Tibetan and Himalayan Studies MPhil

The golden chorten at the Tashiding monastery complex in West Sikkim. Photograph by Dhillan Chandramowli. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

This programme aims to introduce Tibetan and Himalayan studies to students who do not have a background in the subject. Emphasis is on teaching the Tibetan language (both spoken and literary). Students are also introduced to the history and civilisation of the area, including Tibetan history, society, literature and religions.

During full term students will typically attend around seven or eight hours per week of face-to-face classes, lectures or tutorials. Students will be expected to come to these well-prepared through self-directed study and reading. Academic articles and books will be assigned for general background on the region, and there will be weekly lectures on various aspects of Tibetan history and civilisation as well as lectures on Buddhism in the first and second terms. Selected topics will be treated in more detail in a set of eight essays/tutorials, which will be scheduled in the first year. Throughout the course, attendance at lectures by visiting scholars will be strongly recommended.

Students will be encouraged to use the long summer vacation between the first and second year to attend a summer school abroad or visit Tibetan-speaking communities in Tibet or in South Asia to develop language skills, and to begin work on their dissertation.

Teaching takes place through language classes, lectures, seminars and tutorials. 

Many graduates in Asian and Middle Eastern studies have undertaken further research and pursued successful careers in the academic world, education, publishing and in museums. Some graduates have also chosen a different career path and found employment in other fields including business, finance, law, civil service, journalism, government and industry.

Graduates of the MPhil in Tibetan and Himalayan Studies often wish to continue onto the DPhil, and from there move on to postdoctoral academic positions, research projects in Tibetan studies, or Buddhist translation projects. While academic research is a typical career path, many graduates have also pursued careers  in related fields, including research and writing, charities and NGOs, education, film making, and creative industries.


There will be a qualifying exam at the end of the first year. The assessments for the final exams consist of an extended essay, a dissertation, and four written examination papers. Dissertations are to be submitted early in the third term of the second year. Final exams covering language, set texts, history and civilisation are then held at the end of the second year.

Further information on the course, and the examination process, can be found in the course handbook here (information is current for the academic year of publication).

Further Information 

Tibetan and Himalayan Studies is collaborating closely with the Tibetan & Himalayan Studies Centre at Wolfson College (https://thsc.web.ox.ac.uk/). 

Please click here to access recordings of the Tibetan Graduates Studies Seminar (TGSS), a weekly series of colloquia and guest lectures at the Oriental Institute. 


You will have access to the Nizami Ganjavi Library at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition to this, you may find useful the Bodleian  Asian and Middle Eastern Collections and the Eastern Art library. The Bodleian Library hosts a collection of Tibetan manuscripts and block prints that can be used for study and research. 

Wolfson College is home to an interdisciplinary research group in Tibetan and Himalayan studies (https://thsc.web.ox.ac.uk/). The library of Wolfson College also has a collection of books relevant to Tibetan and Himalayan studies. 

The Eastern Art department of the Ashmolean Museum contains collections encompassing art from the Islamic world, the Indian subcontinent, South-East Asia, China, Japan and Korea, and including ceramics, sculpture, metalwork, paintings, prints, textiles and other arts. The collections as a whole outstrip those of any other university museum. The Indian and Himalayan collections are of international importance and particularly strong in sculpture. 

The Pitt Rivers Museum holds important collections of ethnographic material from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Tibet, Nepal and Sri Lanka which can be seen on display in the museum as well as in the reserve collection. The Pitt Rivers also hosts the 'Tibet Album', a unique online resource with early photographs from Tibet. 

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that contain relevant materials, such as: 

You will also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet. 

Sources of funding 

Applications received for this course by the January deadline will be considered for funding if applications meet the eligibility criteria. Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for. 

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities. For MPhil students of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, the Faculty also provides grants for attendance at Tibetan summer schools between the first and second year of the course. 

Grants and student funding in Tibetan & Himalayan Studies are also available at Wolfson College; see https://thsc.web.ox.ac.uk/ for further information.