternative financial help to access them then let us know.

What other support is available?

All of our digital content, teaching and learning activities and assessments are designed to be accessible so if you need any additional support you can discuss this with the education experts during your enrolment journey and we will do all we can to make sure you have optimal access.

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