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Culture of Tibet


Admission requirements



An introduction to the culture of Tibet, past and present. By highlighting five key figures of the ancient and recent history of the ‘Land of Snows’ important aspects of Tibetan culture will be concretized. Also themes such as art and material culture, pilgrimage, the position of women, and Tibetan medicine will be focused on. The course offers an analytical sketch of the traditional forms and modern shapes of Tibetan culture.

Themes of the lectures:

  1. Tibet: Introduction
  2. Landscape and History
  3. Tibet, Tibetans, and Tibetan Culture Today
  4. Art: Styles / Periods / Regions / Symbolism
  5. Architecture and the World of the Monastery
  6. The Greatest Yogi (Mila Repa, 1040-1123)
  7. Oral Literature and Culture: Bards, Weddings, and King Gesar
  8. The non-sectarian movement and universal ideas of Buddhism in Tibet
  9. Ideas of gender in Tibetan societies
  10. The Smiling Face of Tibet (14th Dalai Lama, born 1935)
  11. Sacred Sites, Pilgrimage and Sacral Geography
  12. The role of language in Tibetan culture

Course objectives

  • Fundamental knowledge of the historic and present-day developments in Tibetan culture.

  • Fundamental knowledge of the various forms of expression (literature, art and material culture, performing arts, folklore, etc.) of Tibetan culture.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

Attendance is not obligatory for lectures. The conveners do not need to be informed in case of missed classes. Information and knowledge provided in the lectures greatly contribute to the subsequent courses of the programme and their contents will be part of the examination. In order to pass the course, students are strongly advised to attend all sessions.

Assessment method


Mid-term paper and a final exam.


  • Mid-term paper (on a topic from a list provided at the beginning of the course): 30%

  • Final exam (open questions): 70%


Same type of examination as the final exam.

The course is an integrated whole. All categories must be completed in the same academic year. No partial marks can be carried over into following years

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

  • Kapstein, M.T. (2006). The Tibetans. Malden / Oxford / Carlton: Blackwell Publishing (series: The Peoples of Asia, Gen. Ed. M. Rossabi).

  • Lopez, D.S., jr. (1998). Prisoners of Shangri-La. Tibetan Buddhism and the West. Chicago-London: University of Chicago Press.


Enrolment through MyStudyMap is mandatory.
General information about course and exam enrolment is available on the website