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Master of Arts in Religious Studies
Course List

Master of Arts in Religious Studies - Course List

Course List

Core Course 必修科目

RELS5005 Theories of Religious Studies 宗教研究理論  

From the establishment of the sociological endeavor, the study of religion has been central to the understanding of modern societies. This course will continue in this tradition by surveying the interactions between religion and society while developing the sociological and Anthropological approach to the study of religion as a social institution. In particular, we will look at the ways in which religion is transformed by, and plays a role in the transformation of, a global society. This course is designed to give students tools and concepts with which to understand the social organization of religion and the role of religion in society.


We will focus on classical and emerging themes in the field, and analyze case studies that relate to them. Students will:

  • learn how religion is shaped by and, in turn, shapes the larger social field in which it exists;
  • become familiar with the dynamics of secularization, ecological theories, and other developments;
  • develop an understanding of the ways in which religion interacts with other social institutions such as the state and economy, and culture.

Area 1: Religion, Heritage and Context 宗教、傳統與處境

RELS5118 Studies on Chinese Buddhism 中國佛教研究  

This course studies major traditions in Chinese Buddhism including Chan, Pure Land, Huayen and Tiantai Buddhism. We also seek to understand the Chinese Buddhist tradition by utilizing some recent researches in the field. Some examples are the research on northern school of Chan Buddhism by John McRae and Bernard Faure, on Pure Land Buddhism by Luis Gomez and Richard Payne, on Buddhism in the Song especially Tiantai Buddhism by Peter Gregory and Daniel Getz. Secondary sources will be used together with selected primary sources to stimulate discussion in class.

RELS5121 Popular Religion in China 中國民間宗教 

Recent researches on Chinese religion show that the term “three religions” or sanjiao monastic Buddhism, priestly Daoism, and Confucian philosophy – is not adequate to describe Chinese religiosity. To subsume several thousand years of Chinese religious experience under the term of “three religions”, in effect, is to exclude the vast majority of Chinese religious behaviour. In reality, only a few elite orient their lifestyles to the Buddhist or Taoist concepts of transcendence. Over emphasis on the intellectual and spiritual world of the scholarly official, the gentry and the literate elite, overlooks religious practices and beliefs of ordinary people, the peasants and the labourers who are the majority of the Chinese population. This course studies Chinese religion from the, traditional economy and village temples of various local societies in China perspective of local society in South China. By making use of recent ethnographical studies on China, we examine Chinese religion from a holistic approach involving the analysis of lineage.

RELS5123 Taoist Thought 道教思想 

This course aims to introduce the thought and doctrine of religious Taoism. Topics that constitute the essences of Taoist doctrine such as the idea of Tao, Taoist gods, Taoist cosmology, Taoist philosophy of life and nature, the value and meaning of life, the function of ritual and self-cultivation, and ethics will be surveyed. Selected issues in modern scholarship on Taoist doctrine will also be touched on.

RELS5219 The Hebrew Bible in Contexts 希伯來聖經之處境詮釋 

This course aims at introducing students to the approaches to reading the Hebrew Bible (The Christian Old Testament) in its literary, socio-political and religio-cultural contexts. The literary setting and historical background will be surveyed and explored in order to enhance students’ understanding of the text and the dynamics of the reading process.

RELS5300 The Study of Islam 伊斯蘭教研究 

This course will introduce the basic concepts of Islam to the students i.e. fundamentals of faith, rituals of worship, Seerah of the Prophet of Islam, Islamic Civilization and Muslim contribution to different cultures. It will help the students to understand the contemporary issues in the light of Islamic teachings and the methodogical issues in Islamic Studies. The course has been designed for such students who have never studied Islamic Studies so far.

RELS5312 Hindu Visions of Divinity 印度宗教的神明觀 

Hindu religious traditions offer a rich variety of concepts as well as visualizations of divinity, from highly abstracted and nuanced notions of the Deity to highly tangible and specific images seen and elaborately venerated in temples. By close readings of classical sacred texts (in translation), viewing iconography, and discussion of India’s historical and social contexts in which texts and images have been embedded, this course will explore the fascinating amalgam of ritual, yoga, textual exegesis, and devotionalism of the Hindu religious world.

