ASP215 - Philosophy, Happiness, and the Good Life

Unit details

Note: You are seeing the 2023 view of this unit information. These details may no longer be current. [Go to the current version]

2023 unit information

Enrolment modes:

Trimester 1: Burwood (Melbourne), Waurn Ponds (Geelong), Online, CBD*

Credit point(s):1
EFTSL value:0.125
Unit Chair:Trimester 1: George Duke
Cohort rule:Nil

Any first year Arts unit

Typical study commitment:

Students will on average spend 150-hours over the teaching period undertaking the teaching, learning and assessment activities for this unit.

Scheduled learning activities - campus:

1 x 2-hour seminar per week

Scheduled learning activities - online:

1 x 2-hour online seminar per week


*CBD refers to the National Indigenous Knowledges, Education, Research and Innovation (NIKERI) Institute; Community Based Delivery


In this course, we look at some basic life questions everyone faces: what is happiness, and how do we attain it? Is pleasure the goal of life? Is fame the best thing to aspire to? Is strength of character enough to be happy, or do we need good luck? Should we moderate, or try to conquer emotions like anger? Is it ever right to lie? Is altruism the key to a good life, or pursuing self-interest? Each week, competing answers to these questions are examined, and students are prompted to engage with a host of the most important Western philosophers: Socrates, Aristotle, the Stoics, Cicero, Epicureanism, Natural Law, Hume, Kant and utilitarianism.

ULO These are the Learning Outcomes (ULO) for this unit. At the completion of this unit, successful students can: Deakin Graduate Learning Outcomes

Critically evaluate key ideas in ethical and moral philosophy concerning the nature of happiness and the good life from a range of great Western philosophers, from Aristotle in the ancient world through to Immanuel Kant in the modern period

GLO1: Discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities

GLO2: Communication

GLO4: Critical thinking

GLO8: Global citizenship


Apply key ethical and moral ideas from leading Western thinkers to a range of different practical cases, examples, and dilemmas, and understand how these ideas have informed Western legal, political, and cultural institutions

GLO1: Discipline-specific knowledge and capabilities

GLO2: Communication

GLO5: Problem solving

GLO8: Global citizenship


Work collaboratively to analyse, compare, and defend philosophical arguments, backed by relevant evidence, and present competing claims in the context of philosophical dialogue

GLO3: Digital literacy

GLO5: Problem solving

GLO7: Teamwork


Assessment Description Student output Grading and weighting
(% total mark for unit)
Indicative due week
Assessment 1 (Group) - Essay 1 1600 words
or equivalent
40% Week 7
Assessment 2 - Essay 2 1600 words
or equivalent
40% Week 11
Assessment 3 - Seminar/Online Exercises 800 words
or equivalent
20% Ongoing

The assessment due weeks provided may change. The Unit Chair will clarify the exact assessment requirements, including the due date, at the start of the teaching period.

Learning Resource

The texts and reading list for the unit can be found on the University Library via the link ASP215
Note: Select the relevant trimester reading list. Please note that a future teaching period's reading list may not be available until a month prior to the start of that teaching period so you may wish to use the relevant trimester's prior year reading list as a guide only.

Unit Fee Information

Click on the fee link below which describes you: