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Unit of study_

ASNS1601: Introduction to Asian Cultures

Semester 2, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

This introductory unit explores the histories and cultures of Asia across time, up to the modern era. The curriculum aims to provide both the essential knowledge and intellectual skills necessary for more advanced study of Asia, and to lay the groundwork for comparative investigation of trans-Asian phenomena. Topics and themes may include: religion, ritual, and philosophical thought; sacred kings and capitals; hierarchy and social order; family, kinship and gender systems; art, architecture, and archaeology.

Unit details and rules

Unit code ASNS1601
Academic unit
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge


Available to study abroad and exchange students


Teaching staff

Coordinator Jim Rheingans,
Lecturer(s) Jim Rheingans,
Tutor(s) Matthew Steggles,
Type Description Weight Due Length
Assignment Final essay
Short-answer essay
35% Formal exam period 2000
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Participation Tutorial participation
Active participation.
10% Multiple weeks n/a
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Geography quiz
10% Week 05 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1
Assignment Reflective progress essay
Short reflective progress essay about topics taught previously.
25% Week 09 1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO2
Assignment Online quiz
Multiple-choice quiz
10% Weekly 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2
Assignment Online quiz
Multiple-choice quiz
10% Weekly 500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2

Assessment summary

Geography Quiz; Quizzes weeks 2-7; Quizzes weeks 8-13. Participation in Zoom tutorials via comments, or short reflection piece for those who are not able to be part of the Zoom tutorials (max 300 words). Short reflective essays (1,000) words Final essay (200 words)

Assessment criteria

The University awards common result grades, set out in the Coursework Policy 2014 (Schedule 1).

As a general guide, a High distinction indicates work of an exceptional standard, a Distinction a very high standard, a credit a good standard, and a pass an acceptable standard.

Result name

Mark range


High distinction

85 - 100

Demonstrates a high level of understanding of content combined with strong analytical ability, especially an ability to construct original arguments from evidence.


75 - 84

Demonstrates good understanding of content combined with good analytical ability, especially an ability to construct sound arguments from evidence.


65 - 74

Demonstrates understanding of content combined with analytical ability, especially an ability to construct arguments from evidence.


50 - 64

Demonstrates basic understanding of content and ability to construct an analytical argument. 


0 - 49

When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.

For more information see

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

This unit has an exception to the standard University policy or supplementary information has been provided by the unit coordinator. This information is displayed below:

The Assessment Procedures 2011 provide that any written work submitted after 11:59pm on the due date will be penalised by 5% of the maximum awardable mark for each calendar day after the due date. If the assessment is submitted more than ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded. However, a unit of study may prohibit late submission or exclude late penalties only if expressly stated below.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 01 What is Asia? Introduction to key themes in Asian Studies Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO4
Approaches to Study Tutorial (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Week 02 Transnational Studies of Asia Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Live Session: Transnational feature of Asia Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Asian studies and transnationalism Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO3
Week 03 Ancient India Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Ancient Indian religion Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Discussions of readings on Ancient India and Vedic religion Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 04 South Asia and the origins of Buddhism Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Key concepts of Buddhism Seminar (1 hr) LO2
Emperor Aśoka and Buddhism Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 05 Ancient China Online class (1 hr) LO1
Understanding China Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
China and Confucianism Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 06 China 2 Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
China and Buddhism Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
China and Buddhism Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 07 Korea Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Korea and Sila Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Ancient and modern culture in Korea Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 08 Ancient Japan Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Key features of Japanese high culture Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Readings in Japanese culture Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Week 09 Early modern Japan Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Developments in Japanese culture and religion Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Confucianism and Bushido in Japan Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 10 Understanding Southeast Asia Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Southeast Asia Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2
Indian religions in Southeast Asia Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 11 Early modern Southeast Asia Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Southeast Asian culture Seminar (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Topics in Southeast Asian culture Tutorial (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Week 12 Islam in Southeast Asia Online class (1 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3
Understanding Islam Seminar (1 hr) LO2 LO3
Reading on Islam Tutorial (1 hr) LO2
Week 13 What is 'Asia'? Online class (1 hr) LO4
Q & A on Asia Seminar (1 hr) LO3 LO4
Closing debate Tutorial (1 hr) LO4

Attendance and class requirements


1x1hr on-line module; 1x1hr ‘live session’ (seminar) via Zoom; 1x1hr tutorial via Zoom

Lecture recording: The lectures are only available on-line form in this Unit. The ‘live sessions’ or seminars are intended as discussions of the lecture material, and therefore, like seminars, recordings will be of very limited value.


Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Required readings

The reader will be distributed digitally by the lectuer of this unit. All further readings will be available as e-book/online via the Fisher Library.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Demonstrate awareness of key elements relevant to the study of Asia, including major geographic features, monuments, writing systems, dynasties and key historical figures.
  • LO2. Describe—both orally and in writing—the key traits of Asia’s major religions and philosophies.
  • LO3. Apply the concept of a 'trans-national' approach to different Asian societies.
  • LO4. Challenge dominant narratives about Asia, demonstrating an awareness of complexity and change over time.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

This unit is updated each year on the basis of student feedback and peer review.


The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

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