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Elective: Religions ‘On the Move’: the Case of Global Buddhism.


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
The number of participants is limited to 25.


There is something truly international about Buddhism. It may in fact be one of the few common denominators within that notoriously vague and somewhat orientalist notion “Asia”, which is and always has been of tremendous importance and impact on the global arena. Buddhism also has spread beyond Asia and, mainly through popular culture (Richard Gere), entered our homes (Buddha statues) and even the privacy of our very minds (mindfulness).

This course addresses the question what happens when a ‘religion’, such as Buddhism, ‘spreads’ and becomes an international force; how does it spread and what are the underlying culture dynamics (also in terms of social, economic and political forces); and what local responses are provoked? Are transferred religions faithfully replicated or are they reinvented according to the logic of the receiving cultures, and if the latter, can we still consider them the same religion? In this case study of Global Buddhism we explore the latter avenue, by way of working hypothesis, and try to relate this to the theoretical framings needed for other case studies.

While we shall strive to find focus in our seminar by asking what we can learn from the case of ‘Global Buddhism’, this course is open to inquiry and essays on all pertinent case studies: from Roman Catholicism, Evangelical Christianity, Islam, Wicca, the practice of (pregnancy) yoga, to the global aspirations of militant Mujahidin.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:

  1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
  2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
    a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
    b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
    c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
    d. aimed at a specific audience;
  3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:

  1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
  2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
  3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.

Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:

  1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
  2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
  3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
  4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
  5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:

  1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
  2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
    a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
    b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
    c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
    d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours

  • Preparing for and giving a presentation: 10 hours

  • Readings & weekly summaries: 70 hours Readings partly used for presentation/paper.

  • Additional readings at higher level: 76 hours

  • Researching and writing the final research essay: 100 hours 4.000 - 6.000 words.

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
Active Participation 10%
Oral Presentation 10%
Final Research Essay (+/- 5,000 words, excluding tables and bibliography) 80%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Will be published on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. H.W.A. Blezer

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.