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Pure Land Buddhism


Admission requirements

This course is meant for students with sufficent academic background in Buddhism. It is not a replacement for Introduction to Buddhism, and assumes knowledge of basic Buddhist ideas, doctrines and history such as would be acquired by satisfactory completion of Introduction to Buddhism.


Among the most important Mahayana Buddhist traditions in East Asia is so-called Pure Land Buddhism. Assuming students’ prior familiarity with the basics of Buddhism, we will begin with the Indian scriptures of the Pure Land tradition, and examine how ideas and practices developed in East Asia (primarily China and Japan), with some attention to its spread to Tibet. This course approaches its topics through close readings (in translation) of primary sources including Indian Buddhist scriptures and works by a selection of Chinese and Japanese teachers. These sources will be combined with secondary readings, as well as consideration of art historical sources. We will consider issues including those of Buddhist cosmology, means to spiritual awakening, cultural transfers, intertextuality, the spiritual status of women, and others.

Course objectives

Students will develop abilities in close reading of primary sources from cultures very distant from their own, in analysis of argumentation in examining secondary literature, in verbal and written expression, and in creative synthesis of ideas. Secondary to these broader conceptual goals, students will become more familiar with Indian and East Asian Buddhist traditions.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Assessment method


The course will be evaluated on a combination of final paper and engaged, informed and regular class participation. Weekly short assignments will be accepted on a pass/no credit basis, and the final paper will be discussed much in advance. Students will submit a draft for close discussion, which will not graded. Since a draft is required, and will provide the opportunity for all necessary revision, this will obviate the need for any resit.


The paper will be worth 60% of the grade. Regular written papers 10%. Class participation 30%.

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

Reading list TBA. As far as possible, freely available materials will be assigned.


This has to be filled out by the key-user of the department.
Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.

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