Frequently Asked Questions

Is the course ‘religious’?

In the end, that’s for you to judge, but in our view the course is not religious as such and certainly follows no particular religion. What it certainly does do is address the spirit in humanity and doesn’t shy away from including quotations from great religious leaders where these are relevant. It’s designed to be suitable for people of all faiths – and those who follow no particular faith – and over many years this has been found to be so.

How is the course run?

Your tutor presents material, and leads a discussion based on what arises. Being practical rather than academic, the emphasis is on personal knowledge. Students are encouraged neither to accept nor to reject the ideas put forward, but to test them in practice for themselves, in the light of their own experience.

In this way, for those who wish, the whole week between classes can become a learning opportunity. As the course continues, the most vivid and valuable part of the evening is often sharing what has been seen in daily life between individual sessions.

As in so much of life, you get out of it what you put in.

Who are the students?

Our students represent a broad spectrum of people from all walks of life. This diversity holds true for all School locations.

Who are the tutors?

The School has always operated on the principle of ‘learn and teach’. Our tutors are appointed on the basis of having a thorough, practical understanding of the philosophic principles. They have attended the School for a number of years and demonstrated an appreciation of the practice of philosophy in their daily lives. They come from all walks of life and many different professions, but all share the same love of passing on knowledge in order that people can get the most out of their lives.

An important principle is that all tutors, the course director and administrators also remain students as well, since the learning process never ends. Another principle in the School is that no one is paid for tutoring.

Do I need any previous qualifications?

 No. The course is intended for everyone, regardless of education, occupation, race, political or religious belief.

Do I get an academic credit or certificate?

 No. This is not an academic course and there are no exams.

As the word philosophy (meaning ‘love of wisdom’) implies, the purpose of this study is to gain the wisdom that will allow you to lead a more useful and rewarding life.

What do I need to bring with me?

Just an open and enquiring mind, and a willingness to consider the philosophic principles being investigated. At the end of each evening we’ll give you a hand-out with the key points and any quotations used.

What if I can’t manage to come every week?

While we of course encourage regular attendance, it’s quite normal for students to miss one or two evenings. This should not be a problem as each week we give a brief recap of the previous week and also provide a detailed hand-out which captures the key points.

It’s always appreciated if you can let your tutor know in advance, by phone or email or, if it’s a last-minute hitch, sending him or her a text message. 

It is possible in the Introductory course and sometimes possible in other terms to attend at another time if you have to miss your regular group session.

Always ask your tutor to see what is possible.

What do you mean by ‘practical philosophy’?

The course is practical in the sense that it is designed to be of direct use in our everyday lives. The intention is to stimulate enquiry and through this expand the way we look at the world and ourselves, conferring happiness and freedom.

Will the course give me a good basic understanding of all the main philosophical traditions and approaches?

No. As we try to make clear in our communications, the course doesn’t aim or claim to cover all the main philosophies or philosophers. Instead it draws on those found in practice to be most conducive to the discovery of happiness and truth. However, along the way, we hope you will learn about some of the world’s great philosophers and teachers, eastern as well as western, including Socrates, Plato, Confucius, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Epicurus, Emerson, Shankara, Vivekananda and many others.

Am I expected to go along with everything I hear on the course?

Absolutely not! In fact, we ask that you neither accept nor reject any of the ideas, but rather test them yourself, in the light of your own experience.

Can I talk about what we discuss on these evenings?

Yes of course! Friends and family will want to know, so tell them as much as they need without boring them rigid! Where possible, speak from your own direct experience: what you have personally discovered, experienced, felt, observed always carries the ‘ring of truth’ and this is powerful. We would only ask that you respect each other’s confidentiality by not discussing outside of the group the personal observations of your fellow students.

Is this a systematic series of courses that continue each term?

Yes. The philosophy programme consists of a series of courses that build upon concepts taught in previous courses. Read More

Am I expected to join or sign up for anything?

No, never. No matter how long a student stays in the School, they only ever enrol for another term. Students come and go all the time, and many who leave return years later.

How are your course fees used?

We are a not-for-profit educational organisation and the purpose of our course fees is to cover our costs so that we can continue to offer our courses to the public. Our fees are kept to a practical minimum and we believe they compare very favourably with those charged by other organisations, mainly because no one is paid for their work.

Nevertheless, we still need to hire venues and advertise our courses, these two being our biggest areas of expense. We also obtain some administrative support and need to purchase new equipment (such as flip-charts) from time-to-time.

Are there any opportunities to socialise with the group?

Social interaction is all part of the fun of being in a philosophy group and a natural consequence of meeting new, interesting people. Obviously this is an individual matter, but generally encouraged. We also organise events from time to time which give opportunities for meeting fellow students.

Are there opportunities to get involved as a volunteer?

Voluntary work, sometimes known as ‘second line of work ’ or ‘practice’, plays a central role in the life and work of the School. Read More.

The main opportunity is to volunteer to help on a second evening, but other options are available. Please speak to your tutor if you would like to know more.