Understanding Buddhism – Short Course

A short course that offers a comprehensive analysis of Buddhism so that learners can appreciate the diversity and complexity of Buddhism as a lived religion.

Colour photo of a Buddha statue

Application Deadline – 5 January 2024

Understanding Buddhism will introduce ideas and practices found in ancient Buddhist traditions. It will show how these Buddhist practices developed in Asia and the West. There will be an analysis of how Buddhists have tackled contemporary issues, such as the eco-crises, race, gender, politics, and sexuality. It will suggest how Buddhism can be taught and understood in traditional and modern Buddhist societies, and how these ideas are important in the wider context of understanding religion.

The course will begin with an introduction to the topics to be studied, and the nature of our analysis of Buddhism over the coming weeks. There will be a focus on challenging preconceived ideas about Buddhism. Buddhism will be studied as diverse, engaged in society, political, and sometimes controversial. The course will then explain Buddhism in ancient India. It will analyse how Buddhism emerged from its wider Indian religious and philosophical setting. There will be a focus on understanding the Indian and wider Asian context of Buddhist ideas and practices. There will next be a study and interpretation of the ways in which Buddhist ideas and practices became distinctive including an analysis of Buddhist ethics, Buddhist meditation, and Buddhist philosophy. Finally the course will show how Buddhism emerged in modern societies including encounters with colonialism, the commercial appropriation of Buddhism, and its relevance to discourses related to politics, violence, race, gender, and the eco-crises.

This blended learning course will be delivered through short lectures, group discussions, exercises and activities, and readings which will be set in advance of each weekly session. Students will be expected to come to each class having read the weekly reading and prepared any materials or exercises that have been set. If the student is taking the course for credit, there will be an assessed written exercise which will demonstrate that the learning outcomes have been achieved. The lectures on this course would be recorded for the blended learning cohort. Students who are not taking the course for credit may also undertake the written exercise and receive feedback if they wish, but this is not mandatory.

Course Format

Session Date
Session 1 18 January, 68pm
Session 2 25 January, 68pm
Session 3 1 February, 6-8pm
Session 4 8 February, 68pm
Session 5 17 February, 124pm
Session 6 29 February, 68pm
Session 7 7 March, 68pm
Session 8 14 March, 68pm
Session 9 21 March, 68pm
Session 10 30 March, 124pm

How to Apply

Please take note of the deadline for registration to allow us to process your application.

Complete the online application form via ePay

Understanding Buddhism

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Booking Terms

We will accept cancellation of your place on a course and refund course fees within 14 days of completing payment.

Personal data: We will use the personal data you provide in the online application form to process your application and communicate with you about this course. We retain core data about course participants for 3 years (in case you require us to provide evidence that you have attended or that you have successfully completed the assignments) and financial details for 7 years.

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School of Divinity Short Courses Terms and Conditions