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Department of the Study of Religions

Chinese Buddhism in the Pre-Modern Period

Course Code:
15PSRC160
Status:
Course Not Running 2014/2015
Unit value:
1
Year of study:
Any
Taught in:
Full Year

This course has a twofold aim: 

  1. It will explore the formation of Chinese Buddhism during its period of most fertile contact with India, discussing its peculiar identity in the wider context of Buddhism as a cross-cultural religious tradition; 
  2. The course will locate Buddhism as a part of Chinese religious tradition and discuss its relationship with indigenous beliefs and practices. 

Students will be introduced to the history, schools and doctrines of Buddhism in China from its introduction until the 14th century. Topics will include:

  • the historical process of diffusion of Buddhism to China from India and Central Asia; 
  • the varieties and strains of Buddhism that entered China from the beginning of the Common Era; 
  • the stages and major events in the history of Buddhism in pre-modern China; 
  • the doctrines and tenets of the main schools (Chan, Tiantai, Pure Land, etc.); 
  • the cultural assimilation of Buddhism in China and its adaptation to the local culture.

Instruction for this course will be shared with the BA ‘Buddhism in Pre-Modern China’. MA students will receive additional teaching in the form of a 1-hour weekly seminar.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the course

The aim of the course is to advance students in the knowledge of the history, schools and doctrines of Buddhism in China from its introduction until the Song dynasty (960-1279). On completion of the syllabus, students should:

  • Have acquired a sound knowledge of the historical development of Buddhism in China in the period under consideration.
  • Have acquired a sound knowledge of the main schools (Chan, Tiantai, Pure Land, etc.) and doctrines of pre-modern Chinese Buddhism.
  • Be aware of the peculiar identity of Chinese Buddhism in the wider context of Buddhism as a cross-cultural religious tradition.
  • Be able to locate Buddhism as a part of Chinese religious tradition and discuss its relationship with indigenous beliefs and practices.
  • Have furthered their methodological skills for the study of Chinese Buddhism.

Method of assessment

Coursework: two 4,000 word essays. Assessment: 3 hour exam paper 60%, essays 40% (20% each)