RELS5316 Studies of Humanistic Buddhism 人間佛教研究 

From more than 2500 years, Buddhism has spread almost all parts of the world, and undergone the developments from Primitive Buddhism, Theravada, Mahayana, to Tantriyana. In the contemporary world, Humanistic Buddhism has become one of the mainstreams of Buddhist developments. And the ideas and practices for the welfare of society and benefit of humanity have dominated Buddhist activities. This course designed to study the development of Humanistic Buddhism, including the history, thoughts, and practices. This course is divided into three parts yet each part is organically connected with the others. We first investigate the basic doctrines of traditional Buddhism related to the arising and practice of humanistic Buddhism, such as the Four Noble Truth, the Dependent-Origination, the ideas and practices of Bodhisattva. Having understood the doctrinal foundation of Humanistic Buddhism, we then examine the history of humanistic Buddhism in the early Republic era (1912-1949). Social, political, religious, as well as economic background in which Humanistic Buddhism arose will be discussed so that students could have holistic picture about the interaction between Buddhist institutions and society then. The teaching and practice of some pioneers of Humanistic Buddhism, such as Ven. Taixu will be examined to reveal the contents of Humanistic Buddhism. Towards the end of semester, we explore the contemporary developments of humanistic Buddhism in general, and Foguan Shan Buddhism in particular.

THEO5226 Theology and Feminism 神學與女性主義 

The absence of women’s experiences and voices often seems the result and perpetuation of a blindness to gender inequality within the Church. To change this reality, we must return to a basic question: What does Christian theology reveal to the Church about the nature and place of women? The course aims at exposing students to a broad perspective and discussion about the dynamic relationship between theology and feminism. In addition to introducing the experiences of contemporary women and feminist critiques on violence, family, sexuality, poverty, ecology and media, the students will be encouraged to reexamine the ways in which the Western Judeo-Christian religious tradition has profoundly influenced our understanding of God and gender and to study the feminist interpretations of God-talks, sin and redemption, spirituality, leadership and church.

THEO5906 Methods and Paradigms of Christian Studies 基督教研究之方法與範式 

Starting from the traditional understanding of indigenization whereby culture are often looked upon as static entities, Christianity and Chinese culture will also be compared as they moved through the recent history of China as two living forces competing to shape the China that was to be. This is an open-ended course which will continuously be informed by recent trends and developments.

THEO5910 New Testament in Contexts 新約聖經處境詮釋 

This course will select some texts of the New Testament with contemporary methods for in-depth study. Texts include selected themes of the Pauline Epistles, Synoptic Gospels and Johannine Literature, e.g., Pauline Epistle Form, Doctrinal and Ethical Teachings; Eucharist, Baptism, Miracles and Teachings of the Synoptics; as well as Revelation structure, “I am saying”, Farewell Discourse of the Gospel of John.


Area 2: Religion, Society and Culture 宗教、社會與文化

RELS5129 Taoism and Chinese Culture 道教與中國文化 

This course aims at a general study of Taoism in Chinese cultural context. The focus is on Taoist elements and values in Chinese art, music, drama, and literature. This will allow students not only to study Taoism as one of Chinese religious traditions, but also to understand the intersections of Taoism and various aspects of Chinese culture. No prior knowledge of Taoism is assumed.

RELS5143 Contemporary Issues in Ethics, Society & Religion 宗教、社會及倫理學的現代問題 

This course attempts to explore the complexity of contemporary issues raised by ethics and society through a religious perspective. How religious thinking can be enriched and challenged by issues of bioethical, business, legal and political nature

RELS5273 Catholic Social Ethics 天主教社會倫理 

This course attempts to examine the principles and ways of Church’s responses to social issues from the Catholic faith tradition. Topics include the relationship between morality and spirituality, the foundation of social ethics, the methods of theological reflection and pastoral actions. Particular attention is given to Catholic Social Teachings and its development, and its perspectives on issues like human rights, economic justice and globalization, work and labour, ecology, political participation, racism, women’s status and so on. Catholic social movements and individuals will also be introduced.

