The Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults

Course Description

Since 1946, the Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults has engaged lifelong learners in reading, discussing, and building community around the foundational texts of literature, philosophy, and political and social science that continue to influence our lives and society today. Read, explore, and engage with these fundamental texts in our rigorous, noncredit courses, with a dedicated community of learners, led by experienced instructors. There are no tests, papers, or grades; you will instead discover, disagree with, and discuss these works just as students in the College at the University of Chicago do, but with the benefit of additional years of insight and experience to add to the conversation.

Courses meet three hours, once a week, for ten weeks. Each class session consists of a seminar, covering three or four texts, and a tutorial, which involves in-depth analysis of one or two texts. Students take the curriculum in sequence, progressing with their classmates 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.

No application is required at any time. Students register for courses one quarter at a time. Participants must study the curriculum in order: Year 1 is a pre-requisite for Year 2, and so on. We encourage students to register for Year 1 in the Autumn Quarter, but it is possible to join in later quarters.

Year 1 classes are offered, for your choice and convenience, in three different formats, and at different times in the week. Sections 23A1 and 23A8 meet IN-PERSON in downtown Chicago; all other sections meet online via Zoom. Section 23A7 splits the two 90-minute halves of class into two days, using Tuesday for the Seminar and Thursday for the Tutorial, while all other sections meet in the traditional three-hour block.

Course Outline

For specific dates, see at right under each Section: SCHEDULE AND LOCATION. Reading schedule is identical across all Sections.


Week Seminar
1 Sophocles, Antigone (opening scene will be read aloud in class)
2 Sophocles, Antigone (lines 1-625 [2nd ed.: 678])
3 Sophocles, Antigone (625-1352 [2nd ed.: 1424])
4 Plato, Apology (17a – 35e)
5 Plato, Apology (35e – 42a)
6 Plato, Crito (entire)
7 Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (Part 1)
8 Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (Parts 2 & 3)
9 Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (Parts 4 & 5)
10 Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (Part 6 & Epilogues)


Week Tutorial

Plato, Meno (three pages per week, no assignment for Week 1)

Required Texts

  • Sophocles: Sophocles I, University of Chicago Press, ISBN 978-0226311517.
  • Plato: Five Dialogues, trans. by GMA Grube, Hackett, ISBN 978-0872206335.
  • Dostoevsky: Crime and Punishment, trans. by Pevear and Volokhonsky, Vintage Press, ISBN 978-0679734505.


Books are available using the Textbook order form from the Gleacher Center Bookstore online, or by using the ISBN number to order the correct edition elsewhere.


Online registration deadline: Tuesday, September 19 at 5 pm CT

Taking a Graham School Remote Course: You will receive an invitation to join Canvas about a week before the course begins. Please accept the invitation by clicking 'Get Started' and create a log-in for Canvas using your email as the user name and create a password. Then go to the Dashboard and click on your course. Next click on Zoom Professional Education and you will see the link to "Join" your classroom. Canvas houses the course information including the course syllabus, announcements, and discussions. You will not be able to participate in your online class unless you accept the Canvas invitation and set up your account.

For help visit, Online Learning Resources to find step by step instructions.

Applies Towards the Following Certificates

Thank you for your interest in this course. Unfortunately, the course you have selected is currently not open for enrollment. Please complete a Course Inquiry so that we may promptly notify you when enrollment opens.
Required fields are indicated by .