SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

Tibetan (Classical) 1

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

PLEASE NOTE: This module will be divided into two 15-credit modules next academic year (i.e Language A and Language B). The overall objectives and outcomes for the year will not change. There may be some slight changes to the formal assessment. Students will be required to take a written test in the last week of Term 1 and should therefore not plan to be absent from SOAS at this time.



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%).

Language lifeboat

Year 1 students who are in danger of failing a language open option can be permitted to discontinue the module from the end of term 1 and enroll instead on an essay-based 'Studies' module. Students must have attended 80% of the open option classes to be eligible. The Studies module will be assessed by two 2500 word essays.

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