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Friends and Lovers: the philosophy of personal relationships

Course Times & Enrolment

(Code PY031-402) Thu, 19 July - Fri, 20 July, 10.00am – 3.00pm 1.27 Paterson's Land • Tutor: Elizabeth Drummond Young MA MSc PhD
This course is now closed for enrolments

Course Summary

This two-day course provides an overview of both historical views of love and friendship and also the modern philosophical discussion. We will study examples from literature, film and real life to bring the philosophy of personal relationships alive.

Course Details

Pre-requisites for enrolment

No previous experience required. All welcome.

Content of Course

Day 1:

  • Friendship and feeling in antiquity
  • The Romantic Ideal – then and now

Day 2:

  • Modern philosophical puzzles about love
  • Love and friendship - the public importance of private lives

Teaching method(s)

Each session will combine lectures and tutor-led discussion.

Learning outcomes

  • Read and understand basic philosophical texts on friendship and love;
  • Critically evaluate various philosophical positions on the subject;
  • Understand the historical perspective of writings on friendship and love;
  • Consider how their own and other modern views fit into this perspective.


Core Readings

  • Vernon, M., 2006. The Philosophy of Friendship. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Milligan, T., 2011. Love (The Art of Living series) Durham: Acumen.

Web Sources

Stanford Encylopaedia of Philosophy (entries on Aristotle, Love and Friendship)

Class Handouts

Handouts will be provided.


If you have questions regarding the course or enrolment, please contact COL Reception at Paterson's Land by email or by phone 0131 650 4400.

Student support

If you have a disability, learning difficulty or health condition which may affect your studies, please let us know by ticking the 'specific support needs' box on your course application form. This will allow us to make appropriate adjustments in advance and in accordance with your rights under the Equality Act 2010. For more information please visit the Student Support section of our website.