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Unit information: Living Religions East in 2020/21

Unit name Living Religions East
Unit code THRS10065
Credit points 20
Level of study C/4
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Professor. Gethin
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts


Religious traditions represent significant expressions of cultural values: understanding the past and present states of the world is not possible without some knowledge of these traditions. This unit introduces the history, ideas and practices of some of Asia’s principal living religions, focusing in particular on Hinduism and Buddhism (two religious traditions that together have been major cultural influences throughout Asia in areas now inhabited by half the world’s population). With reference to matters of ethics, thought, politics and law, the unit considers how the diverse ways these religions answer questions about the world and the place of human beings within it have shaped and continue to inform the way people, both individually and collectively, live their lives and seek to find meaning and purpose. Students will work in groups on a formative, collaborative presentation and have the opportunity to get feedback on their work.

Intended learning outcomes

On successful completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the history, of religious practices and ideas with particular reference to Hinduism and Buddhism;
  2. demonstrate an understanding of how particularly Hinduism and Buddhism have informed and continue to inform cultural values and ideas about the meaning of life in Asia;
  3. analyse and explain the history, practices and ideas of Hinduism and Buddhism;
  4. identify and evaluate pertinent evidence/data in order to illustrate/demonstrate a cogent argument appropriate to level C/4.

Teaching details

2 x one-hour lecture and one-hour seminar per week.

Assessment Details

1 x 250 word response piece (form) multiple choice exam (100%)

Reading and References

  • Hinnells, John R. (ed.), The Penguin Handbook of the World's Living Religions (2010)
  • Smart, Ninian, The world's religions 2nd ed. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998)
  • Gethin, Rupert (The Foundations of Buddhism (Oxford: 1998)
  • Rodrigues, Hilary, Introducing Hinduism (London: Routledge, 2017).