Buddhist Ethics

Subject Overview

Buddhist Ethics provides an overview of Buddhist ethics in different traditions; it also examines issues arising from their application in the contemporary world. After outlining the framework of Buddhist ethics, a number of contemporary issues are reviewed and discussed using the lens of Buddhist ethical traditions: issues examined include the natural world (environment, animals, conservation), abortion, suicide, euthanasia, war, gender and sexuality, economics, social responsibility, etc. 

Increasing individual ethical behaviour is at the heart of Buddhist traditions: understanding the nature of ethical choices and behaviours is also fundamental to a sound comprehension of Buddhism. This subject presents an introduction to the major areas of ethical consideration important in Buddhist teachings and then critically investigates a range of contemporary issues in order to highlight possible contributions from—or gaps in—traditional Buddhist paradigms and perspectives.


Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the concepts, beliefs and world-views underlying the principles of ethics as presented in Buddhist traditions

  • Critically analyse fundamental issues involved in the application of Buddhist ethical principles

  • Understand the role of ethics within the traditional Buddhist doctrinal framework

  • Critically evaluate and reflect issues arising from applications of Buddhist ethical principles in a variety of contemporary contexts e.g. euthanasia, suicide, abortion, gender issues, terrorism etc

  • More generally, foster in students attributes such as critical thinking, problem solving, cultural and historical appreciation, interdisciplinary perspectives, scholarship, and oral and written communication skills


Subject Structure

This subject runs for five weeks, with the following structure:

Week 1: Pre-reading of prescribed texts
Week 2: Digital Intensive Classroom (5 days x 8 hrs/day)
Weeks 3 – 5: Submission of assessments online



Nan Tien Institute (NTI) is a private, not for profit, government accredited higher education provider offering studies in the areas of Buddhist studies, health and wellbeing, within an environment that incorporates contemplative education.

NTI offers postgraduate programs in Applied Buddhist Studies, Health and Social Wellbeing, Humanistic Buddhism, and Mental Health as well as customised Continuing Professional Development (CPD) programs and special interest subjects across the areas of meditation, mindfulness and health.

In accordance with the current restrictions our campus facilities are closed. You can continue to study online and our virtual library services remain available. Our academic and student services staff are online and by phone to assist you. Please stay safe.