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Reading Buddhist Scriptures (ResMA)


Admission requirements

Admission to the MA Asian Studies (research). Students from other programmes are kindly referred to the course description of the regular MA course.


Buddhist ideas and ideals have been, from the earliest days of the tradition, transmitted, orally or in writing, in the form of ‘scriptures’. Although most were originally composed in Indian languages, Pali, Sanskrit or a form of Middle Indic, these scriptures have subsequently been transmitted in a variety of languages, including Chinese and Tibetan. Since the modern study of Buddhism began about 150 years ago, some of these works have been translated into English as well. In this course, we will read some selections of Buddhist scriptures, in translation and according to student capacities in an ‘original’ form as well. We will try to understand how these works function as literature, and what we can learn by paying careful attention to them in many dimensions.

Course objectives

Students will gain an appreciation of the range of Buddhist scriptural forms of expression, familiarity with major themes and deepen their understanding of how to read literary works the conventions of which differ so much from those more familiar to us.


Seeor the timetable of the MA Asian Studies (research).

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

Attendance and informed participation are obligatory. Classes missed for a good reason (to the discretion of the instructor and to be discussed BEFORE the class takes place) will have to be made up with an extra assignment. Being absent without notification can result in a lower grade or exclusion from the term end paper and a failing grade for the course.

Course Load

Total course load (10 EC * 28 hours) 280 hours
Class meetings 2 hr x 13 weeks 26 hours
Extra contact hours for ResMA students 6 hours
Individual presentation 10 hours
Readings 70 hours
Paper 168 hours


Academic Integrity

Students should familiarize themselves with the notion of academic integrity and the ways in which this plays out in their own work. A good place to start is this page. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Students may not substantially reuse texts they have previously submitted in this or other courses. Minor overlap with previous work is allowed as long as it is duly noted in citation.
Students must submit their assignment(s) to the blackboard through turnitin, so they can be checked for plagiarism. Submission via email is not accepted.

Assessment and weighing

Partial assessment Weighing
In class participation 20%
Presentation 30%
Paper 50%

The final mark for this course is formed by the weighted average.

In order to pass the course, students must complete all requirements (participation, assignments, final essay) and obtain an overall mark of 5.50 (=6) or higher.

The course is an integrated whole. All assessment parts 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 insufficient (5.49 or lower) and the insufficient grade is the result of an insufficient final essay, a resit of the essay is possible (50%). If a resit is necessary for the paper, an entirely new topic must be approved, and there is no opportunity for feedback.

A resit of the other partial assessments is not possible.

Exam Review

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



Note: there is no separate Blackboard page available for this ResMa course. Please subscribe to the Blackboard page of the regular MA course.

Reading list


For the Research MA students additional readings will be determined by the convener at a later stage taking into account the students’ fields of interest. The extra sessions will be used to discuss the additional literature.


Students are required to register through uSis. 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 “USIS-Actnbr.”. More information on uSis is available in Dutch and English. You can also have a look at the FAQ.

Not being registered, means no permission to attend this course. See also the webpage on course and exam enrolment for registration deadlines and more information on how to register.


Dr. C.A. Handy


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.