Introduction to Buddhism

introduction to buddhismwebsite

Introduction to Buddhism (course at the weekends delivered in Oxford)

The OCBS will be delivering this course in Trinity term 2017.  Completion of the course will bring a certificate from the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies – A Recognised Independent Centre of the University of Oxford.

This course is open to all.

7 Week course: 1.5 hours each week.

Dates: 29 April 2017 – 10 June 2017.   Saturdays: 4pm – 5.30pm

Location: Brasenose College

Course Fee: £130


Aim: To offer students a solid foundation in Buddhist thought and Buddhism’s role in historical and modern day society.


  • To establish a solid understanding of the historical roots of early Buddhism.
  • To ensure students have a good grasp of the fundamentals of Buddhist philosophical thought.
  • To engage students in the dialogue between Buddhism and society: past and present.

The course is taught by Sangseraima Ujeed – a doctoral student at the University of Oxford.

There is the option to complete a 1 x 1500 word end of course essay if you wish to further explore an area of your studies.

There will also be an end of course seminar followed by an end of term formal dinner in an Oxford college.

Full details below.  To register please contact


This seven-week course consists of weekly sessions of one and a half-hour lectures. Each lecture will last around one hour to leave sufficient time for questions and group discussions at the end. It is aimed as a foundation course and covers historical roots of the religion, the philosophical theories, the Buddhist community and its role and interactions within societies of the past and the present. The socio-religious backdrop of the Vedic world within which the Buddha was born and founded Buddhism together with its fundamental philosophical principles such as karma and causation will be dealt with in the first three weeks of the course. Other essential features of Buddhism, namely meditation, the Buddhist community (sangha) and King Aśoka are dealt with from weeks 4-6. The last week of the course concerns later Buddhism namely the Mahāyana, which should draw together the topics of the previous weeks and provide students with the necessary foundations to explore further the Buddhist world in the form of further academic courses or self-study.

Course Outline

Week 1: The Buddha and Society

  • – Religious and socio-cultural constellations in India at the time of the Buddha
  • – Brahmanical society, Vedic cosmology, philosophy and worldview
  • The Śramaas
  • – The life of the Buddha
  • – The Jātakas

Week 2: The Foundations of the Buddha’s teachings 1

  • – Karma
  • – Ethics
  • – The four noble truths

Week 3: The Foundations of the Buddha’s teachings 2

  • – Causation
  • – No soul and rebirth

Week 4: Meditation

  • – The theory of mediation
  • – The different types of meditative methods
  • – The role of meditation

Week 5: The Sangha

  • – The early Sangha
  • – The vināya

Week 6: King Aśoka

  • – The spread of Buddhism in India
  • – The later Buddhist sanghas and society (leading into Mahāyana)

Week 7: Later Buddhism: Mahāyana

  • – Mahāyana continued
  • – Vajrayāna


Recommended pre-course reading list:

Gethin, Rupert (1998) Foundations of Buddhism. Oxford University Press: Oxford.

Lowenstein, Tom (1996) The Vision of the Buddha. Macmillan: London.