Syllabus for REL-406



Eastern Religions is an introductory course, offering a foundation in religious literacy. The religious traditions encountered in this course are those that are alive today and involve the lives of a significant number of people worldwide--Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism, Daoism, Confucianism, and Shinto.

The course is interdisciplinary in that it includes historical and social materials, literary and artistic expressions, and philosophical and theological insights of world religions. In a world that has become increasingly aware of its cultural diversity and richness, it is clear that one way to gain access to that diversity and richness is by exploring the religious consciousness and practice of a people.


The basic goal of Eastern Religions is to explore the meaning of religion, its broad characteristics, and religious consciousness, practice, and expression exemplified in the history and religions of Asia. After completing this course, you should be able to:

CO1        Discuss the roles and functions of religion in human history and contemporary life, especially Eastern religions.

CO2        Name, define, and discuss some of the important features and concepts used in religious studies, and give examples of each of these features from the religious traditions under study.

CO3        Recognize the differences among the religious traditions under study.

CO4        Explain the patterns for comparison and contrast of the religions under study.

CO5        Appreciate the religious-based issues and conflicts in the modern world and contribute to their mediation in whatever ways touch your life.

CO6        Develop insights into the religions under study that can enrich life.

CO7        Analyze the value and benefits of studying the religions featured in this course.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University’s textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN-13: 978-0078038273

ISBN-13: 978-0205246809


Eastern Religions is a three-credit online course, consisting of six modules. Modules include study materials and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and take proctored midterm and final examinations. See below for details.

Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to posting an introduction to the class in Module 1, you are required to participate in five graded online discussions, each focusing on an issue relating to Eastern religions.

Communication with the mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate, the reading, or your mentor, state and support your agreement or disagreement. You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation. Responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, professional, and respectful.

Your initial responses and subsequent comments on classmates' responses are due on the days specified by the Course Calendar. You can view the grading rubric in the Evaluation Rubrics folder.

Written Assignments

Eastern Religions has six written assignments. Check the Course Calendar for when you are to submit these assignments to your mentor. Go to the various modules of the course to find the written assignment questions you are asked to reflect upon and submit to your mentor.

Responses to written assignment questions are expected to be well developed and reasonably detailed essays. Your answers to each numbered question should be at least three double-spaced typewritten pages. Therefore, since every written assignment includes two questions, you are required to submit a total of at least six pages for the assignment: three pages on question 1 and three pages on question 2.

Your answers should clearly demonstrate your understanding of the required texts. Refer primarily to these texts for your answers, but also complement this information, when necessary, with material from other print or online sources. Do not merely copy answers from your required texts or from other sources, but when you make use of such material, be sure you cite it properly (i.e., with footnotes or endnotes).

Prepare your written assignments using whatever word processing program you have on your computer. Include your name at the top of the paper, as well as the course name and code and the semester and year in which you are enrolled.

Before submitting your first assignment, check with your mentor to determine whether your word processing software is compatible with your mentor's software. If so, you can submit your work as you prepared it. If not, save your assignment as a rich-text (.rtf) file, using the Save As command of your software program. Rich text retains basic formatting and can be read by any other word processing program.

You can view the grading rubric in the Evaluation Rubrics folder.


You are required to take two proctored examinations: a midterm and a final. See the Course Calendar for the official dates of your midterm and final exam weeks.

For the both of these online examinations you are required to use the University’s Online Proctor Service. Please refer to the "Examinations and Proctors" section of the Online Student Handbook (see the General Information area of the course Web site) for further information about scheduling and taking online exams and for all exam policies and procedures. You are strongly advised to make your scheduling arrangements for both exams within the first week of the semester.

Online exams are administered in the Tests & Quizzes area of the course Web site.

Midterm Examination

The midterm is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two and a half hours long and covers material in Modules 1, 2, and 3. It consists of short essay and essay questions.

Final Examination

The final is a closed-book, proctored online exam. It is two and a half hours long and covers material in Modules 4, 5, and 6. It consists of short essay and essay questions.

Statement about Cheating

You are on your honor not to cheat during an exam. Cheating means:

If there is evidence that you have cheated or plagiarized in an exam, the exam will be declared invalid, and you will fail the course.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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