Ancient Greek Sciences: Astronomy, Cosmology and Physics - CLAS8210

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Module delivery information

This module is not currently running in 2024 to 2025.


Ancient Greek concepts of 'rational science' were vastly different from modern perceptions and discipline classifications. Its foundation was grounded in philosophical discussions that considered the nature of the cosmos and all that existed within it. This module demonstrates how the subjects were interlinked through a close analysis of the development of ancient astronomy, mathematics, cosmology and physics, from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods. It discusses literary, philosophical and archaeological material.

The module begins with a discussion of the pre-Socratic philosophers' introduction of the theory of the four elements: earth, air, fire and water that were present within everything, including the stars and the body. From here, students will examine how the theories on the primary cosmological elements were transformed into entire cosmological theories, which included the stars, animals and the human body. The module will finally proceed to discuss how advances in astronomical knowledge, mathematics and geography influenced the development of the sciences and engineering in the Hellenistic period.


Contact hours

Total Contact Hours: 20
Private Study Hours: 280
Total Study Hours: 300

Method of assessment

Main assessment methods
Commentary Review (1,000 words) – 20%
Presentation Portfolio (1,500 words) – 40%
Essay (3,500 words) – 40%

Reassessment methods
100% Coursework (4,500 words)

Indicative reading

The University is committed to ensuring that core reading materials are in accessible electronic format in line with the Kent Inclusive Practices. The most up to date reading list for each module can be found on the university's reading list pages:

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

The intended subject specific learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Seal with complex academic issues for the study of cosmological theories, astronomy and physics based on their systematic understanding of these areas, and have a critical awareness of current research questions within the academic study of Ancient Greek Sciences;
2 Interpret a comprehensive a range of primary sources primarily for the study of ancient cosmology, astronomy and physics utilising techniques that are appropriate for their interpretation and critical evaluation;
3 Understand and articulate the complex relationship between Ancient Greek Philosophy and the Sciences (including astronomy, cosmology, mathematics, and physics);
4 Critically evaluate the philosophical thinking that links the cosmos to human existence in ancient Greece;
5 Demonstrate self-direction and originality in tackling and solving problems raised in the study of the complex intersection between philosophy, science and the cosmos in Ancient Greece ranging from the Geometric to the Hellenistic periods.

The intended generic learning outcomes.
On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

1 Exercise initiative and have taken personal responsibility for the development of their studies;
2 Respond to views and criticisms of others with the aim of improving their own working methods and techniques;
3 Make judgements independently in relation to the development of their studies in relation to new or challenging tasks;
4 Demonstrate their comprehensive knowledge and understanding, and to develop new skills to a high level.


  1. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  2. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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