World Religions: Oriental

Humanities & Social Sciences
Course Code
HUMS 1171
Semester Length
Max Class Size
Method(s) Of Instruction
Course Designation
Certificate in Global Competency
Industry Designation
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
An introduction to the great religious traditions of the Orient, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Shintoism, and some modern religious movements originating in the East. Emphasis will be on these religions as living cultural, political, and philosophical institutions and systems helping to shape our world. Each religion will be studied with regard to such issues as the human attempt to understand the cosmos and shape social life, together with the need for mutual understanding and toleration.
Course Content

Instruction in this course will include the following six areas:


  1. An introduction to the development of Indian religions - including early Indian religion; the caste system; the Vedas, Upanishads, and Gita; the origin and growth of Jainism, Buddhism, and classical Hinduism; the organization and development of the Buddhist sangha; the spread of Buddhism, and its eventual disappearance from India; the impact of Islam on India; the development of Sikhism in India (from Guru Nanak through to the 10th guru and beyond).
  2. Rituals, ways of life and institutional forms of Hinduism and Sikhism from a contemporary standpoint - including Hindu inclusivism and Sikh particularism; Hindu universalism and particularism; and Sikhism in the West.
  3. An introduction to Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism -- including the Arhat and the Bodhisattva as ideal figures; Theravada teachings, rituals, and social forms: the Sri Lanka experience; Mahayana teachings, rituals, and social forms: Pure Land Buddhism, Tibetan Buddhism, and Zen Buddhism as examples; Buddhism in the People’s Republic of China, and Taiwan; the arrival of Buddhism in America.
  4. An introduction to Taoism and Confucianism - including the Taoist ideal sage, and concept of harmony with nature; Confucius, and Confucian humanism; the development of popular Taoism; the evolution and influences of Confucianism; Taoism and modern ecological and social notions; Confucianism and western secular humanism; the influence of Taoist ideas on western thought.
  5. An introduction to religion in Japan, especially Shintoism, Buddhism, and new Japanese religious movements - including the way of the gods in myth and ritual; Shinto and the Imperial lineage; Nichiren and prophetic Buddhism; non-exclusivism in modern Japanese religious life; Buddhism and the samurai ethic; and new Japanese religious movements (Nichiren Shoshu Soka Gakkai in the West, and the development of paths such as Seicho No le, and Tenri kyo).
  6. Contemporary Issues and Asian Religions -- including ecology and eastern pantheism; the impact of western approaches to religion on the self-definition of oriental religions; political process and new religious movements; Vivekenanda and the world parliament of religions; Christian-Hindu dialogue, and global interfaith dialogue; the importance of non-theistic Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism for the western understanding of religious consciousness; scientific and oriental religions.
Learning Activities

A combination of lecture and discussion (possibly including student presentations).  Some class sessions may involve formal lectures for the entire time (allowing time for questions), in which case a later class session will allow discussion of the lecture and reading material.  Other class sessions may involve a combination of informal lecture and structured discussion.

Means of Assessment

Evaluation will be based on course objectives and will be carried out in accordance with Douglas College policy.  The instructor will provide a written course outline with specific evaluation criteria at the beginning of the semester.


Any possible combination of the following which equals 100%:

(No one evaluation component within each category may exceed 40%)


  Percentage Range  Example
Tests, quizzes, short written assignments     0% - 50%  three 20% essays         60%
Written class presentations, essays, essay exams   30% - 60% Final exam                    25%
Instructors general evaluation
(may include attendance, class participation,
group work, homework, etc.)
    0% - 20% Attendance/
participation                  15%
Total                                     100%
Learning Outcomes

The successful student should be able to:


  1. Explain the diversity of eastern religions, both as to doctrines concerning the nature of the cosmos, and the human position in it
  2. Demonstrate an appreciation of the diversity of ways of life and social organization associated with the eastern religions;
  3. Explain the connection between the eastern religions and current global ecological, philosophical, and social concerns;
  4. To compare and contrast the fundamental doctrines associated with the oriental religions covered in this course, especially concerning the origins of the cosmos, the existence of God, the nature of Ultimate Reality, and the destiny of the individual person upon the death of the body;
  5. To compare and contrast the ways of life prescribed by these religions, including the main ritual and calendrical systems associated with them;
  6. To compare and contrast the social political institutions associated with these religions; and
  7. To critically and reflectively discuss the relevance of some of the teachings on the cosmos and on moral and social life, especially as they pertain to the current ecological, social, philosophical, and political concerns we have today as members of a global community.
Textbook Materials

Textbooks and Materials to be Purchased by Students


Textbooks will be updated periodically.  Typical examples are:


Mathews, Warren.  (2004).  World Religions, (4th ed.).  Belmont, CA:  Thomson-Wadworth.


Hutchison, John A. (1991).  Paths of Faith, (4th ed.).  Toronto, ON:  McGraw-Hill.


Smith, Houston.  (1991).  The World’s Religions, 2nd ed.  New York: Harper Collins.

with one of the following

Fenton, et al.  (1993).  Religions of Asia, (3rd ed.).  New York:  St. Martins.Press.

Carmody & Carmody.  (1992).  Eastern Ways to the Center, (2nd ed.).  Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.



No prerequisite courses.


No corequisite courses.


No equivalent courses.

Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

These are for current course guidelines only. For a full list of archived courses please see

Institution Transfer Details for HUMS 1171
Alexander College (ALEX) ALEX INST 1XX (3)
Capilano University (CAPU) CAPU HUEL 1XX (3)
Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) KPU ASIA 1311 (3)
Langara College (LANG) LANG RELS 1120 (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) DOUG HUMS 1171 (3) & DOUG HUMS 1172 (3) = SFU HUM 130 (3) & SFU HUM 1XX (3)
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU HUMS 1XX (3)
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU HUMN 1XXX (3)
Trinity Western University (TWU) TWU RELS 272 (3)
University of British Columbia - Okanagan (UBCO) UBCO ARTS_O 1st (3)
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC HUMN 1XX (3)
University of Victoria (UVIC) UVIC RCS 200B (1.5)

Course Offerings

Fall 2024

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New Westminster - North Bldg.
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Section Notes

HUMS 1171 001 - This course can count as a relevant course in an Associate of Arts specialization in Intercultural & International Studies.