Religious practice in Japan (PGT) TRS5107

  • Academic Session: 2023-24
  • School: School of Critical Studies
  • Credits: 20
  • Level: Level 5 (SCQF level 11)
  • Typically Offered: Either Semester 1 or Semester 2
  • Available to Visiting Students: No

Short Description

This course examines the plurality of practice that constitutes religion in Japan through various media including films, comics and art forms. Most Japanese people ascribe to at least two traditions, Shinto and Buddhism, while a large part of the population professes to be non-religious. This course analyses the complexity and fluidity of this landscape through an exploration of ritual practice and representations of Japanese religious observance.


5x2hr seminar and 5x3hr session (5x2hr screening and 1hr seminar) over 10 weeks, as scheduled on MyCampus.

5x2hr seminar and 5x2hr screening may be taught concurrently with TRS4116 Religious practice in Japan (Hons).

Requirements of Entry

Standard entry to Masters at College level.

Excluded Courses

TRS4116 Religious practice in Japan (Hons)




Seminar participation - 10%

Annotated bibliography (1000 words) - 15%

Essay (4000 words) - 75%

Are reassessment opportunities available for all summative assessments? No

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. 

Contribution assessment component is assessable only through time-bound seminar participation.

Course Aims

The course aims to: 

■ explore two main traditions in Japan (Shinto and Buddhism), as well as other traditions (e.g. Christianity, Onmyodo [Yin-Yang theory]);

■ familiarise students with a range of theoretical interpretative approaches to Japanese religion(s);

■ relate various media (e.g. films, comics, art forms) to the study of religions in Japan;

■ discuss the meaning of religion and its intersections and applications in the Japanese context;

■ survey and critique current debates about politically and historically constructed understandings of religious traditions in Japan.

Intended Learning Outcomes of Course

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

■ analyse and critically engage with the meaning of religion in the Japanese context;

■ assess a range of critical approaches to religious practice in Japan, and present a critically nuanced analysis of current debates about religious practice in Japan;

■ frame arguments effectively using different kinds of sources in analysis of religious landscape of Japan;

■ engage in independent study, identifying, researching and writing on Japanese religions;

■ communicate responses to the material studied on the course in written form through coherent and sustained argument.

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.