South Asian Buddhism

Subject code ABS941
Lecturer Dr Iain Sinclair
Delivery mode Online, live
Duration 10 weeks
Next start date Visit timetable

Subject Overview

A survey of the growth of Buddhism in South Asia from its origins in the fifth century BCE, on through the major developments in the area, including the appearance of early Mahāyāna forms and the eventual decline of Buddhist presence in India. The course integrates developments in doctrine with relevant archaeological and historical evidence from the field and analyses the nature of early Buddhist schools, in addition it examines the nature of Madhyamaka and Yogācāra teachings and situates Indian Buddhism as the original source for later schools. The second part of the courses uses Buddhist sacred sites as heuristic windows to further explore major aspects of the Indian Buddhist tradition.


Learning Outcomes

  1. Understand and discuss the historical background of Indian Buddhism and its relation to the life of Sakyamani Buddha.
  2. Analyse the basic doctrines and key philosophical concepts of a number of schools of Indian Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truths, the Eightfold Noble Path, Dependant Origination, Karma, Samsara, Nirvana, etc.
  3. Give an academic and critical account of the development of Mahāyāna thought and schools within the trajectory of Indian Buddhism.
  4. Further develop the skills to pose research questions, investigate and analyse the literature, and present reports (including oral reporting of research findings). 



  • Assessment 1: Assignment assessing an academic publication related to Indian Buddhism (15%)
  • Assessment 2: Seminar paper on prescribed topics, presented orally in class and in writing (35%)
  • Assessment 2: Final paper on a research project (50%)



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