nl en

Tibet: State and Society


Admission requirements

Not applicable.


Seminar on the social and political history of Tibet which focuses on the period of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, and in light of the historical background which informs current debates. After an introduction to the integral socio-political history of the Tibetans, the course primarily addresses the main issues pertinent to the recent and present-day situation of the Tibetan people and their culture, both within the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) of the People’s Republic of China, and within the numerous communities of Tibetans in exile. The course, with a midterm written exam and a final essay, will also involve considerable active participation of the students in the form of presentation and discussion.

The topics of the sessions in this seminar:

  1. Introduction / Geography and its implications for Tibetan society
  2. Socio-Political history 620s-1500
  3. Socio-Political history 1500-1950s
    4-5. Socio-Political history 1950s-present
  4. The Independence debate
  5. The “100 Questions”
  6. From Songs to Blogs (traditional and contemporary critique and criticism)
  7. Societal shifts and changes in TAR and exile
  8. Cultural Continuation and Innovation in TAR and exile
  9. The myth / image of Tibet and its deconstruction
  10. Conclusion / summary

Course objectives

  • Develop critical and multifaceted sophistication regarding various perspectives on the social and political history of Tibet, with emphasis on the period from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present day.

  • Skills in the oral and written presentation of the acquired awareness and insights.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are obligatory for seminars. Students are required to prepare for and attend all sessions. The convenors need to be informed without delay of any classes missed for a good reason (i.e. due to unforeseen circumstances such as illness, family issues, problems with residence permits, the Dutch railways in winter, etc.). In these cases it is up to the discretion of the convener(s) of the course whether or not the missed class will have to be made up with an extra assignment. The maximum of such absences during a semester is two. Being absent without notification and/or more than two times can result in exclusion from the term end exams and a failing grade for the course.

Assessment method


Midterm written examination, final essay and presentation, abstract.


  • Midterm written examination with short questions: 20 %

  • Final essay: 60 %

  • Oral presentation, abstract: 20 %


In order to pass the course, students must obtain an an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. The final examination and the assignments must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Blondeau, A. & Buffetrille, K. (eds), Authenticating Tibet: Answers to China’s 100 QUESTIONS, Berkeley 2008.

  • Shakya, Tsering., The Dragon in the Land of Snows: A History of Modern Tibet since 1947. London: 1999.

  • Further materials to be made available on Brightspace.

Reading instructions are given in the course syllabus on Brightspace.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website.

Registration Studeren à la carte en Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: VRIESHOF