You gain a systematic historical and cross-cultural understanding of a wide-range of philosophical traditions as well as modules exploring how various philosophies, ideas and forms of life have ‘gone global,’ both historically (through processes like empire, migration and cultural exchange) and in the contemporary era through the impact of mass media and globalisation.
Global Philosophies is offered by the Department of Religious Studies, within Kent’s School of European Culture and Languages. Staff in the department have a range of interests in the field, including expertise in various world religions, the history of ideas, Asian studies and different traditions of philosophical thought, providing research-informed teaching on the various strands of world intellectual thought.
The programme is taught at our Canterbury campus, with strong transport links to mainland Europe.
Our degree programme
Global Philosophies at Kent is a varied programme covering world philosophical traditions, encouraging cultural and historical understanding and awareness of ancient and contemporary phases of globalisation.
In your first year, you take two core modules, The Global Search for Meaning and Ethics, Society and the Good Life. You also take introductory modules in either South Asian (Hindu and Buddhist) or East Asian (Confucian, Daoist, Shinto) traditions. In your second year, you take a further compulsory module, Understanding Global Philosophies, exploring methodological issues in cross-cultural study.
You also have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of modules offered within the School of European Cultures and Languages and the Faculty of Humanities in areas related to philosophy, classics and history. You will be introduced to a wide range of authors, literary texts and philosophical traditions from different time periods and cultural contexts.
At all stages of your degree it is possible to choose ‘elective’ modules from across the Faculty of Humanities. You can also apply to take a placement module, where you can gain teaching experience in a secondary school. The placement modules are subject to a selection process.
Year or term abroad
You can apply to spend a whole year or just a term abroad as part of your degree programme.Working or studying abroad is a great opportunity to discover a new culture and demonstrates to future employers that you have the enthusiasm to succeed in a new environment. You don’t have to make a decision before you enrol at Kent but certain conditions apply. See Kent’s Go Abroad pages for more details.
It is also possible to spend a year on placement in the UK, gaining valuable workplace experience and increasing your professional contacts. Have a look at the Course structure or the Placement Year information from the Faculty of Humanities for more details.
You are usually taught in small groups, with most modules involving either two or three hours per week in class, plus individual consultations with teachers as well as sessions on computing and library skills.
Stage 1 modules are normally assessed by 100% coursework. At Stages 2 and 3, some modules are assessed by 100% coursework (such as essays), others by a combination of formal examination and coursework.
Knowledge and understanding
You gain knowledge and understanding of:
- A wide range of thinkers and texts and intellectual traditions from different periods and cultures, from the ancient world to the present day, including texts and thinkers from Asian, African, Anglo-American, and European contexts
- The cultural, historical and social contexts in which traditions of intellectual thought occur
- The problems inherent in interpreting a translated text
- Traditions of intellectual thought
- The history of ideas, globally conceived
- The macro-historical factors (such as empire, processes of globalisation and intercultural exchange) that have facilitated the transnational circulation and transformation of ideas
- Critical theory and its applications, understood within its historical contexts
- The study of philosophical ideas and traditions in relation to other disciplines
You gain the following intellectual abilities:
- Listening to and absorbing of the oral transmission of complicated data
- Careful reading of philosophical works and theoretical material
- Reflecting clearly and critically on oral and written sources, using powers of analysis and imagination
- Marshalling a complex body of information
- Remembering relevant material and bringing it to mind when needed
- Constructing cogent arguments
- Formulating independent ideas and defending them in a plausible manner
- Presenting arguments in written form in a time-limited context (examinations)
You gain subject-specific skills in the following:
- Enhanced skills in the close critical analysis of philosophical texts
- A critical understanding of transcultural modes of reception and circulation of ideas
- Improved intercultural competencies
- Informed critical understanding of the variety of methodological and theoretical approaches to the study of global philosophies
- Ability to articulate knowledge and understanding of texts, concepts and theories relating to the study of philosophies
- Sensitivity to the challenges of comparative and cross-cultural analysis
- Sensitivity to the problems of translation and cultural difference
- Well-developed language use and awareness, including a grasp of standard critical terminology
- Articulate responsiveness to a variety of cultural and historical forms of philosophical reflection
- Appropriate scholarly practice in the presentation of formal written work, in particular in bibliographic and annotational practices
- Understanding of how cultural norms, assumptions and practices influence philosophical reflections
- Appreciation of the value of collaborative intellectual work in developing critical judgement
You gain transferable skills in the following areas:
- Developed powers of communication and thecapacity to argue a point of view, orally and in written form, with clarity, organisation and cogency
- Enhanced confidence in the efficient presentation ofideas designed to stimulate critical debate
- Developed critical acumen
- The ability to assimilate and organise substantialquantities of complex information of diverse kinds
- Competence in the planning and execution ofessays and project-work
- Enhanced skills in critical analyses
- Enhanced capacity for independent thought,intellectual focus, reasoned judgement, and self-criticism
- Enhanced skills in collaborative intellectual work,including more finely tuned listening skills
- The ability to understand, interrogate and apply avariety of theoretical positions and weigh theimportance of alternative perspectives
- Research skills, including scholarly informationretrieval skills
- IT skills: word-processing, PowerPoint, email communication,the ability to access electronic data
The programme aims to:
- promote the study of intellectual thought from across the globe ranging from classical Asia (India, China, Japan), Africa, the Middle East and Europe (such as Greek, Roman) to modern analytic and European continental philosophy
- enable students to develop a systematic historical and cross-cultural understanding of a wide range of different philosophical traditions and the ways in which they have developed and, in some cases interacted;
- develop students’ abilities to evaluate critically the mechanisms involved in the international circulation and reception of ideas;
- encourage students to identify and develop their own interests and expertise within the field of global philosophies;
- encourage students to engage critically and systematically with cross-cultural approaches to the study of philosophical ideas;
- develop students’ understanding and critical appreciation of questions pertaining to translation;
- encourage an awareness of the cultural conditions and historical context in which diverse systems of intellectual thought develop;
- encourage an awareness of the impact of globalisation on different worldviews and traditions of thought;
- develop students’ abilities to argue a point of view with clarity and cogency, both orally and in written form;
- develop further students’ intercultural competencies;
- offer students the experience of a variety of teaching styles and approaches to the study of global philosophies;
- develop students’ independent critical thinking and judgement;
- provide a basis for the study of philosophies at a higher level;
- provide a basis in knowledge and skills for those intending to undertake employment in fields requiring an appreciation of cultural diversity and different worldviews across the globe; provide students with the opportunity to develop more general skills and competences so that they can respond positively to the challenges of the workplace or of postgraduate education.