RELS5314 Buddhism and Culture 佛教與文化 

This course provides an overview of the historical development of Buddhist culture in Asia. Main features elements of Buddhism in the diversified culture is highlighted. Theoretical foundations of Buddhist philosophy is delivered at the beginning, with reference to the development of the various Buddhist traditions, such as Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. Their impact, evolution and integration on and into different cultures are being studies, with reference to the contemporary Buddhist practices. Comparisons amongst various cultural elements would be made, providing a greater in depth understanding of the different aspects of Buddhist Culture and the dynamism of Buddhism in its adaptation to different cultures. The course will end with discussing the role of Buddhism in its influence in reshaping the culture of modern society, highlighting facts that will help in the formation of a harmonious society.

RELS5325 Christianity in Chinese Literature 中國文學中的基督教 

This course adopts an innovative approach to examine the interactions between Christianity and Chinese literature from the 19th to early 20th centuries. Literary texts to be analyzed include mainly the late Qing missionary novels, and works of May Fourth writers (such as Lu Xun, Bing Xin and Xu Dishan). This course aims to widen the students' perspectives in the indigenization of Christianity in Chinese religious and literary contexts, the rhetorical influences of the Bible on the emergence of modern Chinese literature, and the interdisciplinary study of literature and religion.

RELS5326 Chinese Religion and Literature 中國宗教與文學 

Chinese literature has long been intertwined with religion. While Confucian, Buddhist and Daoist thoughts permeates classical Chinese literature, a large number of works constitute a lively epitome of Chinese religious culture. This course aims to investigate the interactive relationship between Chinese religion and literature. Students will be guided to examine the literary value and rhetorical devices of Chinese religious classics and the ways in which religious thoughts and symbols shape the themes, narratives and language of the literary works. Texts selected for reading include Chinese religious classics like The Lotus Sutra and The Divine Classic of Nan Hua, classical novels such as The Story of the Stone and The Journey to the West, as well as Chan/Zen and Daoist poetry.

THEO5221 Protestantism in Reform China 改革開放時期的中國基督教 

The aim of this course is to help students to understand the development of Protestant Christianity in the Reform era in China, with emphasis on the interactions between Christianity and political, social and intellectual changes in China. Topics include church-state relationships, the Three-self Patriotic Movement, denominational and theological reflections, etc.

THEO5926 Christianity and Chinese Culture 基督教與中國文化 

Starting from the traditional understanding of indigenization whereby culture are often looked upon as static entities, Christianity and Chinese culture will also be compared as they moved through the recent history of China as two living forces competing to shape the China that was to be. This is an open-ended course which will continuously be informed by recent trends and developments.

Area 3: Religion, Life and Wisdom 宗教、人生與智慧

RELS5146 Religious Education and Personal Growth 宗教教育與個人成長 

This course will attempt to study some of the modern developmental theories such as Piaget’s cognitive developmental theory, Erikson’s socio-psychological theory, Kohlberg’ s moral developmental theory and Fowlers’ faith developmental theory. Special attention will be given to the evaluation of their signifi cance to education in a religious context.

RELS5323 Life and Death in World Religions 世界宗教的生死觀 

The problem of life and death constitutes the core concern of practically all religions of the world. The values and beliefs that relate to life and death have far-reaching impacts on different dimensions of religious practice. This course takes a thematic approach by examining and comparing the issues of life and death in some major religions in the world, including mainly the Indian, Chinese and Abrahamic traditions. The emphases and peculiarities of each religion will be illustrated from the doctrinal, textual, ritual and symbolic perspectives. Through the study of religion in different cultures, students will be equipped with a broadened horizon and fundamental framework for taking more advanced courses in all area of religious studies.

RELS5327 Wisdom in Religious Classics 從宗教經典看人生智慧  

The classics of different religious traditions offer a wealth of knowledge, insight and wisdom about nature, reality and life. The store of ancient wisdom accumulated in various cultures is oftentimes still relevant to our contemporary contexts. This course takes a textual and story approach by examining the notions and themes of wisdom in some major religions of the world. Through guided reading of selected passages from the religious classics, students may draw from the well of profound wisdom to stimulate their reflection on the approach of life, the way of looking at the world, and the recurring issues facing humanity. Texts selected for reading may include Zhuangzi, the Lotus Sutra, the Bible and the Quran, the Bhagavad Gītā, and so forth. The exact list of texts may be modified by the teacher who offers the course in a particular year.

