In Summary: Elements of a Four-month Module
Reading (course book and supplementary reading (both of which you purchase separately).
Listening (approximately 12 hours).
Meditation (20 minutes a day).
Review questions at the end of each chapter (as a quiz).
Discussion questions every two weeks for three months of the module.
Written essaylettes – two very short essays.
The long essay – 1,500 words in the fourth (non-contact) month.
The exam – two hours in the fourth (non-contact) month.
It is not necessary to do all of these elements to have completed a module, but it is by participating in the more active elements such as the discussion questions, that the course really comes alive.
In Detail: Elements of a module
For each module you follow a timetable divided into blocks of two weeks, with one or two topics covered within that period. For example, in weeks nine and ten of the first module on the Four Noble Truths, your timetable is:
|9 & 10||CH. 5
|What is cessation?
Symbolic, residual & non-residual
Liberation and enlightenment
Cessation in Theravada/Mahayana
Liberation and emptiness
You have studied the first two Noble Truths, the Truth of Suffering and the Truth of the Origin of Suffering. Your tutor sends you a quiz with questions about the previous chapter. These are ‘close-ended’ questions with right/wrong answers and are purely a way for you to see if you have understood the content or meaning of the chapter.
For weeks nine and ten you read pages 59 to 74 of the course books (as well as some supplementary reading) and listen to 14 tracks of Geshe Tashi’s teachings (about 150 minutes).
Your moderator sends one or two discussion questions early on in this period to your email moderator group. Here you can discuss the questions in the Study Centre with other members of your moderator group. These questions are for you to explore as you study the topic. For instance, the questions might be:
1. Using reason to back up your answer, do you think the cessation of suffering as described in the third Noble Truth is possible?
2.”… neither obscuration is completely one with our mind… the nature of our mind is never integrated with the delusions. The nature of the mind is pure.” What is mind according to your understanding? What connotations does the word “mind” have for you, and generally in the West?
Perhaps you don’t have a clear understanding on first reading, but one or two of your moderator group have already replied. You get some ideas from them but have some of your own, so you reply, and they respond to your message. And so, together, you build up an understanding of the topic.
At the end of months one and two of the module there is a very short “essaylette” which is a chance for you to précis your ideas. This goes directly to your moderator and is not seen by your fellow students.
Revision and Essay
The active part of the module lasts twelve weeks, followed by a month where there is no group contact. This is for revision and for your long essay (1,500 words) and the two-hour written exam.
“I think the content of the course was quite comprehensive and well thought out. The modules were presented in a sensible order and they built on each other. The Tantra module was way over my head, but I am glad that I had some exposure to this subject. I think that the essaylettes and the long essays, as well as the discussion threads were, pedagologically speaking, the best part of the course. I really learned a lot writing them” Joseph, FBT graduate
The six modules form a whole, the first three being like the base and the second three being like the practice. We therefore ask that you commit to doing the entire two years. Of course, life can “intervene” and sometimes you might have to postpone the course or do a module at a later time. We will do everything we can to ensure you get the most out of the course.
You will be counted as having completed a module when you send your long essay and exam into your tutor. You will receive the certificate of completion when you have completed all six modules.
The course is a commitment and how much time is needed for it varies greatly. Many students have said they spend an evening a week, or maybe a couple of nights for a couple of hours, but it really depends on how committed you are and how much time you have. It is possible to get a lot out of the course without doing everything but, as you know, the more you put into it the more you get out of it.
See also Frequently Asked Questions