The following is a list of works read in whole or in part in the curriculum of Thomas Aquinas College. They are not all of equal weight. Some are regarded as masterworks, while others serve as sources of opinions that either lead students to the truth or make the truth more evident by opposition to it. (In 2010, College Dean Brian T. Kelly began a series of presentations to the Board of Governors about why the curriculum includes particular authors and subjects. You can read those talks by clicking here.)


Freshman Year | Sophomore Year | Junior Year | Senior Year
Compositions | Senior Thesis

Freshman Year

  The Holy Bible
  Plato Meno, Protagoras, Gorgias, Apology, Crito, Phaedo
  Porphyry On the Predicaments (Isagoge)
  Aristotle Categories, On Interpretation, Prior Analytics, Posterior Analytics, Topics
  St. Thomas Aquinas Proemium to the Commentary on the Posterior Analytics
Natural Science
  Aristotle Parts of Animals
  DeKoninck The Lifeless World of Biology
  Fabre Souvenirs Entomologiques
  Galen On the Natural Faculties
  Harvey On the Motion of the Heart and Blood in Animals
  Linnaeus Systema Naturae
  Pascal On the Equilibrium of Liquids
  Archimedes On Floating Bodies
  Mendel Plant Hybridization
  Various Authors Scientific papers of Driesch, Gould and Marler, Tinbergen, Goethe, Virchow, von Frisch, et alia
    Measurements Manual
  Euclid Elements
    A Primer in Latin Morphology According to the “Stem Method”
Latin Readings According to the “Stem Method”
  Nesfield Aids to the Study and Composition of English
  Homer Iliad, Odyssey
  Plato Ion, Symposium, Republic
  Aeschylus Agamemnon, The Libation Bearers, Eumenides
  Sophocles Oedipus Rex, Oedipus at Colonus, Antigone
  Herodotus Histories
  Plutarch Lives (Lycurgus, Pericles, Aristides, Alcibiades, Alexander)
  Aristotle Poetics, Rhetoric
  Euripides Hippolytus
  Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War
  Aristophanes The Birds, The Clouds

Sophomore Year

  St. Augustine On Christian Doctrine, On the Spirit and the Letter, On Nature and Grace, On the Predestination of the Saints, On the Gift of Perseverance, City of God
  St. Athanasius On the Incarnation
  Gaunilo On Behalf of the Fool
  St. Anselm Proslogion, Reply to Gaunilo
  St. John Damascene An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
  Pre-Socratic Philosophers Fragments
  Aristotle Physics, De Anima
Natural Science
  Aristotle On Generation and Corruption
  St. Thomas Aquinas On the Principles of Nature, On the Combination of the Elements
  Lavoisier Elements of Chemistry
  Avogadro Masses and Proportions of Elementary Molecules
  Dalton Proportion of Gases in the Atmosphere
  Gay-Lussac Combination of Gaseous Substances
  Pascal Treatise on the Weight of the Mass of Air
  Various Authors Scientific papers of Berthollet, Couper, Lavoisier, Mendeleev, Richter, Wollaston, Cannizzaro,et alia
    Atomic Theory Manual
  Plato Timaeus
  Ptolemy Almagest
  Copernicus Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres
  Apollonius On Conic Sections
  Kepler Epitome of Copernican Astronomy, Astronomia Nova
  Archimedes On Conoids and Spheroids
    Latin Readings According to the Stem Method—Sophomore Year
  Martin of Denmark Tractas De Modis Significandi
  Horace, Cicero Selections
  St.Thomas Aquinas Selections
  Canon of the Mass  
  Virgil Aeneid
  Lucretius On the Nature of Things
  Livy The Rise of Rome
  Plutarch Lives (Marcellus, Caius Marius, Sylla, Tiberius Gracchus, Caius Gracchus, Caesar, Cato the Younger, Marcus Brutus, Comparison of Dion and Brutus)
  Cicero On Duties
  Tacitus Annals
  Epictetus Manual
  St. Augustine Confessions, On the Teacher
  Boethius Consolation of Philosophy
  Dante Divine Comedy; Inferno, Purgatory, Paradise
  Chaucer Canterbury Tales
  Spenser Faerie Queen
  St. Thomas Aquinas On the Teacher


Junior Year

  St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae: On Sacred Doctrine, On God, On Law
  Aristotle Nicomachean Ethics, Politics
Natural Science
  Descartes Principles of Philosophy
  Galileo Two New Sciences
  Newton Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy
  Viete Standard Enumeration of Geometric Results, Introduction to the Analytic Art
  Descartes Geometry
  Archimedes Quadrature of the Parabola
  Various Authors Mathematical works of Hippocrates, Archimedes, Cavalieri, Pascal, Leibniz, Bernoulli, Newton, Berkeley, Balzano,et alia
  Plato Timaeus
  Boethius On Music
  Mozart Sonatas
  Gustin Tonality
  Kalkavage On the Measurement of Tones
  Cervantes Don Quixote
  St. Thomas Aquinas On Kingship, Summa Theologiae I-II, Q. 105, Art. 1
  Machiavelli The Prince, Discourses
  Shakespeare Julius Caesar, King Richard the Second, King Henry the Fourth: Part One, Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Macbeth, Twelfth Night, The Tempest, Sonnets
  Bacon The Great Renewal, The New Organon
  Descartes Discourse on Method, Rules for the Direction of the Mind, Meditations
  Pascal Pensées
  Hobbes Leviathan
  Spinoza Theologico-Political Treatise
  Milton Paradise Lost
  Corneille Le Cid
  Racine Phaedre
  Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Second Essay on Civil Government
  Berkeley Treatise Concerning Human Knowledge
  Hume An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding
  Swift Gulliver’s Travels
  Gibbon Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
  Leibniz Discourse on Metaphysics
  Rousseau Social Contract, Discourse on the Origin of Inequality
  Kant Critique of Pure Reason
  Hamilton, Madison, Jay Federalist Papers
  Articles of Confederation, Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Lincoln-Douglas Debates


