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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.


Visit MyTimetable.

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 %

  • 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

If a student requests an exam review (first sit or resit) within 30 days after publication of the exam results, such a review will 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 Blackboard


Students of the BA program South and South East Asia Studies are required to register through uSis before August/January 15. 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 ID number, course title and prospectus or catalog number. Depending on the availability of places, the study co-ordinator will register these students after August/January 15. By September/February 1 at the latest the student will be able to see in uSis whether (s)he is registered or not.

Not registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the ‘Registration procedures for classes and examinations’ for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dhr. P.C. Verhagen


Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).