School of History, Religions and Philosophies & Department of Religions and Philosophies

Professor Ulrich Pagel

Key information

Department of Religions and Philosophies Seiyu Kiriyama Professor in Buddhist Studies Centre of Buddhist Studies Committee member Centre of Jaina Studies Member Centre of Contemporary Central Asia and the Caucasus Academic staff China Institute Academic staff Centre of Yoga Studies Chair
BA, PhD (London)
Russell Square: College Buildings
Room 343
Email address
Telephone number
+44 (0)20 7898 4782
Support hours
Mondays 2:00 pm - 3:00 pm


Ulrich Pagel is the Seiyu Kiriyama Professor of Buddhist Studies and Chair of the Centre of Yoga Studies at SOAS University of London.

He served as Head of the School of History, Religions and Philosophies from 2018–2022. Since 2012, Ulrich Pagel has convened the MA Traditions of Yoga and Meditation at SOAS, both leading the programme and contributing extensively to its teaching delivery.

In 2022, he established international partnerships between SOAS and a number of Chinese yoga institutions to develop the innovative Yoga and Meditation Education Certificate, which is taught online and offered in Chinese.

He also teaches Classical Tibetan at the SOAS Language Centre.

Ulrich Pagel previously worked as Assistant Professor (Tibetan Language and Literature) at the University of Washington (Seattle) (1997–1999) and the British Library (Curator of the Tibetan Collections, 1993–1997). 

He also served two terms as General Secretary of the International Association of Buddhist Studies (2011 to 2019) and lead the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies as Editor-in-Chief (2010 to 2016). 

Academic management

Service in international associations

  • General Secretary, International Association of Buddhist Studies (2011-2019)

Previous doctoral supervisees

  • Ville Husgafel, “MBSR as a Post-Buddhist Tradition of Meditation” (PhD awarded in 2023)
  • Meng Wang, “The Life of the 16th Karmapa and his Role in the Tibetan Buddhist Transmission to the West” (PhD awarded in 2019)
  • Susan Roach, “Renunciation and Asceticism in Early Buddhism with Reference to the Mūlasarvāstivāda-vinaya” (PhD awarded in 2018)
  • Patricia Sauthoff, “Open Secrets and the Retention of Power in Esoteric Kashmiri Śaivism: The views of Abhinavagupta, Kṣemarāja, Jayaratha and Yogarāja” (PhD awarded in 2017).
  • Adam Pearcey, “The Great Perfection (Rdzogs chen) according to Rdo grub chen ‘Jigs med bstan pa’i nyi ma (1865-1926), his Collaborators and Disciples” (PhD awarded in 2018).
  • Karen O’Brien-Kop, “Seed and Cloud as Metaphors of Liberation in Buddhist and Patañjala Yoga: An Intertextual Study (PhD awarded in 2018)
  • Cathy-Mae Karelse, “Modern Mindfulness: the case of the United Kingdom and United States” (PhD awarded in 2019)
  • Serena Biondo, “Life and Teachings of the 10th-century Tibetan Master A ro Ye shes ‘Byung gnas” UK Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded (PhD awarded in  2017)
  • Karen Liljenberg, “A Critical Study of the Thirteen Later Translations of the rDzogs chen Mind Series” (PhD awarded in 2012)
  • Ligeia Lugli, “The Conception of Language in Indian Mahāyāna Buddhism, with special reference to the Laṅkāvatārasūtra” (PhD awarded in 2011)
  • Lewis Doney, “The Historical Depictions of King Khri srong lde btsan in Eighth to Twelfth Century Tibet” (PhD awarded in 2011)
  • Jan Westerhoff: “Causation in early Madhyamaka Writings” (PhD awarded in 2007)
  • Osto, Douglas Edward: “The Good Friends of the Gaṇḍavyūha: A Study in Wealth, Gender and Power in a Buddhist Narrative” (PhD awarded in 2004)
  • Yoeli Tlalim, Ronit, “Contemporary Teachings of the Kālacakratantra in Exile” (PhD awarded in 2003).
  • Shi Zhen Jing: “The Literature of the Great Decease: Mahāparinirvāṅa Materials in Theravāda, Mahāyāna and Taoism” (PhD awarded in 2003)

Research interests

Mahāyāna Literature, Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Ancient India, Buddhist Monasticism, Buddhist Philosophy, Traditions of Buddhist Meditation.

PhD Supervision

  • Jason Upton, “The Role of the Body in rDzogs chen in the 10th to 15th Century” (since 2018/19) 
  • Peter Cherry,  “The Vajropamasamādhi in Indian Buddhism (since 2019)
  • Xueyang Lei: “Monastic Identities in the Mūlasarvastivāda Schoo of Buddhism”  (since 2021)
  • Lea Maegli: “Teaching Buddhism to Pupils at Secondary Schools in Switzerland”, University of Zurich,  (since 2019)
  • Keith Clarke: “The Buddha of Two Faces” (since 2019)


Name Title
Rosemary Busto Religious and Ascetic Influences on Modern Yoga (Working title)
Ngawang Jungney (Kai-Hsiang Lin) A History of Khön Vajrakīlaya Practice and Its Multiple Constructions (working tile)
Dobdon Maksarov Mind and Valid Cognition: The Tibetan Interpretation and its Development through Philosophical Debates in Gelugpa Monastic Education


Contact Ulrich