This course is discontinued

EAST2504 – East Asia: Great Traditions

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

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 and pre-Qin times, and be assigned reading of the main materials of the Confucian tradition as well as the Moist, Legalist and Taoist traditions, formed at that period and which have since continuously influenced the region up to the present day. 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 Neo-Confucian and Ming Dynasty Wang Yangming school texts. All source reading will be provided in English.

Learning outcome

  • Understanding of the East Asian traditions
  • Knowledge of the main modern approaches to the study of East Asia’s traditions
  • Understanding of how the religious and philosophic paradigms have been functioning in the framework of socio-political dynamics in the region
  • Understanding how the traditional paradigms 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.


Recommended previous knowledge

The course requires good knowledge of English. At least one of the following courses are recommended as prior knowledge:

Overlapping courses


The course is based on a combination of lectures and seminars, in total 10-12 classes of 2 hrs each. Active participation in class is encouraged.

A draft sketch of the term paper must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. The sketch should be ca. 2-3 pages long and encompass title, subtitle, chapter titles and brief contents of each chapter, along with a literature list. The draft sketch is to be submitted in Fronter within a given deadline.

An approved draft sketch is only valid for one semester.

Guidelines for compulsory tuition activities at the Faculty of Humanities.


The exam is an essay (term paper) with a list of references. The essay should be ca. 10 pages (2300 characters per page, not including spaces), not including the front page and the list of references. The topic of the essay should be approved by the teacher in the beginning of the semester, and a draft sketch of the essay must be submitted for preliminary evaluation in order to take the exam (please see "Teaching" for more information).

The term paper is to be submitted in Fronter within the given deadline. Before submitting your paper, you must electronically sign an "Obligatory statement concerning cheating" in Fronter.

Information about writing and submitting assignments at IKOS.

Examination support material

No examination support material is allowed.

Language of examination


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

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

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 2015

Periodic evaluation Spring 2012

Facts about this course






Spring 2015

Final semester Spring 2015.


Spring 2015

Final semester Spring 2015.

Teaching language