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, most of which will be scheduled in the third term of 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 Oriental 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 programme 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. Dissertations, which account for 30% of the final assessment, 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 Trinity term.

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 Himalyan Studies is collaborating closely with the Tibetan & Himalayan Studies Centre at Wolfson College.

Please click here to access 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 Oriental Institute. In addition to this, you may find useful the Bodleian Oriental 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 (https://www.wolfson.ox.ac.uk/clusters/tibetan-himalayan) in Tibetan and Himalayan studies. 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 focus on Oriental studies, such as:

The Sackler Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and ancient Near Eastern Studies. The Khalili Research Centre is the University of Oxford's centre for research and teaching in the art and material culture of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of non-Muslim members and neighbours

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 Oriental Institute, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Sources of funding

Applications recieved for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications fulfill 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.