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Tibet: State and Society


Admission requirements



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 Socio-Political history 1950s-present
5 The Independence debate
6 Guest lecture: Dr. L. Black: International Politics perspective
7 The “100 Questions”
8 From Songs to Blogs (traditional and contemporary critique and criticism)
9 Societal shifts and changes in TAR and exile
10 Cultural Continuation and Innovation in TAR and exile
11 The myth / image of Tibet and its deconstruction
12 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.


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Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and active participation are mandatory.

Course Load

Total course load: 5 EC = 140 hours

  • attending class: ca. 25 hours

  • preparation for class: ca. 50 hours

  • preparation for midterm exam: ca. 25 hours

  • writing final essay: 40 hours

Assessment method

  • midterm written examination with short questions: 20 %

  • final essay: 60 %

  • presentation, abstract: 20 %

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

A new version of the final essay may be written if the overall mark for the course is 5.49 (=5) or lower. The deadline for this version will be determined in consultation.

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.


Yes, Blackboard

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 Blackboard


Students of the BA South and Southeast Asian Studies and the BA China Studies are required to register through uSis before August 15.
Not registered at this date, may mean that you will not get permission to attend this course.

To avoid mistakes and problems, students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number which can be found in the timetable in the column under the heading “Act.nbr.”.

Other students are requested to send an email to the study co-ordinator including their name, student IDnumber, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the study co-ordinator will register these students after August 15. By September 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

(Studeren à la carte is not possible for this course.)


Dhr. P.C. Verhagen


Other Buddhism related courses

At BA-level
Fall Semester
Anthropology and Buddhism in Asia
Buddhism through Stories
Buddhist Art
Culture of Tibet
Introduction to Buddhism
Japanse religies en boeddhisme
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts
Iconography of South and Southeast Asia
Elementary Pali
Tibetan 1

Spring Semester
Architecture: The Temple and the Stupa
Chinese Buddhism
Tibetan Buddhism
Sacred Biography in Buddhism and Jainism
Indian Philosophy
Tibetan 2

At MA-level
Buddhism and Social Justice
Reading Buddhist Scriptures
Virtue, Vice and Depravity: Buddhist and Contemporary Accounts