Language Centre

Tibetan (Classical) Beginners Course

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Key information

1 term per sub-level; 10 weeks per term
Attendance mode
Part-time, online/blended learning

Course overview

Course aim

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 practicing 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 is delivered by the Language Centre


The course is taught in English and Tibetan. Class size is limited to 16 to allow close involvement.

This will be achieved through 20 hours of blended learning: this is composed of 15 hours of online structured lessons with the teacher. This is supplemented by a minimum of 5 hours of guided independent learning supported by complementary material and regular feedback from the tutor. The course objective will be achieved within the 10-week course.

Online course requirements

Please ensure you have checked the learner support page


Course materials, if not supplied, are not included in the fee but can be purchased from SOAS bookshop -

Please see under Structure below for course content and materials.

Entry requirements and progression route

For the first stage of Tibetan Beginners (i.e. Beginners 1), no previous knowledge is required. To be able to join Beginners 2 or 3 you should have completed Beginners 1 and 2 respectively at SOAS Language Centre or have an equivalent knowledge of guided learning hours (equivalent of 20 hours per each sub-level). The progression route from Tibetan Beginners 1 is to Tibetan Beginners 2; from Beginners 2 to Beginners 3. Upon successful completion of Tibetan Beginners 3 you will be able to progress to the Elementary level course in Tibetan.  

Please note, that each term, courses are subject to quorum requirements.

Tibetan Beginners 2 is scheduled for our term commencing 16 January 2023.

For course dates and information, please see our timetables.


Course contents and synopsis

Course syllabus

The above is an indication of content that may be covered over the duration of the course but it could vary depending on the level and progress of students in the class.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules

See more information on the Tibetan language on the Language Centre Tibetan homepage

Related information

Back to the Language Centre