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The BA (Hons) in Buddhist Philosophy

Buddhist philosophy is a profound and intricate system of thought that has evolved over more than two millennia. It encompasses a wide range of doctrines, practices, and ethical teachings aimed at addressing fundamental questions about the nature of existence, the origins of suffering, and the path to enlightenment. Recognizing its significance, Buddhist Philosophy is a major subject at the University and is a compulsory course for all monk students.

The Buddhist Philosophy program can be pursued as a BA Honors degree over four years or as a BA General degree, available in both Sinhala and English mediums. The curriculum comprises 40 units, each delving into various aspects of Buddhism.

Curriculum Overview:

In the first year, students are introduced to the philosophical background of Buddhism. They explore the fundamental teachings of early Buddhism, including the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Path, and the concept of dependent origination. This foundational year sets the stage for a deeper understanding of Buddhist thought.

The second year focuses on Theravada Buddhist thought and the Theravada Vinaya, the code of monastic discipline. Students study selected areas of Pali canonical texts, gaining insights into the teachings and practices of the Theravada tradition. Additionally, the curriculum includes an examination of teachings from different Buddhist schools, providing a comparative perspective.

In the third year, students delve into advanced topics such as Buddhist logic, epistemology, and ethics. These components are crucial for understanding the analytical and philosophical underpinnings of Buddhism. The coursework encourages critical thinking and the application of philosophical methods to Buddhist teachings.

The fourth year is the culmination of the program. Students explore specialized topics, including Buddhist psychology, which examines the mind and mental processes from a Buddhist perspective. They also study basic concepts of Western philosophy to appreciate the cross-cultural philosophical dialogue. Courses on social problems and Buddhist resolutions highlight the practical applications of Buddhist ethics in contemporary society. Additionally, tantric Buddhism and Buddhist Nyaya (logic and debate) are covered to provide a comprehensive understanding of the diversity within Buddhist traditions.

In the final year, students are required to submit an independent dissertation on a topic related to Buddhist philosophy. This dissertation is an opportunity for students to conduct in-depth research, engage with primary sources, and contribute original insights to the field.

By the end of the program, students will have a thorough grounding in Buddhist philosophy, equipped with the knowledge and skills to engage critically with both traditional and contemporary issues in Buddhism. The rigorous academic training prepares graduates for various career paths, including academia, religious leadership, and roles in organizations dedicated to social and ethical issues.