University of Sydney Handbooks - 2016 Archive

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The Department of Indian Sub-Continental Studies is part of the School of Languages and Culture (SLC).

About the major

The study of the Sanskrit language, the most important classical language of the Indian subcontinent, is the gateway for exploring the various intellectual, literary and artistic traditions - associated especially with Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism - that have shaped South Asian civilisation, and which have played a profound role in forming Asia as a whole. The Sanskrit major is designed to foster a sophisticated grasp of developments in religion, literature and philosophy throughout South Asia (India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bhutan), Central Asia, South East Asia and Tibet, as well as an understanding of the broader social and historical contexts in which these developments took place.

On completion of the major, you will find yourself well placed to adopt a critical yet self-aware and balanced ‘big-picture’ perspective upon South Asian society and culture (and more broadly, Asian society and culture). Your background in seeing South Asian civilisation as a whole by way of their exposure to formative Sanskrit texts such as the Mahābhārata, Rāmāyana and Bhagavad Gītā will enable you to see beyond stereotypes and media hype in forming sophisticated and insightful responses to critical issues in contemporary South Asia, such as human rights abuses, caste, inter-religious tension, dowry and arranged marriages.

Pathways through the major

A major in Sanskrit requires 36 senior credit points including at least 6 credit points at 3000 level.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Sanskrit. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You can find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

Junior units of study (1000 level)

In first year you complete SANS1001 Sanskrit Introductory 1 and SANS1002 Sanskrit Introductory 2 before enrolling in senior-intermediate units of study. Junior units introduce you to the discipline by way of learning the script, basic grammatical structures and principles and also basic vocabulary as well as developing an awareness of important key concepts and terms to provide you with the rudimentary tools to understand and contextualise South Asian civilisation.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)

You will complete several of the 2000 and 3000 level units by taking the equivalents unit offered by the ANU through cross-institutional enrolment. This includes SANS2601, SANS2602, SANS3601, and SANS3602. These units are taught through flexible delivery. You will be informed of this and of the process of cross-institutional enrolment with the ANU well in advance and will be guided through the process of cross-institutional enrolment.

You will complete SANS2612 Sanskrit Research Preparation 1 and SANS3612 Sanskrit Research Preparation 2 at the University of Sydney. In these units you are introduced to higher level research and inquiry through becoming methodologically aware of advances in the discipline, allowing you to further reconsider your own intellectual, cultural and ethical perspective. Students may also be exposed to the study of the Pali, Prakrit, and Gandhari languages in these units. These units are offered in second semester and alternate each year.

Non-language units

Although not part of the major, you are encouraged to take the following non-language units offered in the Asian Studies programs that are relevant to Sanskrit and South Asian Studies. These units of study do not contribute to the credit point requirement of a major in Sanskrit.

  • *ASNS2626 Religious Traditions of South Asia
  • *ASNS2623 India: Tradition into Modernity
  • ASNS2627 India, China, Tibet: Cultural Relations
  • ASNS2621 Buddhist Philosophy
  • ASNS2011 A Survey of Buddhism
  • ASNS2625 Buddhism in Modern Asia

*Units not available in 2016


Admission to honours requires completion of 48 senior credit points with an average of 70 percent or above, including completion of the major in Sanskrit plus two additional units of study chosen from the above units of study from Asian Studies.

Contact/further information

Department website:
Chair of Department and Undergraduate Coordinator: Dr Mark Allon