SOAS University of London

Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

Introduction to Classical Literary Tibetan (Masters)

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Full Year

This course is designed to provide the student with a sound footing in the basic structures of classical literary Tibetan. No previous knowledge of the language is necessary. The student will be introduced to the Tibetan alphabet, to the use of Tibetan dictionaries, and to the study of Tibetan grammar. The student will be exposed to translating exercises of increasing complexity, and by the end of the course shall be able to read elementary texts from the Tibetan literary tradition with minimal guidance by the instructor.


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

Scope and syllabus

During the first month, students are introduced to the Tibetan alphabet, rules of pronunciation, scripts and word-formation. The core of the course consists of a detailed study of virtually the whole spectrum 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 reading of elementary texts from the Tibetan literary tradition. Proficiency in the use of dictionaries and independent reflection upon the language itself are parallel aims.

Method of assessment

One three hour written examination taken in May/June (50%), regular grammar and vocabulary tests and participation in class discussion (50%).


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules