Available in 2022
Course code



10 units


2000 level

Course handbook


Suffering has provided one of the richest touchstones for human thought. For centuries people have sought to reflect upon painful experiences that in many cases defied meaningful description. The course investigates diverse reflections upon the nature of human and other forms of suffering. It develops comparative methodologies in the academic study of religion and philosophy in order to help students evaluate divergent philosophical and religious viewpoints on the topic.



  • Semester 2 - 2022

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the course students will be able to:

1. Evaluate diverse reflections upon human and other forms of suffering;

2. Critically analyse key categories for understanding suffering;

3. Apply comparative methodologies to different accounts of suffering;

4. Employ writing, research and information technology skills appropriate to studies of philosophy, religion, and the history of ideas.


The course will investigate suffering through a range of key thinkers that may include: Gottfried Leibniz; Al Ghazali; Immanuel Kant; Arthur Schopenhauer; Nagarjuna; William James; Simone Weil; Emmanuel Levinas; Hannah Arendt; and, Rene Girard.

Assessment items

Case Study / Problem Based Learning: Comparative approach to example case (30%)

Essay: Research essay on a chosen thinker (40%)

Journal: Reflections upon topics and readings (30%)

Contact hours



Online 2 hour(s) per Week for 12 Weeks

The University of Newcastle acknowledges the traditional custodians of the lands within our footprint areas: Awabakal, Darkinjung, Biripai, Worimi, Wonnarua, and Eora Nations. We also pay respect to the wisdom of our Elders past and present.