The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies

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Home Events Academic Events Pali Summer School 2015

Pali Summer School 2015


See below for details on this year's Pali Summer School.  Bookings will open on 4th February.

The Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies offers its annual intensive Pali course this summer.  The dates for this year are 17th Aug to 29th Aug inclusive (students must arrive the night before, i.e. 16th).  Booking opens on 4th February and you can find details on how to book at the bottom of this page.

The following details come from Professor Gombrich:

Aim. At the end of the course you should be able, using the normal aids available, i.e. dictionaries, grammars and translations, slowly to read a Pali canonical text and understand it for yourself.

Is this really possible? I devised the course and have already given it many times with great success.  Pali can be learnt in twelve days because the aim is only to read it, not to write or speak it – though you do learn to pronounce it and recite a few chants.  There is also much less emphasis on memorisation than in a traditional course: why memorise things you can easily look up?

Who may attend? Anyone who is genuinely interested and prepared to work hard.  There are no academic prerequisites.  There are no exams, and no certificates are issued.

Method. Accordingly, the course is built on learning how to use the Pali-English Dictionary published by the Pali Text Society.  The course begins with learning Pali alphabetical order, and throughout the course each pupil is constantly using the Dictionary.  It is advisable to begin this before you arrive. Throughout tables of the main grammatical forms are supplied and, again, students constantly consult them for themselves, until they become familiar.

Students and teachers sit round a table together throughout the course.  Students are urged to keep asking questions, and to work in cooperation.

Organisation. On the first day students will introduce themselves, and then we shall survey the grammatical terms and principles you need to understand for the course.  Though anyone who has already studied Latin, Greek or Sanskrit will probably be familiar with much of this material, experience suggests that nothing is lost by asking everyone to attend.

The rest of the course is extremely intensive.  It is cumulative, so that to miss an early lesson is disastrous.  The one rigid rule is that no one may miss a class in the first week.  We shall work out the precise timetable when we meet; the general pattern will be that there will be classes each day from 9.30 to 5.30, with a long lunch break.  There will be homework every evening.  There will be no classes on Sunday – but there will be homework.

The course runs for 12 days.

Besides the Pali language, the course will discuss the Pali canon and many questions concerning the Buddha’s teaching and our evidence for it.

Practical Arrangements. The course will take place at the main (Headington) campus of Oxford Brookes University.  Students who do not live locally will be housed in single rooms in Clive Booth Hall (formerly Morrell Hall), which is less than ten minutes easy walk from the main campus:  I am afraid that there is no parking available.

There are cooking facilities at Clive Booth Hall, at no extra charge.  There are bar and cafeteria facilities, including breakfast, on the campus, except on Sundays, and we shall ourselves maintain a supply of tea and coffee in the lecture room.

Accommodation costs will be confirmed shortly.

My tuition and the course materials are provided free, but we have to pay for some teaching assistance, the lecture room and some admin expenses.

Course costs will be confirmed shortly.

Booking. Please apply to me, Richard Gombrich, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it from 4th February with a £150  deposit. Any applications received before this will not be taken into account. When applying, please supply full contact details, including telephone and postal address, and let me know your highest educational qualification. We shall also need to know whether you require accommodation. The deposit for people requiring accommodation will be £350. The closing date for applications is 30th July. However, since enrolment is restricted to 14, the course is usually fully booked long before the closing date.

Note: we would prefer the deposit paid by cheque. If this is not possible then please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it for further details.


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