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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures : Asian Studies

Undergraduate Course: Pre-modern East Asian history and the forces that shaped it (ASST08056)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Literatures, Languages and Cultures CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 8 (Year 2 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course looks at the history of the East Asian region, focussing on the events and ideas that shaped the states in what we now call China, Korea and Japan.
Course description The course aims to further students' understanding of the most important characteristics of East Asia by providing a survey of the development of China. Korea and Japan. The events and the ideas that shaped the first unified Chinese state in the third century BCE, were pivotal in the development of the region, inasmuch as the philosophies on which early China was based, played a significant role in the relations between what we now term "East Asia" (a descriptor that is kept under scrutiny throughout the course). Ideological strategies developped in these countries throughout the pre-modern period show a fascinating breadth in their permutations of traditional world-views and innovation in the field of political philosophy. This core theme is complemented by selected topics such as ritual and mythology. On successful completion of the course, students will have built upon prior knowledge of modern East Asian history and acquired a deeper appreciation of the region in pre-modern times and the role of traditional ideas and institutions in the modern era.

Modules to be covered in the course may include:
1 East Asia: definition, geography, languages
2 The writing of history
3 Confucianism and early Chinese philosophy
4 Forms of government: Chinese models and their adoption in Japan
5 Sino-centric culture in early Japan
6 Cosmos and myth: Making sense of the seen and the unseen
7 Buddhism's role in the state
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. Appreciate pre-modern East Asian history and politics, and the role of traditional ideas and institutions in the modern era
  2. Display skills in gathering information from appropriate sources
  3. Analyse relevant material in a concise and pertinent manner
  4. Report and present views on their findings both orally and in written form
  5. Report and present views on their findings through appropriate online media platforms.
Reading List
Ebrey, Patricia Buckley, et al., East Asia: a cultural, social, and political history. Boston, 2006. [EUML: Short Loan and HUB]
Lurie, David, et al. A brief history of Chinese and Japanese civilizations. 4th ed. Wadsworth, 2012. [Updated version of Schirokauer's work from 1978.]
Totman, Conrad. A history of Japan. Oxford; Massachusetts, 2000, 2004.
Gernet, Jacques. A history of Chinese civilization. Cambridge, 1982.
Specific readings for the individual topics covered by the course are given in the relevant folders on Learn. The above works are intended as indicative, comparative reading and for general reference throughout the course.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Information-gathering, analysis, presentation, debating
KeywordsAsian Studies,east asia,china,korea,japan,history philosophy society politics religion,buddhism
Course organiserDr Abigail MacBain
Tel: (0131 6)51 1358
Course secretaryMrs Vivien MacNish Porter
Tel: (0131 6)50 3528
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