PP3CP-Chinese Philosophy

Module Provider: Philosophy
Number of credits: 10 [5 ECTS credits]
Terms in which taught: Spring term module
Non-modular pre-requisites:
Modules excluded:
Current from: 2018/9

Module Convenor: Prof John Preston

Email: j.m.preston@reading.ac.uk

Type of module:

Summary module description:

This module introduces students to the major figures in Chinese philosophy, including Confucius, Mozi, Mencius, Lao Tzu, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. We will look at central texts from each of these thinkers in detail, and consider relations not only between their ideas but also between their ideas and those of notable philosophers from the Western philosophical tradition.


The programme of study in Philosophy is specifically designed to introduce you to progressive intellectual challenges and to consolidate your previous experience at each new level. This module fits into our graduated, supervised programme for developing independent-learning skills. It builds on our Part 2 provision in particular by deepening your understanding of the history of philosophy, in this case Chinese philosophy, across core areas such as epistemology, metaphysics, as well as moral, social and political philosophy. 

Assessable learning outcomes:

By the end of this module, you will be able to relate the work of renowned Chinese philosophers to that of other such thinkers, and to philosophers in the Western philosophical tradition. Your oral skills will be improved by presentation of material on a given topic in the seminar section of this module and group interaction will be encouraged by discussion and questioning in both lectures and seminars. 

Additional outcomes:

You will gain an overview of key thinkers in the Chinese philosophical tradition, including at least Confucius, Mozi, Mencius, Lao Tzu, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, and Han Feizi. This will provide you with a valuable perspective on other topics studied in your philosophy degree, notably in metaphysics, epistemology, and moral and social philosophy. The material to be covered will be treated both from an analytic and an exegetical perspective. The module thereby trains both logico-analytic and hermeneutic skills.

Outline content:

The module begins with an introduction to the background of the thinkers in question. This is followed by an introduction to central texts such as the I Ching, the Analects of Confucius, the Daodejing, and the best-known texts of other important Chinese thinkers. We will look primarily at their claims about reality, knowledge, the mind, and social/political organisation.

Global context:

The module introduces students to the central texts and ideas of the world’s most long-standing philosophical tradition, the Chinese philosophical tradition. It thereby conveys an understanding of some of the underpinnings of Chinese thought, continued interest in figures from that tradition (and its offspring) within China meaning that it is relevant to Chinese thinking right up to the present day. 

Brief description of teaching and learning methods:

The module is taught by lectures and seminars. Students are expected to attend 10 hours of lectures and 5 hours of seminars during the term in which the module’s lecture and seminar classes take place. All students are required to write a single essay from a list of questions supplied by the module convenor. In addition, students will be required to write a short précis of the topic for discussion in each seminar class. Students are encouraged to be active in all classes, asking questions and trying to answer the questions posed by others. A reading list and sample questions will be given out at the start of the course.

Contact hours:
  Autumn Spring Summer
Lectures 10
Seminars 5
Guided independent study 85
Total hours by term 100.00
Total hours for module 100.00

Summative Assessment Methods:
Method Percentage
Written assignment including essay 100

Summative assessment- Examinations:

Summative assessment- Coursework and in-class tests:

One written assignment, due in week 11 of the term in which the module is taught. 

Formative assessment methods:

Students will write a short précis of the topic for discussion for every seminar class. Some classes may involve quizzes.

Penalties for late submission:
The Module Convener will apply the following penalties for work submitted late:

  • where the piece of work is submitted after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): 10% of the total marks available for that piece of work will be deducted from the mark for each working day[1] (or part thereof) following the deadline up to a total of five working days;
  • where the piece of work is submitted more than five working days after the original deadline (or any formally agreed extension to the deadline): a mark of zero will be recorded.

  • The University policy statement on penalties for late submission can be found at: http://www.reading.ac.uk/web/FILES/qualitysupport/penaltiesforlatesubmission.pdf
    You are strongly advised to ensure that coursework is submitted by the relevant deadline. You should note that it is advisable to submit work in an unfinished state rather than to fail to submit any work.

    Assessment requirements for a pass:

    A mark of 40% overall. 

    Reassessment arrangements:

    Written assignment, to be completed in August/September.

    Additional Costs (specified where applicable):

    Last updated: 20 April 2018


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