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Module VPR-3319:
Comp. Philosophy: East/West

Module Facts

Run by School of History, Philosophy and Social Sciences

20 Credits or 10 ECTS Credits

Semester 2

Organiser: Dr Joshua Andrews

Overall aims and purpose

Historically, the East was seen as a distinct and self-contained world, comprising a culture and philosophy that was regarded as strange and mysterious. Today, in an atmosphere of growing existential interest, the East has become a major source of philosophical insight. In this module, students will take a comparative journey through the main philosophical ideals and beliefs that have been prevalent in the West and the East for hundreds of years. By adopting a comparative approach, students will engage sources from cross cultural perspectives. Therefore, the goal of the module is to cross philosophical boundaries and explore the influence of each philosophical tradition. Eastern philosophies have become attractive in the West as they appear non-dogmatic, organic and visceral. In contrast, the West has been plagued by dogmatic doctrine and rigid practices, which conceal a highly rich and refined philosophical tradition. This makes it vital to compare the two philosophical systems.

Course content

This module seeks to explore two distinct philosophical traditions: Eastern and Western. Framing the module in a comparative way enables students to identify key relationships and differences that relate to major philosophical themes. In particular, the module begins by defining the comparative philosophical approach, which will be used throughout the course as the means to study the East and the West. The vast majority of the module will be dedicated to examining different metaphysical and ethical concerns. The module will explore several key thematic notions: (1) Reason and Faith (ignorance, knowledge, causation, scepticism, revelation and divinity); (2) Reality (origins, existence, monism, dualism, pluralism and naturalism); (3) Virtue (tradition, divinity, rites, human nature and altruism); (4) Mind (enlightenment, emptiness, transcendence, introspection and immanence).

Assessment Criteria


D-: Shows some knowledge of key areas of the module with acceptable presentation of arguments.


B: Shows detailed knowledge of key areas covered in the module with the arguments presented in a logical and coherent way.


A: Shows comprehensive and very detailed understanding of the material covered in the module, based on extensive background reading.

Learning outcomes

  1. Construct a sustained argument and develop intellectual flexibility in assessing concrete situations and issues, demonstrating a variety of study skills (e.g. critical discussion in seminars and systematic argument construction in essays and exams)

  2. Conduct an analysis of competing philosophical theories and arguments

  3. Critically distinguish between the major philosophical ideals of the West and the East and place these ideals into a philosophical framework

  4. Critically assess different philosophical approaches by contrasting and comparing the main philosophical traditions in the East and West

  5. Demonstrate critical knowledge of comparative philosophy theories and arguments and be able to apply these theories to both the Western and Eastern traditions

Assessment Methods

Type Name Description Weight
ESSAY Essay 50
Written assignment, including essay Text Analysis 50

Teaching and Learning Strategy

Lecture 24
Private study 176

Transferable skills

  • Literacy - Proficiency in reading and writing through a variety of media
  • Computer Literacy - Proficiency in using a varied range of computer software
  • Self-Management - Able to work unsupervised in an efficient, punctual and structured manner. To examine the outcomes of tasks and events, and judge levels of quality and importance
  • Exploring - Able to investigate, research and consider alternatives
  • Information retrieval - Able to access different and multiple sources of information
  • Inter-personal - Able to question, actively listen, examine given answers and interact sensitevely with others
  • Critical analysis & Problem Solving - Able to deconstruct and analyse problems or complex situations. To find solutions to problems through analyses and exploration of all possibilities using appropriate methods, rescources and creativity.
  • Presentation - Able to clearly present information and explanations to an audience. Through the written or oral mode of communication accurately and concisely.
  • Teamwork - Able to constructively cooperate with others on a common task, and/or be part of a day-to-day working team
  • Management - Able to utilise, coordinate and control resources (human, physical and/or financial)
  • Argument - Able to put forward, debate and justify an opinion or a course of action, with an individual or in a wider group setting
  • Self-awareness & Reflectivity - Having an awareness of your own strengths, weaknesses, aims and objectives. Able to regularly review, evaluate and reflect upon the performance of yourself and others
  • Leadership - Able to lead and manage, develop action plans and objectives, offer guidance and direction to others, and cope with the related pressures such authority can result in

Courses including this module