Skip to main content

Study information

Introduction to Asian Philosophy

Module titleIntroduction to Asian Philosophy
Module codePHL1010
Academic year2024/5
Module staff

Professor Giovanna Colombetti (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks


Number students taking module (anticipated)


Module description

This module introduces you to some of the most important philosophical traditions of Asia: Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. It analyzes and discusses ancient classical texts in these traditions, and looks at different conceptions of reality, selfhood, consciousness, meditation, virtue and self-cultivation. 

Module aims - intentions of the module

At the end of the module, you will be familiar with major Asian philosophical traditions, their historical and social background, and their central concepts as discussed in major classical texts. You will be aware of the existence of spiritual traditions concerned with the practice of self-cultivation, and understand the relationship between meditative practices and philosophical worldviews. 

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Competently illustrate the main tenets of different Asian philosophical traditions;
  • 2. Understand and explain key concepts in classical Indian and Chinese texts;
  • 3. Articulate your own arguments in favour of different conceptions of selfhood;
  • 4. Explain in an informed way the relation between spirituality, philosophy and meditative practices in different Asian traditions.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Analyze in a critical way different philosophical texts;
  • 6. Present and discuss, orally and in writing, a variety of philosophical concepts;

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 7. Illustrate and explain difficult ideas in writing and orally;
  • 8. Analyze complex ideas and concepts and relate them to their social context;
  • 9. Demonstrate the ability to work independently, within a limited time frame, and without access to external sources, to complete a specified task.

Syllabus plan

Whilst the module’s precise content may vary from year to year, it is envisaged that the syllabus will cover some or all of the following topics:

Indian traditions: Brahmanical and Hindu thought; Indian Buddhism.

Chinese traditions: Confucianism; Taoism.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching activity2211 x Weekly 2-hour lectures/seminars or 1 hour lecture + 1 hour seminar
Guided Independent Study60Weekly assigned readings
Guided Independent Study8Preparation for formative essay
Guided Independent Study30Preparation for summative essay 1
Guided Independent Study30Preparation for summative essay 2

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Writing sample200 words7-9Email feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Essay 1501,400 words1-9Written
Essay 2501,400 words1-9Written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Essay 1Essay (1,400 words)1-9August/September reassessment period
Essay 2Essay (1,400 words)1-9August/September reassessment period

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic texts:

Walpola Rahula, What the Buddha Taught. Grove Press, 1994.
P.J. Ivanhoe & B.W. Van Norden, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy. Hackett, 2006.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources


Key words search

Asia; Hinduism; Buddhism; Confucianism; Daoism

Credit value15
Module ECTS


Module pre-requisites


Module co-requisites


NQF level (module)


Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date