This course is discontinued

EAST1504 – East Asia: Great traditions

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Today, as East Asia gradually recovers its erstwhile traditional position as the economical centre of the world, the understanding of the established regional paradigms in politics, social and religious life becomes a more important task than ever before. The aim of this course is to give a primary source-based understanding of East Asia’s regional traditions, with an added emphasis upon their concrete socio-political modes of functioning and their mutual interactions. Students will be given a thorough survey of the socio-political conditions of the Zhou time (ca. 1040-256 B.C.E.), and assigned the reading of the main materials of the Confucian tradition, formed at that period and which have since continuously influenced the region up to the present day. They will have to understand, through the reading of the excerpts from Moist, Legalist and Taoist texts, the atmosphere of intellectual competition and exchange, which shaped the Confucian tradition of the pre-Qin times, while the reading of the Han Dynasty (202 B.C.E – 220 C.E.) texts by Dong Zhongshu, Ban Gu, Sima Qian and other authors provides understanding of the ways the “Imperial Confucianism”, the dominant discourse of power of the subsequent epochs, was formed. Then, the regional Buddhist traditions will be studied through comprehending both the basic devotional and philosophical texts and the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese commentaries to them. In the same way, the course will include both the main Song Dynasty (960-1279) Neo-Confucian and Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) Wang Yangming school texts, and the commentarial literature from Korea and Japan. All source reading will be provided in English. For the students of the bachelor level, the amount of the primary source reading will be considerably less than for those on the master level.

Learning outcome

  • To give students a thorough understanding of the East Asian traditions
  • To provide students with comprehensive knowledge of the main modern approaches to the study of East Asia’s traditions.
  • To lead students to an understanding of how the religious and philosophic paradigms have been functioning in the framework of socio-political dynamics in the region.
  • To explain how the traditional paradigms, for example, Confucian emphasis on scholarly credentials for leadership, influence the life of the region today.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Singular course students may apply after 15 January 2010 depending on capacity.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course requires good knowledge of English.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with EAST4504 – East Asia: Great Traditions


The course is based on a combination of lectures and seminars.

The prerequisite for being allowed to take the examination is to pass the obligatory qualifying essay (2-3 pages) on a topic assigned by the teacher. The obligatory qualifying essay gives no grades.

Access to teaching

A student who has completed compulsory instruction and coursework and has had these approved, is not entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework. A student who has been admitted to a course, but who has not completed compulsory instruction and coursework or had these approved, is entitled to repeat that instruction and coursework, depending on available capacity.


One written examination (4 hours) at the end of the semester.

The prerequisite for being allowed to take the examination is to pass the obligatory qualifying essay on one of the topics assigned by the teacher. The obligatory qualifying essay gives no grades.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination

Students are expected to use English for their written essay and final exam.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Resit an examination

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Periodic evaluation spring 2010

Facts about this course






Replaced by EAST2504


In 2011 this course will be replaced by EAST2504.

Teaching language