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Centre of Buddhist Studies

Buddhist Studies at SOAS

The Department of the Study of Religions is admirably equipped to offer wide-ranging combination of courses on Buddhism throughout Asia. In addition to some twenty BA and MA taught courses on Buddhism, which are offered every year in the Department of the Study of Religions, there are also courses in other departments, such as the Department of History of Art and Archeology, which deal specifically or partially with Buddhist subjects. The language courses relating to Buddhist Studies cover Sanskrit, Pali, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Tibetan, Sinhala, Thai, Burmese, and Vietnamese. The teaching of languages is further strengthened in the Department of the Study of Religions by offering a number of language-based courses in reading Buddhist texts.

At the BA level Buddhism is not available as a single-subject, but it is taught as part of the BA in the Study of Religions, and the BA Study of Religions combined with a language or one of the disciplines taught at SOAS. At this level the Department offers a viable cluster of courses on Buddhism in South and Central Asia, Tibet, China and Japan.

Students wishing to focus on Buddhist Studies at MA level may sign up for the new MA Buddhist Studies. This programme will appeal to anyone wishing to broaden their knowledge of Buddhism and Buddhist traditions as a whole, and will offer unique opportunities to those intending to embark on further research or fieldwork among Buddhist communities.

In terms of postgraduate research, staff members of the Department are qualified to offer guidance and supervision in a wide range of research areas relating to Buddhist literature, doctrine, philosophy, history, ritual, iconography, and art in South Asia, Tibet, Central Asia, China and Japan.

Four staff members in the Department of the Study of Religions are fully or substantially involved in teaching Buddhism at the undergraduate and master levels, and in supervising postgraduate research. There are also staff members in other departments who teach courses relating to Buddhism and offer postgraduate supervision in the areas of Buddhist art, music, and law.

In addition to regular courses on Buddhism at the undergraduate and postgraduate levels, the Centre of Buddhist Studies convenes The Buddhist Forum, a long-standing and well reputed lecture series offering a venue for international scholars to present their latest research to a wide and interested audience. The Centre for the Study of Japanese Religions also convenes regular lectures and seminars, which frequently include Buddhist topics.  The lectures and conferences organised by the Circle of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies predominantly deal with Buddhist art, literature and other aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. There are also lectures and seminars in other departments, which frequently include Buddhist topics.

Finally, the Library at SOAS holds the most comprehensive collection of books on Buddhist Asia within university libraries in the UK, and the neighbouring British Library and British Museum, both located in historic Bloomsbury, house unique resources and unparalleled treasure-troves of Buddhist artefacts.