Accessibility Skip to Global Navigation Skip to Local Navigation Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Site Map Menu

RELS531 Pali for Postgraduates

Intensive Pali, reading both scriptures and commentaries from the Tipitaka. Particular attention is paid to grammatical and stylistic features and to the manner in which ideas are presented.

Paper title Pali for Postgraduates
Paper code RELS531
Subject Religious Studies
EFTS 0.25
Points 30 points
Teaching period(s) Full Year (Distance learning)
Full Year (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $2,162.75
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

^ Top of page

Limited to

Dr Elizabeth Guthrie-Higbee:

Teaching staff

Lecturer: Dr Elizabeth Guthrie-Higbee

Paper Structure

The paper will begin with a comprehensive review of Pali grammar, and will proceed by reading Pali texts of progressively increasing difficulty beginning with narratives from the Suttapiṭaka and Vinayapiṭaka and progressing to more complex texts from Pali philosophical and commentarial literature.

The first semester will consist of the following grammar and reading classes, using Warder’s Grammar and Wallis’s Reader.

  1. First, sixth and seventh conjugations, present tense, aorist, past participles, imperatives, pronouns, masculine nouns in a, nominative, accusative and vocative cases (Warder pp.10-43)
  2. Gerunds, present participle, passive, causative and third conjugation, future tense, genitive, ablative and dative case, further uses of instrumental case, past participles in na, neuter and feminine nouns in ā tappurisa compounds (Warder, pp.44-95)
  3. Second and fifth conjugation, dvanda, kammadhāraya and bahubbīhi compounds, locative case, declension of masculine and neuter nouns in a,i, in and u, feminine nouns in ā, i, ī, u and ū and pronouns, reflexive or possessive pronouns, negative prefixes, auxiliary verbs (Warder, pp. 96-167)
  4. Fourth conjugation, “middle”, denominative, and intensive conjugation, derivation, abstract nouns, secondary nouns (including adjectives), avyayībhāva and digu compounds, sentences and clauses, relative clauses, complex sentences, order, verse and archaic forms, metre (Warder, pp 168-370)
  5. Sakuṇagghisuttaṃ and Cūḷamālukyasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 26-51)
  6. Tevijjasuttaṃ and Kesamuttisuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 52-127)
  7. Sabbasuttaṃ and Pheṇapiṇḍūpamasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp.128-44)
  8. Anattalakkhaṇasuttaṃ and Bhārasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp.146-62)
  9. Dhammacakkappavattanasuttaṃ and Gotamasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 164-93)
  10. Parāyanasuttaṃ and Nibbutasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 194-203)
  11. Saṅkhatalakkhaṇasuttaṃ, Asaṅkhatalakkhaṇasuttaṃ and Ānāpānasatisuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 204-35)
  12. Satipaṭṭhānasuttaṃ (Wallis, pp. 236-271)

In the second semester, further texts will be read. These will be taken from the readers listed in the course texts or directly from versions of the Pali Tipiṭaka available online (e.g., the Sri Lanka Tripitaka Project, or Sutta Cental The texts will be chosen to reflect the students’ interests and may include extra-canonical texts, such as chronicles or jātakas.

Teaching Arrangements

The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.


To be advised

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the paper will be able to:

  • Demonstrate understanding of a wide range of Pali grammatical forms, and of Pali syntax
  • Demonstrate knowledge of essential Pali vocabulary
  • Read Pali in both Roman script and one other script traditionally used for writing or publishing Pali
  • Attempt the translation of unseen Pali texts
  • Translate prepared Pali texts
  • Demonstrate an understanding of Pali philology and its application in Buddhist Studies
  • Discuss the content, history and transmission of Pali texts
  • Demonstrate an awareness of some of the processes involved in editing
  • Provide a piece of sustained translation and study of Pali text

^ Top of page


Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught through Distance Learning
Learning management system

Full Year

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
L1 Friday 14:00-15:50 9-13, 16-22, 28-34, 36-41