SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Classical Tibetan

Module Code:
Unit value:
Year of study:
Year 1 or Year 2
Taught in:
Full Year



Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  • read the Tibetan script,
  • have a comprehensive grasp of Tibetan grammar,
  • understand a respectable range of vocabulary and use a dictionary
  • read elementary texts in literary Tibetan with minimal guidance


Total of 20 weeks teaching with 4 hours classroom contact in language classes per week.

Scope and syllabus

During the first month, students are introduced to the Tibetan alphabet, its methods of transcription, rules of pronunciation, and word-formation. 

The core of the module consists of a detailed study of Tibetan grammar and syntax, and its practical application as exemplified through reading carefully selected sentences in Tibetan.

Afterwards, emphasis will shift away from grammatical exercises to the guided reading of elementary texts from the Tibetan literary tradition. Proficiency in the use of dictionaries will also be fostered. 

Method of assessment

One three-hour written examination taken in May/June (60%); homework (20%); in class tests (20%).

Suggested reading

A reading list will be made available to students at the beginning of the module.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules