The University of Newcastle, Australia
Not currently offered
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.


Not currently offered.

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 religion, philosophy and the history of ideas.


The course will investigate suffering through a range of key thinkers that may include: Gottfried Leibniz; Immanuel Kant; Friedrich Nietzsche; Arthur Schopenhauer; Nagarjuna; Simone Weil; Rene Girard; Emanuel Levinas; Melissa Raphael; and, Emil Fackenheim .

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%)