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Module descriptions

7AAN2096 Introduction to Chinese Philosophy


Credit value: 20
Module tutor: Prof Michael Beaney


  • Summative assessment: one 4,000-word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: one 2,000-3,000-word essay

Students are reassessed in the failed elements of assessment and by the same methods as the first attempt.

Teaching pattern: 

  • Weeks 1–2: one one-hour lecture and one one-hour seminar each week
  • Weeks 3–5: no teaching
  • Weeks 6–9: two one-hour lectures and two one-hour seminars each week

Pre-requisites: none
Sample syllabus: draft sample syllabus 2017-18

After two introductory lectures outlining the nature of Chinese philosophy and its relation to Chinese language, we will consider the following main philosophers and schools:

Confucius; Mozi; Mencius; Laozi and early Daoism; Neo-Mohism and the School of Names; Zhuangzi; Xunzi; Legalism.

Further information

Module aims
This course is intended as an introduction to ancient Chinese philosophy, offering an overview of its main schools and exploring some of its main themes. One of our aims will be to demonstrate the relevance of an understanding of ancient Chinese philosophy to contemporary Western philosophy.
Learning outcomes
The main learning outcome is an understanding of some of the main ideas and debates of ancient Chinese philosophy and an appreciation of their relevance to contemporary Western philosophy.
Past syllabi

More detailed information on the current year’s module (including the syllabus for that year) can be accessed on KEATS by all students and staff. 

Core reading

Preparatory reading:

Lai, Karyn L., 2008, An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, Cambridge University Press

Van Norden, Bryan W., 2011, Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy, Hackett

Set texts:

Ivanhoe, Philip J. and Bryan W. Van Norden, (eds.), 2005, Readings in Classical Chinese Philosophy, 2nd edn., Hackett

Mou, Bo, (ed.), 2009, History of Chinese Philosophy, Routledge

Additional recommended core reading:

Graham, A. C., 1989, Disputers of the Tao, Chicago: Open Court

Hansen, Chad, 1992, A Daoist Theory of Chinese Thought, Oxford University Press

Blank space

The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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