How are the courses run?

In the Philosophy course a tutor presents material, and leads a discussion based on what arises. Being practical rather than academic, the emphasis is on personal knowledge and experience. 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.

The approach to the Economics course is similar to that for Philosophy.  While there is inevitably a certain amount of theory that needs to be examined, this is kept to a realistic minimum, and students are strongly encouraged throughout the course to observe economic behaviour both in themselves and in the communities in which they live, and to consider what motivates and governs their own economic activity.

In this way, for both courses, the whole week between classes can become a learning opportunity.

As the courses continue, the most vivid and instructive moments often arise from sharing what has been seen in daily life between the individual sessions.

Do I need any previous qualifications?

No, each course is intended for everyone, regardless of education, occupation, race, political or religious belief.  Students frequently find that the wide range of backgrounds amongst those attending and contributing to discussions are especially helpful for everyone’s progress.

What do I need to bring with me?

Just an open and enquiring mind, and an interest in the subject matter.  You may take notes if you wish (on a few occasions this is suggested), but it is more important to engage as fully as possible with the discussion, both with the tutor and your fellow students.  At the end of each evening a handout with key points and any quotations used is provided.

Who are the course tutors?

Our philosophy tutors have all been studying in the School for some time.  All have considerable experience of applying the lessons of Philosophy and/or Economics to their everyday 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 expand their horizons and feel freer to express themselves. No one is paid for tutoring.

Will I get a certificate or qualification?

No, this is not an academic course. There are no exams.

Are there any trial sessions?


No, however the School understands that some potential students may be uncertain whether the course on which they are enrolling is suitable for them.  We seek to make the nature of the course apparent in the promotional literature provided, but it is only through attending the course over several weeks that its nature can be fully appreciated.  We are therefore happy to make the following undertaking:

Any student may receive a full refund of the course fee they have paid if they decide, for whatever reason, not to continue beyond the first three weeks.

[Please note that this does not apply to the £10.00 administration charge paid while the FREE introductory courses are being offered].

If the student decides not to continue at the end of the first session, their cheque or cash will simply be returned to them, in return for the receipt they were given.  If they have paid through the web-site by PayPal, they should let their tutor know that they wish to discontinue the course and request a refund, which will be made to their payment card as quickly as possible.  After the second or third week, they may return their receipt (or a copy) and a cheque will be sent to their address, or a PayPal refund will be made, as appropriate.  If sending the receipt by post, please address it to The Treasurer, The School of Philosophy,18 Chester Street, Edinburgh, EH3 7RA.

No refunds will be made after the first three weeks of term.  However, if a student needs subsequently to discontinue the course for unavoidable reasons, they would usually be offered the opportunity to rejoin the course during a future term from where they left off, without further payment for that term.

Who runs the course?

The courses are run by the School of Philosophy Scotland, a registered educational charity and a branch of the School of Economic Science, founded in London in 1937.

We are a centre of spiritual and practical knowledge and enquiry. Our main aim is to help individuals lead a fuller, richer and more useful life.

The School in Scotland is run on an entirely voluntary basis by its students, without remuneration.  Apart from a small administrative staff, the same is true of our parent body in London.  The governing body of the School, known as the Fellowship of the School of Economic Science, comprises over 200 of the School’s students who each year appoint an Executive Committee from amongst their number to deal with day-to-day management.  Again, no member of the Fellowship, including the Executive Committee, receives any remuneration.  The Executive Committee delegates most aspects of the running of its UK branches, including the School of Philosophy in Scotland, to its Branch Leaders.

All matters relating to tutoring in the School within the United Kingdom are led by the Senior Tutor, Donald Lambie, who took over from the School’s founder, Leon Maclaren, on his death in 1994.   Mr Lambie decides the direction and content of course material and studies, deals with the appointment of tutors and other related issues.  Again, within Scotland, these matters are dealt with on a day-to-day basis by the Branch Leader under the overall direction of the Senior Tutor.

The School works according to the principle of “learn and teach”: tutors remain as students and continue to attend their own weekly groups.

Does the School offer further studies in practical philosophy after the introductory course?

Yes, for those who wish. Some people find that the introductory practical philosophy course, which is intended to be of real value in its own right, satisfies their interest.  Others want to continue their studies. The School caters for this, offering additional courses and the chance to penetrate further the great questions of life. This can last for another term, another year, or longer.  However long or short a time people may wish to study in the School, the hope is that everyone will find something of true and lasting value.

The introductory Economics with Justice course is also designed to cover a wide range of basic topics during the first term.  However, those who wish may continue the course for a further two terms.  Beyond this there is an opportunity to join the Economics Study Group within the School.

What form do these further studies take?

The basic format of both the Philosophy and Economics groups remains unchanged in subsequent terms.  The Economics course runs for three terms in total, with an opportunity after that to join an Economics Study Group that meets from time to time.

Following the introductory Philosophy course, the next few terms examine in greater detail the subjects covered in broad outline during the introductory course, and explore further ways of making the study practical.  The topics of the following terms are listed under the “Our Courses” tab.  A weekend study day continues to be held each term, when key topics and practices are examined in greater depth than is possible during the weekly sessions.



thought for the week

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.  

Thich Nhat Hanh   (1926 – )  

Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk