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Confucianism in Context


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies, tracks Chinese Studies (EAS or 120 EC). Students from other programmes may be admitted at the discretion of the instructor, Dr. P. van Els. Please contact him if you are interested in taking this course, but are NOT a student of one of the MA Asian Studies tracks mentioned here.


When Confucius lectured his students, over 2,500 years ago, he could not have foreseen that his name would be known across the globe today. In the course of the centuries, the “ism” named after him gradually came to represent a wide range of philosophical and religious theories and practices. This Master’s course analyzes Confucianism in a variety of contexts, both past and present, in China and abroad.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  • comprehend passages from relevant Chinese texts (in translation);

  • grasp the diversity and complexity of Confucianism;

  • grasp the diversity of approaches to study Confucianism;

  • analyze complex scholarly arguments;

  • actively participate in group discussions (in English);

  • formulate an original research question;

  • conduct effective research to answer the research question;

  • report on their findings, both orally and in writing.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Attendance is compulsory for all sessions. Students must prepare well and contribute to in-class discussion. If a student cannot attend because of illness or misadventure, they should promptly inform the instructor. Students who are absent more than two sessions may be excluded from further participation and a failing grade for the course. Special circumstances are at the discretion of the Board of Examinators.

Assessment method

Assessment and weighing

Partial Assessment Weighing
active class participation 20%
oral presentation 20%
written assignments 20%
term paper 40%

In order to pass the course, students need a pass mark (“voldoende”, i.e. “5.50” or higher) for the term paper and for the course as a whole. A failed term paper may be re-written only if the original submission constituted a serious attempt. (The paper deadline mentioned in uSis is for administrative purposes only; the actual date will be communicated by the instructor.) The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average. All categories of assessment must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years.


Only if the total weighted average is 5.49 or lower and this is the result of a term paper graded 5.49 or lower, a re-sit of the paper is possible (40%). A re-sit for other course components is not possible.

Inspection and feedback

Students may request an oral elucidation of the assessment within 30 days after publication of the grade.

Reading list

Reading materials will be announced on Brightspace. Students with no prior training in Confucianism or Chinese philosophy in general, are expected to contact the teacher prior to participating in the course, and may be asked to read additional literature.


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