Module Details

The information contained in this module specification was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change, either during the session because of unforeseen circumstances, or following review of the module at the end of the session. Queries about the module should be directed to the member of staff with responsibility for the module.
Code PHIL367
Coordinator Dr CJ Bartley
Year CATS Level Semester CATS Value
Session 2023-24 Level 6 FHEQ First Semester 15


To investigate what is distinctive about classical Chinese approaches to questions of ontology, social harmony, personal morality and soteriology. To examine the ways in which philosophy in Classical Chinese civilisation develops in the Hundred Schools period, with particular attention to the dialogue between Confucians and Daoists.

Learning Outcomes

(LO1) Students will be able to engage in informed discussions about the concepts and categories in which philosophical discussions were conducted in ancient China.

(LO2) Students will develop abilities in developing and contextualising new information about other worldviews.

(LO3) Students will be enabled to assimilate alternative cultural perspectives from which to view their own traditions.

(LO4) Students will be able to explain and evaluate some of the main theories propounded in the classical period of Chinese thought.

(LO5) Students will be able to discuss the problem of cultural relativism informed by an understanding of a particular alien pattern of thinking.

(LO6) Students will be able to relate classical Chinese thought to European philosophical interests.

(S1) Students will develop abilities to read and understand ancient texts in English translation.

(S2) Students will improve their ability to identify the issues that underlie debates.

(S3) Students will develop the confidence to consider previously unfamiliar ideas and approaches.

(S4) Students will develop their ability to identify presuppositions and to reflect critically upon them.

(S5) Students will develop a facility to compare and evaluate categories of thought from different cultures.

(S6) Students will enhance their written and communication skills.

(S7) Students will develop their ability to work independently.

(S8) Students will develop an ability to write in a manner that accords with professional standards and expectations.



Confucius: humanism and civilisation. Humans flourish through participation in traditions of culture. Social harmony is best secured by a charismatic leader who exemplifies virtues.  Laozi and the Dao de jing: the aristocratic reaction to Confucian ideals. Zhuangzi: the critique of humanist Confucian ideals as narrowly anthropocentric. Morality is a human construct. Mencius: the first phase of the Confucian response to the Daoist view that traditional morality is conventional. Everyday morality is grounded in human nature.  Xunzi: the second phase of the response. Morality is not grounded in facts about human nature but has to be learned from tradition. Han Feizi: the pragmatist challenge to the view that effective government depends upon the monarch's virtuous character. Effective government involves coercive measures. Mozi: the utilitarian challenge to traditional morality. The rationalist critique of the notion that tradition deli vers values that have stood the test of time.

Teaching and Learning Strategies

Teaching Method 1
11 Live 1 hour lectures (conducted online when required). Lectures are tutor-led activities, offering a map of the syllabus and a framework for independent study. Students are encouraged to engage actively with lectures by, for example: (i) asking during the session; (ii) reflecting on and responding to questions posed to them; (iii) producing questions and notes on issues for subsequent discussion in seminars.
Attendance Recorded:

Teaching Method 2 - Seminar
Description: 11 x 1 hour seminar. Seminars are opportunities for critical and applied learning based on set readings, and facilitated by the tutor. Seminars thus allow students to respond to tutor- and peer-set questions, deepen understanding, apply ideas, develop arguments and build confidence through discussion. One or two students take the lead each week through peer-teaching, delivering presentations based on their own enquiries and identification of questions and topics.
Attendance Recorded: Yes

Teaching Schedule

  Lectures Seminars Tutorials Lab Practicals Fieldwork Placement Other TOTAL
Study Hours 11


Timetable (if known)              
Private Study 128


EXAM Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Online written exam (seen) (IF HYBRID/ ONLINE) There is a resit opportunity. This is an anonymous assessment.  24    60       
CONTINUOUS Duration Timing
% of
Penalty for late
Essay There is a resit opportunity. Non-standard penalty applies for late submission - Late submission is not possible This is an anonymous assessment.    30       
Presentation This is not an anonymous assessment. Reassessment opportunity: Yes    10       

Recommended Texts

Reading lists are managed at Click here to access the reading lists for this module.