Hong Kong - RLG415H5S: Religion and Death

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​The Course

This course will consider general concepts of religion and death in relation to the specific and very diverse religious life of Hong Kong. This will include some discussion of traditions such as Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, and Taoism. It will also include discussion of Hong Kong traditions not necessarily tied to specific religions. One of our main questions will be to consider how a particular location impacts various beliefs and practices. In this case, that means asking "How and why is religion and death in Hong Kong not like religion and death in other places?"

The Trip

Experience 7 incredible days learning about the concepts of religion and death in Hong Kong and why it’s unlike any other place. This will include the opportunity to discuss the impact of location on beliefs and traditions with Professor Ken Derry!

In order to see how different traditions deal with death, we will spend some time at various religious cemeteries. Conveniently, there are many of these close to one another in (ironically named) Happy Valley. There we will encounter cementeries that are Catholic, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim, Protestant, and Sikh. Students will continue this exploration on their own by arranging to meet with representatives of one or two traditions.

Want a student perspective? This is a new experience, but you can read student blogs from other trips here!

Why Participate

  • Visit the Big Buddha and experience the rich cultures and traditions of Hong Kong, while meeting with representatives of different traditions;
  • Explore one of the most vibrant and important cities in the world while eating amazing food;
  • Take ownership of your learning and research Hong Kong religions that most interest you;
  • Connect with your classmates and professor outside the classroom.


Estimated cost of International Component*: CAD2900-$3400 

*The amount posted is currently under review by the University Business Board. Approved amounts will be confirmed in March 2018. 

What is Included: Flights, transportation, accommodation, meals and in-country activities associated with the course. Funding Available!

What is NOT Included: Course fees, fees associated with travel insurance, trip cancellation insurance, additional optional tours/activities while abroad, visa applications, medical exams, vaccinations, and any other additional costs.

Funding: This experience is offered with the generous support of the Office of the Dean, which means;

  • All undergraduate UTM students enrolled in the course will receive $500 towards the international component of the course, should their application be successful.
  • Plus, additional bursaries will be awarded based on demonstrated financial need (not linked to OSAP) as shown in your funding request in your UTM Abroad application.
  • Read more about funding here!

Important Dates

Payment Timeline

Safety Abroad Workshops

Trip-Specific Sessions & Deadlines

Date Time Location Description
Friday, January 18, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm DV3129 Orientation
Friday, Febrauary 8, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm DV3129 Pre-Departure Session
February 2019 - Winter Reading Week    

Travel Dates

Friday, March 15, 2019 3:00pm-4:00pm DV3129 Post-Trip Session


Day(s): 1-2

Description: Our journey will begin at Pearson International Airport where the group will meet three hours prior to departure and embark on an overnight flight to Hong Kong. We will arrive in Hong Kong late at night and will go straight to our hostel in the city centre where we will meet the wonderful staff that will host us for the week.

Day: 3

Description: We’ll start our day with breakfast at a local restaurant and head towards the Happy Valley Cemetery which includes centuries old graves and monuments of Europeans who died in Hong Kong during the First World War. During the visit, we’ll learn about how different traditions deal with death. Then we will head towards a restaurant to eat a delicious Hong Kong meal!

Day: 4

Description: Our fourth day begins with a visit to the Pak Sing Temple. The word pak shing means ‘people’ meaning this was a temple for the common people. The temple was built in the mid 1800s to serve as a public ancestral hall for those who could not afford the expense of bone repatriation. Here, we will get to experience the rich history associated with the temple and how it has impacted the many traditions of Hong Kong.

Day: 5

Description: We’ll be starting our fifth and most exciting day early in the morning as we have a long trip ahead of us to Disneyland! We’ll have the opportunity to step out of our comfort zone and experience Disneyland in a completely different culture! Most importantly, we will be visiting the haunted houses in Disneyland. This visit isn’t just for you to get a good scare, but for you to also learn about the tightly held beliefs and traditions associated with the dead. You’ll be shocked by the differences!

Day(s): 6-7

Description: In the next couple of days, we will be visiting the Wong Tai Sin Temple and Queen Street West. Wong Tai Sin Temple is a beautifully ornamented and colourful religious centre that claims to ‘make every wish come true upon request’! It is home to the 3 religions of Taoism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. We’ll get to meet with each of the religious representatives and learn about their differing views on death, allowing for a truly mind-opening experience! The next day, we’ll have the opportunity to visit Queens Road West to look at the century-old Haunted Tree at Sai Ying Pun Station and Joss Paper Stores to do some shopping.

Day: 8

Description: On our final day here, we’ll be getting up early to enjoy as much of our time left in Hong Kong as possible. To make this day extra special, we’ll be visiting one of the most popular attractions in Hong Kong: the Big Buddha! Although it will be a long journey to reach this site, it’ll be worth it! This large bronze statue of Buddha Shakyamuni symbolises the harmonious relationship between man and nature, people and faith. Not to mention that it is a major religious centre of Buddhism in Hong Kong!  We’ll have the chance to understand how religious practices and beliefs are affected by location and visit the 3 floors beneath the statue called the halls of the Universe, of Benevolent Merit, and of Remembrance.

Day: 9

Description: On this day, we will leave for the airport early in the morning and heading back home to share our unique and unforgettable experiences with friends and family!

*The itinerary is subject to change based on availability and requirements of the program.

Need To Know

  • The cost and itinerary are subject to change;
  • Students must be enrolled in RLG415 and will be required to abide by the corresponding UTM Abroad application requirements and deadlines to participate in the international experience; 
  • Payments can be made over five installments. Fees must be paid in full by the required deadlines;
  • To prepare for the trip, students attending will participate in a mandatory pre-departure and safety abroad session during the month of September.


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