RELS5328 Taoism, Health and Nourishing of Life 道教、健康與養生 

This course is designed to explore the rich heritage of Taoist self-cultivation tradition. The course begins with an understanding of Taoist cosmology and its correlation with human body by indepth reading of major Taoist texts, e.g. Inner Chapters of Baopu zi neipian, Wuzhen pian, Lingbao bifa, and Jinhua zongzhi. Students of this course will be taught how are how Taoist concept of qi shapes the understanding of health and perfection of human body, and develops the practices of self cultivation, e.g. inner alchemy, meditation, qigong exercises and etc. The approach of this course emphasizes lecture, discussion of reading materials and practice.

RELS5329 Buddhism, Right Mindfulness and Meditation 佛教、正念與禪修 

Centering on the notion of “right mindfulness”, this course aims to introduce students to the core topics on the Buddhist way to inner peace and happiness. The course will therefore address subjects such as affliction, self and no-self, the middle way, right mindfulness, and etc. Furthermore, the course will touch upon some common issues in modern life, and will investigate how they can gain inspirations from Buddhist perspectives, whether theoretical or practical. Towards the middle and the end of the course, students will learn essential methods of meditation based on Buddhist mindfulness. Students will thereby acquire an initial experience of meditation and take the benefits of meditative concentration into every aspect of their life.

RELS5335 Understanding Religion through Film 從電影看宗教  

This course is designed to assist students in recognizing religious concepts, east and west, through analyzing movies that seem to have to do with “religion” per se. The course will help students explore how religion may be treated as an integral human phenomena and how religion involves the fullness of the human world through film watching. In addition, the course provides students with opportunities to think critically about a wide range of meanings concerning the existence of human beings through particular films. A religious notion of interpretation will be taken to examine how the meanings are constructed and transmitted to viewers through various visual narrative forms and symbols. It also encourages students to appreciate the form of cinematic aesthetics and symbols from the interdisciplinary perspectives.


Area 4: Special Topics in Religious Studies 宗教專題研究

RELS5322 Research Paper in Religious Studies 宗教研究學術論文 

The research paper in Religious Studies, which is planned with our faculty and those faculty members in relevant fields, allows students to develop some of the ideas and skills they have acquired during their study with us. Every student must write a research paper in Religious Studies of not less than 15,000 words (in Chinese or English) on an approved topic under individualized supervision. Students will be able to acquire some fundamental skills and methodologies of doing research and writing a dissertation in Religious Studies. They will also be better equipped for an application for MPhil/PhD programmes. Even though there will be group and individual supervision to guide students through from start to finish, this is largely a self-taught course and student initiative is most important.

RELS5331 Special Topic in Religious Studies I 宗教研究專題(一) 

The specific topics of this course vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the teacher of that particular year. Generally, they can be topics and issues related to different religious traditions, religion and society, religion and culture, or religion and life.

RELS5332 Special Topic in Religious Studies II 宗教研究專題(二) 

The specific topics of this course vary from year to year, depending on the expertise of the teacher of that particular year. Generally, they may be more advanced themes and theories related to different religious traditions, religion and society, religion and culture, or religion and life.

RELS5333 Field Studies of Religious Culture 宗教文化田野考察 

Integrating classroom learning with field work in relation to religious culture, this course is designed to help students truly comprehend textual knowledge and develop deeper insights into religious understanding by engaging in the spatial, geographical and material dimensions of particular religious traditions. This is a three-credit course in which the majority of the academic work is accomplished through group study and travel to some carefully selected religious sites, whether overseas or domestic. It aims to provide students with a lively and effective learning experience at an off-campus location for a minimum of three overnights, and enhances the student’s classroom learning through first-hand exposure to the religious relics and material culture. Each study tour will be organized and headed by experienced members of teaching staff. The specific sites of visit will depend on the subject and theme of study designed by the teacher who offers the course in a particular year.