South Asian Epic Traditions TRS4117

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 4 (SCQF level 10)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2 (Alternate Years)
  • Available to Visiting Students: Yes

Short Description

The course introduces key concepts in Indic religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism) based on narrative, ritual, and performance traditions in, on, and around the Sanskrit epics (Rāmāyāṇa and Mahābhārata). Students will be asked to read the epics (in English translations) and discuss regional variations in narrations, visual representations, and performance arts. The course will introduce the ritual dimensions of Indic narrative traditions.


1x2hr seminar per week over 10 weeks as scheduled on MyCampus. This is one of the Honours options in Theology & Religious Studies 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





2 x 750-word reading reflections - 15% each

Essay (2,500 words) --- 50%

Oral presentation (10 minutes) - 20%

Main Assessment In: April/May

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? Not applicable for Honours courses

Reassessments are normally available for all courses, except those which contribute to the Honours classification. Where, exceptionally, reassessment on Honours courses is required to satisfy professional/accreditation requirements, only the overall course grade achieved at the first attempt will 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 aims to:

■ introduce students to South Asian literary cultures and folklore

■ apply ethnographic approaches to literary and cultural studies

■ relate South Asian religion and ritual to oral traditions and the arts

■ analyse cross-cultural contacts in Asia and beyond

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ assess key episodes in relation to their religious, literary, socio-historical and cultural significance

■ appraise regional variations against the backdrop of pan-Hindu concepts and values

■ evaluate the significance of the epics to South Asian religions and cultures

■ analyse the epic discourse and narrative in relation to specific religious, literary, socio-historical or cultural contexts

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.