KOR1502 – Korea: Philosophy and Religion

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Course content

While being a highly dynamic modern society, South Korea continues to retain many important traits from its pre-modern legacy, especially in the ways in which people interact with each other in their daily lives. In the same vein, North Korea, while proclaiming itself a “socialist” country, relies heavily upon essentially Confucian notions of “loyalty” and “filial piety” for legitimising itself internally.

This course is aimed at giving a coherent outline of Korea’s main religious and philosophical traditions. While basically focusing upon the pre-modern developments in Confucianism and Buddhism and the relevance of those two traditions for the modern life, the course also includes lectures on Korean Christianity, nationalist and leftist thought.

Learning outcome

Upon the completion of this course you should:

  • Have obtained critical insights on how  various religions and ideologies influence societies and politics both in South and North Korea.
  • Have gained in-depth knowledge of the textual sources for Korea’s main religions and ideologies.
  • Have developed skills in critical reading of the commentaries and research literature on Korea’s religions and philosophies and in clearly formulating your own viewpoints.


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.


The course consists of weekly lectures (2 hours each) for 10 weeks. The students are offered individualized supervision in their work on the semester assignment.

Obligatory activity

  • A draft sketch of the semester assignment must be approved by the teacher in order to sit for the exam. The draft should include the title (and subtitle, if needed) of your essay, together with the detailed table of contents (including chapter titles and some sentences on the main content of each chapter) and literature list. It should be ca. 1-2 pages.

An approved draft sketch is only valid for one semester.

See Guidelines for obligatory instructional activity at HF

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.


Submission of the draft sketch is the prerequisite for being allowed to take the exam (see "Teaching" for more information). 

The students write an essay (semester assignment) with a list of references. The essay should be ca. 3000 words, not including the list of references. The topic of the essay should be approved by the teacher in the beginning of the semester.

The semester assignment is to be submitted in Inspera within a given deadline.

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.

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 2016

Periodisk evaluering våren 2012

Periodic evaluation Spring 2010

Periodic evaluation Spring 2008

Facts about this course






Offered on an infrequent basis


Offered on an infrequent basis

Teaching language