Senior Year

  St. Thomas Aquinas Summa Theologiae: On the Trinity, On the Sacraments, On the Passion of Christ
  Aristotle Physics, Metaphysics
  St. Thomas Aquinas On Being and Essence
Natural Science
  Huygens Treatise on Light
  Newton Optiks
  Maxwell A Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism
  Gilbert De Magnete
    Mechanics, Waves, and Optics Manual
    Electricity and Magnetism Manual
  Einstein Relativity: The Special and the General Theory
  Pascal Generation of Conic Sections
  Taylor Integral Calculus
  Dedekind Essay on the Theory of Numbers
  Lobachevski Geometrical Researches On The Theory Of Parallels
  Tolstoy War and Peace
  Smith Wealth of Nations
  Kant Critique of Pure Reason, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals
  Goethe Faust
  Hegel Philosophy of History, Phenomenology of Mind
  Feuerbach Essence of Christianity
  Tocqueville Democracy in America, The Old Regime and the French Revolution
  Twain Huckleberry Finn
  Austen Emma
  Conrad Heart of Darkness
  Marx Capital, Communist Manifesto, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts, German Ideology
  Engels Quantity and Quality, Negation of the Negation
  Ibsen A Doll's House
  Dostoyevski Brothers Karamazov
  Darwin Origin of Species
  Nietzsche On the Advantage and Disadvantage of History, Beyond Good & Evil
  Kierkegaard Fear and Trembling, Philosophical Fragments
  Flaubert Three Tales
  Newman Development Of Christian Doctrine
  Melville Billy Budd
  Eliot Journey of the Magi, The Waste Land
  Freud General Introduction to Psychoanalysis
  Jung Analytical Psychology
  Cather My Antonia
  St. Thomas Aquinas The Division and Methods of the Sciences
  St. Pius X Pascendi Dominici Gregis
  Leo XIII Aeterni Patris, Rerum Novarum
  Pius XII Humani Generis
  Pius XI Quadragesimo Anno
  Second Vatican Council Lumen Gentium
  O’Connor A Good Man is Hard to Find, The Enduring Chill
  Plato Phaedrus
  Pope St. John Paul II Veritatis Splendor


Writing requires both greater completeness and greater precision than does speech. On the one hand, the writer cannot make assumptions about the unknown reader; on the other hand, his prose must be efficient. The College helps students develop their writing skills through the essays they write periodically each year. Five essays are written in  freshman year, four sophomore year, and two lengthier essays are written in junior year. These essays are reviewed carefully by tutors for content as well as for grammar, style, and arrangement and development of ideas. Seniors write a more substantial “Senior Thesis”.

Senior Thesis

The Senior Thesis is an integral part of the curriculum. As compared with the other parts, it requires a greater independence on the part of the student. He frames a question of the sort the authors in the program themselves frame and, under the direction of a tutor, refines, explores, and answers that question. The student’s answer need not be ultimate, but it must not be superficial or simply the repetition of authority. The thesis is of greater length than the other compositions in the program and is defended before a committee of faculty examiners in a session open to all.

The ability to carry out such an investigation and reasonably to account for and defend its conclusions is an important aim of the program, and a successful Senior Thesis may be seen as a formal and public display that the student has begun to have such an ability in his own right.

The following titles are representative of Senior Theses:The True Method of Procedure in Biological Science

  • Obedience and Its Relationship to Charity
  • The View of Human Nature Underlying the United States Constitution
  • The Role of Suffering in Redemption
  • A Defense of the Legitimacy of the Calculus
  • The Effect of Philosophy on Language: A Consideration of the Poetry of T. S. Eliot
  • Why Should Music Be Studied Mathematically?
  • A Consideration of the Difficulties of the Special Theory of Relativity
  • The Difference between Grammar and Logic
  • Whether the Marital Union Is a Fitting Symbol of the Union of Christ and the Church
  • The Atomic Theory in View of the Physics of Aristotle
  • Whether Men Can Be Good without Grace
  • A Consideration of the Ways in Which Galileo and Newton Use the Infinite in Understanding Motion
  • An Analysis and Critique of John Locke’s Theory of the End of Government
  • Is Tonal Music Natural?
  • When Is the Rational Soul Present in Man’s Generation?
  • The Natural Law in the Declaration of Independence: A Classical Interpretation