• Class Number 4557
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Esther Klein
    • Dr Esther Klein
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

This is an introductory course in Chinese philosophy. Drawing on the Chinese philosophical tradition from early Confucian and Daoist thought through to late imperial China, the course demonstrates that Chinese philosophical approaches are both interesting in their own right and potentially relevant to contemporary philosophical problems. Students will be introduced to some of the major Chinese philosophical ideas and concepts, with a focus on learning to accurately apply these ideas in real-world contexts. An understanding of the foundations of Chinese thought helps us to make explicit and self-conscious some of the radically different assumptions of Western intellectual traditions. It also provides background knowledge crucial to an informed understanding of many developments in modern and contemporary China.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the key concepts and approaches in Chinese philosophy;
  2. Accurately apply theoretical knowledge to empirical examples drawn from present-day issues;
  3. Compare philosophical thought developed in Chinese contexts with that of other intellectual traditions;
  4. Articulate and critique contrasting philosophical perspectives on a problem in the context of respectful peer interaction and debate;
  5. Create an effective and balanced presentation of a philosophical issue that employs resources from the Chinese philosophical tradition.

Research-Led Teaching

This course prompts students to actively apply resources of the premodern Chinese philosophical tradition to issues of broad contemporary relevance. The topics are designed to fit the fast-changing circumstances of the today's world, and are also drawn from current and proposed interdisciplinary research projects in philosophy and Chinese studies. The course also represents a recent shift in the nature of Chinese philosophy as a discipline, away from a purely historical or comparative approach and toward a more problem-solving based engagement with the contemporary world.

Required Resources

No prior knowledge of Chinese language or culture is required for this course. Required readings will be available electronically, with a selection of additional readings listed on Wattle. Students may choose to engage with primary sources in English translation, the original Classical Chinese, or in modern Chinese translation (where available). All required secondary source readings will be available in English.

Course updates and announcements will appear on Wattle. It is important that students regularly consult the course site and check their University email accounts for notifications.

Some sample readings (not a complete list; in the case of whole books, assigned readings will be short excerpts only)

Chan, Joseph, Confucian Perfectionism

Flavel, Sarah and Brad Hall, “State Maternalism: Rethinking Anarchist Readings of the Daodejing

Laozi ??/ Dao de jing ??? (D.C. Lau trans. Tao Te ching)

Lunyu ?? (D.C. Lau trans. Confucius: The Analects)

Mengzi ?? (D.C. Lau trans. Mencius)

Mozi ?? (John Knoblock and Jeffrey Riegel, Mozi: A Study and Translation of the Ethical and Political Writings)

Pines, Yuri, “Beasts or Humans: Pre-Imperial Origins of Sino-Barbarian Dichotomy”

Puett, Michael, To Become a God

Puett, Michael and Christine Gross-Loh, The Path: A New Way to Think About Everything

Tiwald, Justin and Bryan W. Van Norden, eds., Readings in Later Chinese Philosophy: Han Dynasty to the 20th Century

Xunzi ?? (Eric L. Hutton trans. Xunzi: The Complete Text)

Zhuangzi ?? (Brook Ziporyn trans., Zhuangzi: The Complete Writings)

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction and Background: The Robber Zhi Problem online quiz
2 Moral Cultivation 1: What is our basic (moral) nature? online quiz
3 Moral Cultivation 2: What is the best (and worst) we can do? online quiz
4 Moral Cultivation 3: How to get there? (part 1) online quiz
5 Moral Cultivation 4: How to get there? (part 2) online quiz, short essay or recording
6 Hierarchy 1: What are hierarchies based on? online quiz
7 Hierarchy 2: Gender and hierarchy online quiz
8 Hierarchy 3: Ideals of hierarchy--what are we aiming for? online quiz, short essay or recording
9 Collectivity 1: What is the origin of diversity? online quiz
10 Collectivity 2: What is 'freedom' and do we need it? online quiz
11 Collectivity 3: How can a society manage disagreement? online quiz
12 Collectivity 4: Expansion and secession online quiz

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date
Tutorial participation 10 % 01/07/2021
Online quizzes 20 % 01/07/2021
Short essays/recordings 30 % 01/07/2021
Medium essay/recording 25 % 03/06/2021
Final debate 15 % 01/07/2021

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the Academic Integrity . In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Tutorial participation

The mark will consist of a written reflection regarding a pair discussion (outside of class) and active participation in either an online or in-person tutorial class.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Online quizzes

Quizzes will be given weekly and will assess preparedness—whether you did the reading, attended or listened to the lecture, etc.—and must be completed prior to the beginning of tutorial. Out of twelve quizzes, ten will count toward the mark.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Short essays/recordings

Two short written essays (1000 words each) or recording (podcast/video, 10 minutes each) will be due at the end of weeks 5 (“Cultivation” topic) and 8 (“Hierarchy” topic); regardless of format, a bibliography must accompany your submission. If you submit a recording, you need to write a brief abstract as you might to advertise a podcast.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 03/06/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Medium essay/recording

A slightly longer essay (1500 words) or recording (podcast/video, 15 minutes) on the “Collectivity” topic will be due on the first day of the examination period; regardless of format, a bibliography must accompany your submission. If you submit a recording, you need to write a brief abstract as you might to advertise a podcast.

Assessment Task 5

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 01/07/2021
Learning Outcomes: 

Final debate

You will prepare for and participate in a group debate which will take place during the scheduled examination time. You will need to submit individually prepared materials in advance and write a brief reflection afterwards.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with.

The Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

Online Submission

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

Online quizzes, tutorial participation, final debate: late submission is not permitted.

Essays/Recordings: late submission of essays/recordings without an extension is penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information.
In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service – including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy.
If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes.

Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).

Dr Esther Klein
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Chinese philosophy, pre-modern Chinese historiography, gender in Chinese literature

Dr Esther Klein

Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Dr Esther Klein
02 6125 3207

Research Interests

Dr Esther Klein

Tuesday 15:00 16:00
Tuesday 15:00 16:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions