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2016/17 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST3702 Religion in Japan

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Prof Mark Williams

Taught: Semester 1 View Timetable

Year running 2016/17

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

How have Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and the new contemporary religions impinged on Japan's cultural history and how significant is religious syncretism?


On completion of this module, students should be familiar with the main trends within the Japanese religious tradition. They will have a clearer idea of the manner in which the major relevant religions (Shinto, Buddhism, Christianity and the new religions of contemporary Japan) have impinged on Japan's cultural history and will be in a position to analyse the significance of religious syncretism in the Japanese context.


During the course of this module, students will be expected to read a variety of primary and secondary texts.

The module will begin with a consideration of the implications of the study of religions in other cultures and will then move on to a study of early Japanese religiosity (with a focus on Shinto and the 'kami' tradition), through the growth of Buddhism during the Nara and Heian Periods and the subsequent attempts a Shinto/Buddhist syncretism, to the emergence of the Zen sect as a significant social factor in the medieval period.

The second half of the module will focus on the early modern and modern periods, with particular emphasis on Christianity in early modern Japan and the trend towards greater religious pluralism, particularly among the 'new religions' , in the twentieth century. No knowledge of Japanese is required.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours178.00
Total Contact hours22.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

- Preparation for seminars
- Background reading
- Preparation for assessment.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Progress is monitored through participation in regular seminars.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay3,000 words70.00
In-course AssessmentIn class participation5.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 24/04/2015


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