This course is discontinued

REL2080 – Intensive course in Buddhist Philology (ICBPh)

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

In essence, the course consists of the systematic study of parallel Buddhist texts preserved in Sanskrit (or Pali), Chinese and Tibetan. Its purpose is to train students in the interrelation between these texts: Chinese and Tibetan texts are usually translations of Sanskrit originals and represent the Buddhist canonical scriptures of these two important traditions. A sound knowledge of trilingual philology is important in order to develop expertise in numerous areas of Buddhist thinking and history.

Learning outcome

The course is designed to enable students of Buddhism to access the scriptural materials of the Buddhist tradition in their original languages. At the end of the course, they will be equipped to advance their studies using primary sources in the original languages, including Pali, Sanskrit, Chinese and Tibetan.


Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.

If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.

Min. 5 - max. 10 students.

For further information about admission to the course, contact prof. Jens Braarvig email:


Formal prerequisite knowledge

General university entry requirements.

Recommended previous knowledge

The course presupposes a working knowledge of Buddhist Sanskrit as well as a good grasp of either Tibetan (for those wishing to learn Buddhist Chinese) or Chinese (for those wishing to learn the Tibetan). Students who seek to learn Buddhist Chinese should prepare for the course by learning to use a Chinese dictionary, for example, R. H. Mathews: "Chinese-English Dictionary". Those seeking to learn Tibetan should read M. Hahn: "Lehrbuch der klassischen tibetischen Schriftsprache" (Textbook of Classical Literary Tibetan).


The course consists of 15 weeks of instructions. Two seminars, lasting two hours each, will be held each week. Students are expected to prepare for these seminars at home. The first two seminars consist of an introduction to the basic elements of Chinese and Tibetan phonology. The remainder of the seminars are used to read trilingual texts.


Examinations will test the students' ability to explain trilingual texts: the particularities of translation and grammar as well as the interrelation between the Buddhist languages. The examination will last eight hours, and the candidate will answer a number of questions in writing. The result will be assessed using letter grades (A to F). The course constitutes the basis for work on the lexicographical internet project Thesaurus Literaturae Buddhicae, which will actively be employed throughout the course.


Students who are studying for a degree at UiO, may use this course as an element in the Programme for Studies of Ideas and Culture and the programme in Religious Studies. The course may also be relevant for students of the programme in Asian and African Studies.

Facts about this course




Last time offered autumn 2005.


Last time offered autumn 2005.

Teaching language