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Level 5

5AANB091 Introduction to Chinese Philosophy


Credit value: 15
Module tutor: Professor Michael Beaney


  • Summative assessment: 1 x 2,500 word essay (100%)
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay


  • Summative assessment: 2 x 2,000 word essays (50% each)
  • Formative assessment: 1 x 2,000 word essay

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

IMPORTANT - 2019/20 teaching pattern: 

  • In weeks 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 there will be 2 lectures and 2 seminars in each of these weeks.
  • There will be no teaching in weeks 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10.

Pre-requisites: none

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.

Core reading

Set texts:

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

Additional recommended core reading:

  • Lai, Karyn L., 2008, An Introduction to Chinese Philosophy, 2nd edn., Cambridge University Press
  • Van Norden, Bryan W., 2011, Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy, Hackett

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 between years.

module availability
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