REL3010 – Buddhism in the contemporary world

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

Choose semester

Course content

Buddhism has adapted to rapid economic, social, cultural, and political transformations in the modern, post-modern, and globalized world.

Since its inception in India in the sixth century BC, Buddhism spread – first throughout Asia, and then globally in the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Buddhism has shown a remarkable flexibility and an ability to co-exist with a variety of social structures as it spread, not only to farming and herding communities, but also to highly complex Asian and Western urban societies.

In the West, the popularity of Buddhism was inspired by the academic study of Asian worldviews, the romanticism of Orientalism, the Beat-generation of the 1950s, the hippies of the 1960s, and the contemporary New Age-movement, as well as by Asian migration to the West. Buddhists work, not only for world peace, but also for increased social engagement, ecological awareness, and gender equality.

At the same time, both in the past and in the contemporary world, Buddhists have encouraged to, and engaged in, armed conflicts and wars. This class covers, with a thematic and regional focus, such modern Buddhist developments.

Learning outcome

After completing this course you will:

  • have knowledge about Buddhist modernities in different parts of the world
  • be able to analyze and discuss how globalization, secularization, rationalization, and individualization affect contemporary Buddhist worldview
  • be able to apply theoretical concepts to understand Buddhist modernities
  • be able to give an account of religious change and religious pluralism
  • get insight into engaged Buddhism
  • learn about Buddhism and ecological awareness

  • obtain knowledge of Buddhists’ role in political conflicts around the world


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.


Formal prerequisite knowledge

A good ability to read and understand English is required for this course.

Recommended previous knowledge

REL1003 – Verdensreligioner i moderne samfunn and REL2230 – Buddhisme - tradisjon og variasjon and one other course on 2000 level.

Overlapping courses

10 credits overlap with REL4160 – Buddhist Modernities (discontinued)

It is the responsibility of the student to make sure that the course content does not overlap with other courses the student has already received credit for.


Autumn 2020: Teaching will follow the guidelines for preventing the spread of Covid-19.

A detailed plan for the semester will show which activities will be digital, and this will be updated by the beginning of August.

There will not be a requirement for compulsory attendance for teaching which is done digitally, but we strongly recommend that you follow all the teaching.

The teaching consists of lectures and seminars. A detailed schedule will be published on the semester page at the start of the semester.

Compulsory tuition activities

  • Attendance to two of the three seminars
  • A short written essay, must be approved by the course teacher

Detailed information on the essay will be published on the semester page.

All compulsory activities must be approved in order to qualify for the exam. It is the student’s responsibility to check whether or not the compulsory activities are approved. 

This is how you apply for valid absence from compulsory activities/compulsory attendance.

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.


Take-home examination over three days.

You must complete all compulsory tuition activities in order to be allowed to sit for the final examination.

Previous exams and 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

You may write your examination paper in Norwegian, Swedish, Danish or 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.

Facts about this course






Every other autumn starting 2018

Starting autumn 2018


Every other autumn starting 2018

Starting autumn 2018

Teaching language