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Core Courses

Every term ECLA students spend half their time on a core course, created and co-taught by several faculty members and guest teachers. Core courses are mandatory and, quite literally, form the core of an ECLA education. Premised on the thought that a well-rounded education involves learning to take interest in unfamiliar questions, the core courses ensure that none of the fundamental forms of value remain terra incognita to ECLA students. The courses are dedicated to questions concerning politics, morality, art and knowledge that have a claim on everyone's attention. The dialogues such questions inspire are, ultimately, ongoing explorations of the extent to which we can find common normative ground for shared lives. As Plato's Socrates observed, disagreement about values is a source of anger and enmity. By addressing value questions together, ECLA students educate themselves to inhabit a common world.  

ECLA's core courses are updated annually, and sometimes replaced with new courses. Here is the current core course overview:

BA in Value Studies - First Year / Academy Year Programme

Term 1: Plato's Republic and its Interlocutors
Term 2: Forms of Love: Eros, Agape and Philia
Term 3: Values of the Florentine Renaissance + Italy Trip

BA in Value Studies - Second Year

Term 1: The Idea of Character
Term 2: Reason, Faith & Scepticism
Term 3: Property

BA in Value Studies - Fourth Year / Project Year Programme

Term 1: Bildung 
Term 2: Bildung
Term 3: Research Seminar



In addition to mandatory core courses, ECLA students follow individually chosen seminars - 'electives' - every term. These are often designed as complements to one of the core courses, in this manner facilitating integrated studies. An elective on Dante's Divine Comedy, for example, may be offered as a complement to a core course on Values of the Florentine Renaissance. A core course on Property may be supplemented with an elective on Jealousy. Other electives are independent explorations of more specialized topics. Every elective, however, uses the same format: one to three weekly discussion seminars with 5-12 students, and one-to-one tutorials twice a term for the discussion of student essays.

BA students choose elective courses according to concentration requirements. In each of their first two years, students choose an area of concentration in which they take a prescribed course each term. These 'concentration seminars' function as year-long electives and constitute foundational studies in the chosen area of concentration. Also, by the end of the programme, BA students must have completed three further courses relevant for each area of concentration. Students choose these individually from the list of electives offered each term.

BA students, in their second and fourth years, and Project Year students, take one hybrid course each term that can be said to sit on the fence between core courses and electives. These courses - referred to as 'core electives' and 'reading groups' - introduce an element of choice into the core course structure. Each of these hybrid courses are devoted to the theme of the course, but represent different approaches to that theme.


Individual Research

The central component of the Project Year Programme and the fourth year of the BA in Value Studies is a year-long research project supervised by one or two faculty members, arranged in the light of individual background, interests and plans for the future. The main task is to demarcate a field of focused inquiry and pursue it in depth, but students are also expected to reflect on their choice of problems and preferences of method. In the 'research seminars' students have the opportunity (and challenge) to discuss the premises and findings of their project with peers whose main interests will typically lie elsewhere. The work on the project culminates with a 25-page research paper and an oral presentation of the project to the entire ECLA community.


Language Courses

More than 30 countries are represented in the ECLA community. English is taken for granted as the shared working language, but it is a multilingual community that takes linguistic diversity for granted and supports language learning. Most ECLA students take language classes for extra credit.  Instruction in modern languages is currently offered in German, French and Spanish.

In addition, there is a special language course being offered in Ancient Greek.