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Festive image of Ganesh, the elephant-headed Hindu god of wisdom and learning
Faculties and schools_

Department of Indian Subcontinental Studies

The gateway to Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism
Exploring the intellectual, literary and artistic traditions that have shaped South Asian civilisation. We are one of only two universities to teach Sanskrit and Pali, languages that had a profound role in shaping Asia today.

Our study of the Indian Subcontinent moves beyond stereotypes and encourages a balanced, big-picture analysis of the region. We take pride in delivering sophisticated and insightful responses to critical issues in contemporary South Asia, including human rights issues, inter-religious tension, dowry and arranged marriages.

We offer studies in Sanskrit as well as non-language areas that explore traditional and modern cultures and religions (especially Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism). We also investigate the history, literature, politics and social structures of South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan) as well as Tibet and Central Asia. 

Our study offerings

Through the study of Sanskrit language, the most important classical language of the Indian subcontinent, you can explore the various intellectual, literary and artistic traditions that have shaped South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan), Central Asia, Southeast Asia and Tibet and played a profound role in forming Asia as a whole.  


*Available to all students studying the Bachelor of ArtsBachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Visual Arts, as well as all combined Bachelor of Advanced Studies  degrees.  

Our research

Our research areas include: 

  • The religious traditions of South Asia
  • Indian religion as manifest in other parts of Asia, particularly Buddhism in Central Asia, East Asia, and Southeast Asia
  • Method in the study of Indian and Buddhist thought
  • Early Buddhist literature, particularly of the ‘mainstream’ schools as preserved in Pali, Gandhari, Prakrit, Buddhist Sanskrit and Chinese
  • Recent discoveries of Buddhist manuscripts from Afghanistan and Pakistan
  • Buddhism in South and Southeast Asia, with a special interest in ancient Gandhara
  • Buddhist Sanskrit and the Middle Indo-Aryan languages, particularly Pali and Gandhari.

Our people

  •  Undergraduate, Honours, Postgraduate and Exchange Coordinator: Dr Jim Rheingans


Visit the School's Events calendar to see our full listing of upcoming events.

World Literatures and the Global South Conference

23–25 August 2019

Co-convened with the Peking University Australian Studies Centre and the World Literature Association, the School of Languages and Cultures is proud to host the third international congress of the World Literature Association.

This international conference will engage with literary production on and from the Global South in their own languages as well as in translation – giving equal billing to streams in English, Chinese, Arabic, French, Indonesian/Malay and Spanish.

Learn more

Department Chair

Dr Mark Allon



School of Languages and Cultures

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