Accessibility statement

Advanced Topics in Buddhist Philosophy - PHI00081M

« Back to module search

  • Department: Philosophy
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Jamie Buckland
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: M
  • Academic year of delivery: 2021-22

Module summary

This module introduces students to advanced topics in Buddhist philosophy. Students will consider the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical implications of the central teachings of the Buddha and associated Buddhist traditions.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2021-22

Module aims

  • To explore some key philosophical issues in Buddhism.

  • To provide a research-led approach to understanding and participating in contemporary debates in Buddhist philosophy.

  • To develop students' abilities to apply philosophical concepts, views, and arguments, in order to advance the understanding of intellectual problems. 

  • To develop students' presentation skills and improve their confidence in presenting complex ideas.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students should be able to explain and articulate via presentation:

  • Key teachings of the Buddha and the major schools of Buddhism.

  • The philosophical problems they give rise to.

  • Assess whether these problems can be solved using the concepts, views, and arguments of analytic Western philosophy

Students should be able to evaluate these solutions using a cost/benefit analysis with reference to Buddhist scripture, tradition, and reason (philosophical, scientific, and other secular sources of knowledge). Finally, students should be able to argue for their preferred solution, or that there is no satisfactory solution, via a verbal presentation and a written essay.

Academic and graduate skills

Students should be able to explain the concepts, views, and philosophical material.  They should be able to critically engage with these concepts, views, and arguments, and defend their own position.

Module content

Week 01: What is Buddhist Philosophy?

Week 02: Metaphysics 1: Interdependence and Impermanence

Week 03: Metaphysics 2: Emptiness

Week 04: The Self

Week 05: Consciousness

Week 07: Phenomenology

Week 08: Epistemology

Week 09: Logic and the Philosophy of Language

Week 10: Ethics


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Special assessment rules


Additional assessment information

Formative assessment: Students will give a 15-minute presentation during the Presentation Session in Week 10 of the Spring Term.

Summative assessment: Students will submit a 4,000-word essay on Monday, Week 1 of the Summer Term.


Task Length % of module mark
Essay 4000 words
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive verbal and written feedback on formative presentation work via a one-to-one meeting.  Written feedback will be provided for those who request it specifically. 

Students will receive written feedback for summative work within four weeks of submission.  There will also be the opportunity to discuss this feedback verbally.

Indicative reading

  • Garfield, J. L. [2015] Engaging Buddhism: Why It Matters to Philosophy. OUP

  • Westerhofff, J (ed.) [2016] Studies in Buddhist Philosophy: Mark Siderits. OUP

  • Siderits, M. [2007] Buddhism as Philosophy. Ashgate

  • Carpenter, A. [2014] Indian Buddhist Philosophy. Routledge

  • Gowans, C. W. [2003] Philosophy of the Buddha. Routledge

  • Edelglass, W. & Garfield, J. L. (eds.) [2009] Buddhist Philosophy: Essential Readings. OUP

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.