Chan and Zen Traditions TRS4085

  • Academic Session: 2019-20
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes
  • Available to Erasmus Students: Yes

Short Description

This course is designed for students who wish to acquire a foundational knowledge of the Chan and Zen Buddhist traditions of China and Japan and how they shaped and were shaped by social and historical contexts in Asia and now in the West


1x2hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus.


This is one of the Honours options in TRS and may not run every year. The options that are running this session are available on MyCampus.

Requirements of Entry

Available to all students fulfilling requirements for Honours entry into Theology and Religious Studies, and by arrangement to visiting students or students of other Honours programmes who qualify under the University's 25% regulation.

Excluded Courses



TRS3033 Chan and Zen Traditions Non Honours




Essay (2,500 words) - 40%

Examination (90 minutes duration) - 50%

Ten weekly one-page response papers - 10%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. For non-Honours courses, students are offered reassessment in all or any of the components of assessment if the satisfactory (threshold) grade for the overall course is not achieved at the first attempt. This is normally grade D3 for undergraduate students and grade C3 for postgraduate students. Exceptionally it may not be possible to offer reassessment of some coursework items, in which case the mark achieved at the first attempt will be counted towards the final course grade. Any such exceptions for this course are described below. 

Course Aims

This course will provide the opportunity to:

■ engage the full range of Chan/Zen traditions with attention to central teachings, practices and texts both historically and in the present;

■ develop the critical skills necessary to analyse key Chan and Zen religious texts and practices in their historical contexts and to hone those skills in close reading, persuasive writing, and oral presentation;

■ engage critically with recent debates in the discipline of religious studies concerning Chan and Zen religious traditions.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

By the end of this course students will be able to:

■ offer a rigorous analysis of Chan and Zen Buddhist practices in historical and cultural context;

■ read and understand key Chan/Zen texts, and drawing on primary and secondary textual evidence and present a clearly argued analysis of religious positions taken in these texts;

■ offer an in-depth analysis of a key teaching or practice within each of the major strands of Chan and Zen Buddhism;

■ analyze and evaluate the interpretive and theoretical problems involved when using prevailing western notions such as "religion," "philosophy", "God," "faith" and "scripture' to interpret Chan and Zen traditions.

Minimum Requirement for Award of Credits

Students must submit at least 75% by weight of the components (including examinations) of the course's summative assessment.