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Unit information: The Body in East Asian Thought and Practices in 2021/22

Unit name The Body in East Asian Thought and Practices
Unit code THRSM0133
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Lomi
Open unit status Not open




School/department Department of Religion and Theology
Faculty Faculty of Arts

Description including Unit Aims

This unit examines the ways in which the body has been imagined, represented, and problematised by different East Asian religious and philosophical traditions. We will do so by exploring a varies of texts, practices, as well as literary and visual sources. The first aim of this examination is to reflect critically on those conceptual tools developed to deal with the human body. The second is to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of the body as primary site for religious practice and achievement.

The unit is arranged thematically, and each week we will focus on a specific way of framing the body. The themes covered will tackle the relationship between the body, the mind, the cosmos, and society, and will also allow space to discuss issues of pollution, gender and culturally defined functions of the body. By the end of the course, it will become apparent how these ideas are intimately connected, often making us question the existence of clear-cut boundaries between, for example, religious and medical discourses.

Intended Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate a nuanced understanding of the role and function of the physical body according to different East Asian religio-medical systems;
  2. Recognise the key issues informing the notions of physical and subtle body;
  3. Be able to synthesise and explain leading scholarly views on the topic of East Asian religions and the body
  4. Critique oversimplified Asian mind/body theories;
  5. Apply the analytical and conceptual tools acquired in this unit to specific religious practices (meditation, pilgrimage, etc);
  6. Demonstrate skills in critical thinking and written communication appropriate to level M/7.

Teaching Information

1 x three-hour seminar weekly

Assessment Information

Seminar Leading Skills (20%) [ILOs 2-3]

One 4500-word summative essay (80%) [ILOs 1-5]


If this unit has a Resource List, you will normally find a link to it in the Blackboard area for the unit. Sometimes there will be a separate link for each weekly topic.

If you are unable to access a list through Blackboard, you can also find it via the Resource Lists homepage. Search for the list by the unit name or code (e.g. THRSM0133).

How much time the unit requires
Each credit equates to 10 hours of total student input. For example a 20 credit unit will take you 200 hours of study to complete. Your total learning time is made up of contact time, directed learning tasks, independent learning and assessment activity.

See the Faculty workload statement relating to this unit for more information.

The Board of Examiners will consider all cases where students have failed or not completed the assessments required for credit. The Board considers each student's outcomes across all the units which contribute to each year's programme of study. If you have self-certificated your absence from an assessment, you will normally be required to complete it the next time it runs (this is usually in the next assessment period).
The Board of Examiners will take into account any extenuating circumstances and operates within the Regulations and Code of Practice for Taught Programmes.