EAST4504 – East Asia: Great Traditions

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

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. You will be assigned reading of the main materials from the Confucian tradition as well as other main philosophical traditions of early and mediaeval China, which have since continuously influenced the region up to the present day. The regional Buddhist traditions will be studied as well, through comprehending the basic devotional and philosophical texts and the Chinese, Korean, and Japanese commentaries to them. In the same way, the course will include the main Song Dynasty Neo-Confucian texts, as well as the lectures on post-traditional ideologies. All source reading will be provided in English. You are expected to put your research into the regional perspective, even if you focus primarily on one country only.

Learning outcome

  • You will learn to understand the East Asian traditions, with extensive use of primary source materials.
  • You will also develop your ability to pass independent judgments on secondary research literature, based on your mastery of primary sources.
  • You will be trained in raising theoretical and methodological issues in relation to the study of East Asian traditions.
  • You will be given source materials and methodologies needed to understand 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:

KIN1503 – Hvordan Kina ble Kina - tre tusen års historie
JAP1503 – Japans historie (discontinued)
KOR1503 – Koreas historie (discontinued)
KOR1504 – Korea: History, Society, Politics
or corresponding courses from other universities.


The course consists of lectures, in total 10-12 classes of 2 hours each. Active participation in class is encouraged. The detailed schedule will be updated before semesterstart.

Obligatory activity

A draft sketch of the term paper must be approved by the teacher in order to take the exam. The sketch should be approx. 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 Canvas 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 (see "Teaching" for more information).

The term paper is to be submitted in Inspera within the given deadline.

Information about writing and submitting assignments at IKOS.

Grading guidelines

Submit assignments in Inspera

You submit your assignment in the digital examination system Inspera. Read about how to submit assignments in Inspera.

Use of sources and citation

You should familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If you violate the rules, you may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English.

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 2012

Periodic evaluation spring 2017

Facts about this course






Offered on an infrequent basis


Offered on an infrequent basis

Teaching language