History of Ancient Greece: Rise of Greek City-State
Phillips is one of the best professors I've had at UCLA. He is not friendly. He discourages questions during during his lectures, is stern with his rules, and will not take kindly to attempts by students to act buddy-buddy. He purposefully exudes an aura of aloofness, but if you take one of his classes you will quickly realize that he has every right to do so. That said, top tier professors are not obligated to be your friend. Phillips is quite obviously a master of his field; he effortlessly rails off ancient Greek quotes, and lays out Greek history in painstaking detail, mostly from the top of his head. If you do approach him with detailed questions during office hours or after class, he will undoubtedly have a straightforward answer. This is how UCLA professors should be. As others have stated, his lectures are whirlwind affairs. I type upwards of 110 WPM, and I still have trouble keeping up on my off days. However, the lectures progress logically and are incredibly well put together. He shapes classes in the form of an outline, and he speaks in a clear, monotone voice that ensures you won't miss what he says. Despite speaking at a breakneck pace for fifty minutes at a time, almost every piece of information he gives is relevant--a welcome relief from the tendencies of most professors. His occasional forays into humor are dry but generally hilarious. His style of history focuses on the wars and political intrigue of ancient Greece, a perspective that is all too rarely skipped these days in favor of "seeing through the eyes" of ancient civilizations. He touches on Greek culture when it is relevant, but you're not going to learn much about Socrates and Plato. This, in my opinion, is for the better. The class is not particularly easy, but if you want an A you can get it. The upside of Phillips' courses is that his lectures are entirely parallel with the assigned books. I have received A's in both classes taken despite never dusting off the textbook. His study guides are hefty, and he expects you to remember large amounts of information (especially dates), but he gives you everything you need to succeed in lecture. Take good notes and give yourself three nights of moderate studying, and you will rock his tests. Despite his statements otherwise, he is not that hard of a grader. I was not particularly interested in the Greeks pre-Phillips, but he makes Greek history into a very badass and interesting narrative. If you enjoy history, you should definitely take a Phillips course.