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Studies go deep

The Lingnan University is offering a master of arts degree in practical philosophy to help busy Hongkongers find meaning to their lives.

Programme co-ordinator Law Nga-chun says Hongkongers have gone through traumatic experiences in recent times, such as the severe acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in 2003 and the global financial crisis of 2008. In such troubled times, many have placed an increased emphasis on seeking wisdom and guidance.

"Most programmes in continuing education target narrowly defined objectives which are directed to earning professional qualifications and being functional. But [the master's programme in philosophy] provides students with the knowledge and capacity to reflect upon in-depth, universal themes," he says.

The programme emphasises the practical aspect of philosophy and aims to train students in a wide range of methods of philosophical inquiry and argumentation.

"We want to lead students to reason efficiently about problems of evaluation and understanding. This will stimulate students to reflect upon issues such as the meaning of life, the way they are used to living, and the practical path they would like to adopt," Law says.

Students come from various sectors and include business executives, professionals and retirees. Suitability for the course is not linked to background, however. Anyone who has encountered puzzling or difficult times in their lives and would like to explore theories as to the meaning of it are suitable for the course. The master's in philosophy degree is a two-year, part-time course - the maximum period for graduation is four years. Applicants should have an honours degree in any field from a recognised institution and have had some basic training in philosophy.