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Introduction to Tibetan (Classical)

Duration: 20 hours (2 hours a week for 10 weeks)


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Mode of Attendance: Part Time

This SOAS Language Centre course in Classical Tibetan is designed to give participants the ability to read and understand Tibetan Buddhist texts in the original script.

The aim is to be able to read aloud Tibetan prayers, liturgies, meditation rituals and religious poetry, and also have some immediate understanding of their meaning. Thus a practitioner eventually will not have to rely on transcriptions and translations of Tibetan Buddhist material, but will be able to relate to the original directly.

The course takes the form of first learning the Tibetan script and how words are formed and pronounced, then practising the reading of a graduated series of Tibetan Buddhist practice texts.
As reading progresses, the meaning and structure of the language used in the readings will be explained. Gradually, participants learn to read aloud and to understand what is being read. The readings are carefully chosen to accommodate a diversity of interests.

This course assumes no existing knowledge of the language and no assessment is therefore required prior to application. Prospective students are welcome to contact the tutor with any queries about the course before registering (Charles Manson cm48@soas.ac.uk).



The course is taught in English and Tibetan. Class size is limited to 15 to allow close involvement.

Summary of course contents
  • Introducing Tibetan script
  • Word formation
  • Pronunciation
  • Reading aloud, at graduated speeds
  • Learning the meaning of the readings with grammatical explanations
  • Overview of relevant vocabulary and grammar



Course materials for learning the script and the language will be provided, and also the material to be read will be provided. There may be some small costs for photocopying.


The course is taught in a group with a maximum of 15 students. Classes will be held at the Bloomsbury or Kings Cross Campus of SOAS in central London. For each of the two terms participants receive 20 hours of tuition over a 10-week period (with additional weeks where public holidays displace a class session).

See our online store to book a place on this course.

Language Centre How To Apply

You can enrol:

Not a complete beginner?

If you are not a complete beginner, you will need to complete an assessment for course placement, allowing us to decide which course is right for you.

To apply for an assessment please complete our Needs Analysis Form (pdf; 187kb) and send to the relevant email inbox where a Course Officer will contact you for scheduling.

Course Fees and Discounted Rates

An overview of our Short Course Fees and Discounted Rates.

If you are eligible for a discount, you will not be able to complete your transaction on the Online Store. You will need to bring a paper Application Form (pdf; 462kb) , including your Staff/Student card for us to make a copy of, after which we can process your application at the discounted rate.

Returning students

If you are a returning student, you will have received a letter informing you of the procedures for rejoining prior to the start of the registration period. You can pay using any method indicated above. Returning students, if they are continuing onto the course indicated as the progression course, do not need to be assessed.