SOAS University of London

Department of Religions & Philosophies, School of History, Religions & Philosophies

Shan Buddhism

Module Code:
Module Not Running 2017/2018
Year of study:
Year 2 or Year 3
Taught in:
Term 1

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the history and cultural manifestations of Shan Buddhism, highlighting how it differs from other forms of Theravada Buddhism.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

By the end of the course students should be able to demonstrate knowledge of the following topics:

  • the conjectured histories of Shan Buddhism.
  • Shan Buddhist authorities, including textual, spatial and personal features of Shan religious identity.
  • salient features of Shan doctrine.
  • aspects of Shan Buddhist practices, including ordination patterns, role of temple, media of transmission, festivals, soteriological, transformative, merit-making, communal and apotropaic practices.
  • the visual forms of Shan Buddhism, especially temple layout and architecture, sacred art and dress, etc.
  • the recent and current threats to the practice and preservation of Shan Buddhism

Scope and syllabus

The Syllabus will be along the following lines:

  • Week 1 The Shan region, myths of history, identity, localisation and links with the historical Buddha; problems of regional history
  • Week 2 Specifics of Shan Buddhist doctrine
  • Week 3 The canonical corpus and the authoritative corpus of Buddhist literature in Shan
  • Week 4 The religious week
  • Week5 The religious year
  • Week 7 Sacred space: the temple
  • Week 8 Sacred space: sacred geography and other forms of visual presence of the Buddha
  • Week 9 Ordination rituals and expectations of monks. Lay teachers. Opportunities for female renunciation
  • Week 10 Recent threats to Shan Buddhist culture, recent responses
  • Week 11 Any outstanding topics/presentations, etc.

Method of assessment

1 essay (2,500 words) (60%), 2 class tests (20% each).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules