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HIS2309 : East Asia: from Antiquity to the Nineteenth Century

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Philip Garrett
  • Lecturer: Dr Joseph Lawson
  • Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


This module introduces students to East Asian history through the lens of the political, intellectual, and religious systems of East Asia, including Buddhism, Confucianism, and Daoism. It examines the core beliefs and debates within these traditions, as well as their connections to social and political contexts. In medieval and early modern times, the societies that became the modern nation-states of Japan, China, Vietnam, and Korea shared a common intellectual and religious heritage that made them recognisably part of a wider East Asian world. However, this common heritage was situated within very different, and changing, political and social systems, from the empires of China, to smaller kingdoms and states in Korea, Vietnam, and Japan, to societies that existed beyond the rule of states, typically in mountainous zones or in the northern steppe and forests. The major elements of East Asian culture also interacted with starkly different indigenous and folk religious beliefs. Major social changes occurred from the medieval though to the nineteenth century, with the rise of populations, the development of global trade networks, and commercialization of economies. The module examines the impact of these sorts of changes on religious and intellectual life.

Outline Of Syllabus

The syllabus will include topics from across the East Asian region in the medieval and early modern periods, spanning roughly from the 500s to the late nineteenth century. These topics will address themes of the intellectual, religious, and political foundations of society across a range of contexts from the great imperial states to societies outside statehood. These may include themes such as the concept of the Mandate of Heaven and the different ways in which it was understood in China and Japan; the Confucian Classics and Civil Service; the Dharma in East Asia and gender, faith, and intellectual life in Buddhist societies; ritual and the state; religion, community, and revolution; and the intellectual foundations of Chinese, Korean, and Japanese premodern societies.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion661:0066:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture201:0020:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading661:0066:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00Seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study351:0035:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

SEMINARS encourage independent study and promote improvements in oral presentation, interpersonal communication, problem-solving skills, research skills and adaptability.

LECTURES enable students to gain a wider sense of historical argument and debate and how such debates operate, which also allows them to develop comparisons between different historiographical debates.

SURGERY TIME: Staff will make themselves available in their offices for two hours over the course of the module to see students individually on issues concerning them, although we expect this will focus on preparation for assessments.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A602400 words (incl. footnotes, excluding bibliography)
Design/Creative proj2M40Video podcast of 5-10 minutes' duration
Formative Assessments

Formative Assessment is an assessment which develops your skills in being assessed, allows for you to receive feedback, and prepares you for being assessed. However, it does not count to your final mark.

Description Semester When Set Comment
Design/Creative proj2MPractice attempt at video podcast, feeding into 40% Design/Creative project assessment
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Work submitted during the delivery of the module forms a means of determining students' progress. The assessments for this module are designed to test students' knowledge outcomes while helping them develop transferrable skills in research and presentation. The formative assignment provides students with the opportunity to practice and develop their ideas and presentation skills before completing the summative design/creative project. The design/creative project presents students with the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of topics covered and to convey their understanding through accessible means. The summative essay forms a means of assessing students' attainment of the knowledge and skills outcomes as set out in the learning outcomes section.

Reading Lists