Basic Program of Liberal Education

Core Curriculum

The core of the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults is a four-year certificate program offering a rigorous, liberal arts curriculum that draws on the strong Socratic tradition at the University of Chicago and covers the foundations of modern Western political and social thought and literature through reading and discussion of Great Books.

Basic Program Certificate Structure

  • The Certificate consists of a four-year curriculum with one course every quarter of the Academic year (Autumn, Winter, Spring).
  • Courses meet for three hours, once a week, for ten weeks.
  • Each course consists of a 90 minutes Seminar, covering three or four texts, and a 90 minute Tutorial, which involves in-depth analysis of one or two texts. Both the Seminar and Tutorial focus on close critical reading and discussion of primary texts.
  • Students take the curriculum in order, starting with Autumn of Year 1 and progressing with their classmates in the same section from quarter to quarter and year to year.
  • Participants earn a certificate upon completion of the entire four-year curriculum, as well as some of the privileges of University of Chicago alumni.

Autumn

Week Seminar
1-3 Introduction; Sophocles, Antigone
4-6 Plato, Apology and Crito
7-10 Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Plato, Meno

 

Winter

Week Seminar
1-5 Herodotus, The History (selections)
6-10 Aeschylus, Oresteia

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics

Spring

Week Seminar
1-3 Machiavelli, The Prince
4-6 Hobbes, Leviathan (selections)
7-8 Rousseau, Second Discourse
9-10 Shakespeare, The Tempest

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Shakespeare, Tragedy

 

Autumn

Week Seminar
1-3 Sophocles, Oedipus the King
4-6 Aristotle, Poetics
7-8 Euripides, The Bacchae
9-10 Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Homer, The Iliad

 

Winter

Week Seminar
1-6 Homer, The Odyssey
7-8 Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
9-10 Woolf, A Room of One's Own

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Plato, The Republic

 

Spring

Week Seminar
1-2 Montaigne, Essays
3-4 Pascal, Pensées
5-8 Nietzche, On the Genealogy of Morals
9-10 Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Bible (Genesis, Job, Matthew)

 

Autumn

Week Seminar
1-2 Aristotle, Physics (Bk. I, ch. 1; Bk. II)
3-4 Lucretius, The Nature of Things
5-7 Newton, Principia (selections)
8-10 Darwin, On the Origin of Species (selections)

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Novel

 

Winter

Week Seminar
1-6 Virgil, The Aeneid
7-10 Augustine, Confessions

 

Week Tutorial
1-4 Euclid, Elements (Bk. I)
5-10 Descartes, Meditations

 

Spring

Week Seminar
1-3 Aquinas, Treatise on Law
4-5 Locke, Second Treatise on Government
6-10 Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Dante, Inferno

 

Autumn

Week Seminar
1-3 Plato, Symposium
4-7 Plutarch, Lives of the Noble Greeks and Romans (selections)
8-10 Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War

 

Winter

Week Seminar
1-4 Aristotle, Politics (Bks. I, III)
5-7 Smith, Wealth of Nations (selections)
8-10 Marx, Kapital (selections) and The Communist Manifesto

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Lyric Poetry

 

Spring

Week Seminar
1-2 Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Federalist 10 + 51
3-5 Declaration of the rights of Man and Citizen; Burke, Reflections on the Revolution
In France  
6 Lincoln, Gettysburg Address, Second Inaugural
7-10 Toni Morrison, Beloved

 

Week Tutorial
1-10 Plato, Phaedo