Quick facts


Part of a philosophy course
69-70.000 (all students of second grade of higher division of high school)
45-50 hours per year/2 hours per week (8-10 hours of the course dedicated to ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of a religious education course
69-70.000 (all students of third grade of the higher division of high school)
45-50 hours per year/2 hours per week (the entire course dedicated to Christian ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)
Part of an Ancient Greek language and culture course
Compulsory only for students in the humanistic section/orientation
29-30.000 (all students of third grade of the higher division of high school)
138-150 hours per year/6 hours per week (18 hours dedicated to the Nicomachean Ethics)
Written exam, Oral exam (internally assessed)

Ethics is taught in the upper division of Greek high schools (Lykeion) as an integral part of two mandatory courses for all sections/orientations (Philosophy and Religion) and of one mandatory course for the humanistic orientation (Ancient Greek). In the case of introduction to philosophy, offered at the second grade of Lykeion, ethics is one of the main areas included in the syllabus (along with epistemology, metaphysics, political philosophy and aesthetics). Religious education at the third grade is provided as a course for students of all orientations, although students have the right to ask to be exempted from it for reasons of freedom of conscience. It builds on more basic courses presenting Christian doctrine, which are offered at the first and at the second grade. It focuses on Christian ethics and on the challenges it is confronted with in the contemporary world, drawing on the Greek Orthodox tradition, but with a more ecumenical scope. Ancient Greek, offered as part of the curriculum of the humantistic orientation at the third grade, includes the interpretation of excerpts from the text of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics.  More particularly, the content of these courses can be described as follows:

a) The chapter on ethics engages in a systematic approach to basic normative theories (utilitarianism,  Kantian deontology, Neo-Aristotelian virtue ethics), as well as to a few related metaethical queries and to methodological issues. The main purposes of the discussion  are to defend the possibility and the authority of ethics against sceptical, relativist and nihilist attempts at debunking its claims and to elaborate a synthesis of consequentialist and deontological principles with elements of virtue ethics. New textbooks also expand on the study of debates in applied ethics, especially bioethics, environmental ethics, computer ethics and business ethics. Moreover, the chapter on political philosophy lays emphasis on questions involving ethical concerns, such as respect for human rights, the limits of freedom of expression, tensions in the pursuit of  freedom and equality in contemporary liberal democracies, the core ideas in Rawls’ theory of justice, the challenge of multiculturalism, etc. Students are provided with a variety of philosophical and other texts and are encouraged to examine actual dilemmas in private and public life, also drawing on literature and film as sources of examples and thought experiments.

b) Christianity and the modern world is the title covering  central tenets of Christian ethics as they can be applied to contemporary quandaries.  There are three main thematic areas examined in the course, including the relations between religion and science (ethics of technology, biotechnology and genetics, ecological ethics), social ethics (world poverty, work ethics, loneliness in the modern world, the idea of a Christian revolution) and a global ethical vision for humanity (the quest for peace, responsibility  for justice, the pursuit of happiness, hope for the moral transformation of the world). 

c) In courses of Ancient Greek language and culture,  offered at all grades of the upper division of high school, students following the humanistic orientation (which prepares them for the state entrance exams to University departments in the Humanities and in the Social Sciences) come across ethical issues in various Greek texts, such as parts of Plato’s dialogues and of  tragedies by Aeschylus, Sophocles and Euripides. At the third grade, they have a chance to study parts of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Thus, they focus on topics such as happiness/flourishing, ethical  virtues and their relations to intellectual virtues and friendship.

There are also other courses such as sociology (which was until recently a mandatory course for all orientations at the third grade), civic education, courses of Modern Greek and some elective courses, providing occasions for ethical discussions. Students are also encouraged to form debate societies and to participate in national and international debate tournaments, which help them develop their reasoning and argumentative skills in dealing with moral  dilemmas.