Professor Sandagomi Coperahewa

BA (Colombo) MA ( Lancaster) MPhil (Peradeniya) PhD ( Cambridge)

Professor & Head / Department of Sinhala, University of Colombo

Tel. 0094112500453


Professor Sandagomi Coperahewa was educated at S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia where he won many prizes for his academic excellence. He entered the University of Colombo and read for a Special Degree in Sinhala and graduated with a BA First Class Honours in 1996. At the university also he ‘topped the batch’ at the final examination and won Niel Bandaranaike Prize and M. B. Ariyapala award for the best academic performance. Soon after the graduation, he was recruited as a temporary Assistant Lecturer and later as a Lecturer in Sinhala (1999) at the Department of Sinhala.

Attracted to modern linguistics, Coperahewa continued his research interest in language studies and obtained his MA (Distinction) in Language Studies from Lancaster University, UK under the auspices of a Commonwealth Scholarship.  After completing his MPhil in Sinhala at the University of Peradeniya, Coperahewa proceeded to the UK to complete his doctoral studies at the University of Cambridge under patronage of an ORS Award and Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholarship. He obtained his PhD in South Asian Studies from Cambridge in 2009 for the dissertation titled ‘The Politics of Language in Colonial Sri Lanka, 1900 – 1948’.

Returning to Colombo after his postgraduate studies, Coperahewa continued his task of teaching courses on Sinhala language and sociolinguistics at the Faculty of Arts. He introduced several course units to the department based on his postgraduate training in language and sociolinguistics. His main teaching areas are language and communication, sociolinguistics, modern Sinhala usage and academic writing. He was promoted to the post of Senior Lecturer in 2005 and Professor in 2013.

As an academic, Professor Coperahewa was instrumental in setting up new centres and study programmes for the University of Colombo. He was the Founder Director of the Centre for Contemporary Indian Studies (CCIS) a multidisciplinary research centre devoted to contemporary Indian Studies in Sri Lanka. As the founder Co-ordinator of MA in Sinhala he contributed towards introducing a new taught Masters programme in Sinhala. As an active teacher in the Faculty of Arts, Professor Coperahewa held many positions such as Student Counsellor, Senior Treasurer, Academic Warden and Activity Coordinator | IRQUE Project. In 2018, Coperahewa was appointed as the Chair of the Annual Research Symposium of the University of Colombo. He was appointed Head of the Department of Sinhala, University of Colombo in 2019.

Professor Coperahewa’s main research areas are modern Sinhala usage, sociology of Sinhala language, social history of Sinhala and language policy planning. He has authored twelve books and several scholarly articles related to Sinhala language, grammar, communication and language policy planning in Sri Lanka. As an expert on Sinhala Language, Professor Coperahewa provides consultancies to many government institutions on various issues related to Sinhala usage, grammar and language policy planning. Apart from his main research areas, Professor Coperahewa actively engages in various research and collaborative projects related to Rabindranath Tagore’s reception in Sri Lanka.

Educational Qualifications

  • PhD

    PhD in South Asian Studies, Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Title of the Dissertation: The Politics of Language in Colonial Sri Lanka, 1900-1948

    University of Cambridge, UK

  • MPhil

    MPhil in Sinhala, Department of Sinhalese, University of Peradeniya, Sri Lanka Title of the thesis: විසිවන සියවසේ සිංහල භාෂා ව්‍යවහාරය: සමාජවාග්විද්‍යාත්මක අධ්‍යයනයක් ( Sinhala Usage of the Twentieth Century: sociolingusitic study )

    University of Peradeniya

  • MA

    MA in Language Studies (Distinction) Department of Linguistics, Lancaster University, UK Title of the dissertation: “Language Policy and Planning in Sri Lanka: The Planning of Sinhala as an Official Language”.

    Lancaster University, UK

  • BA

    BA First Class Honours in Sinhala , Department of Sinhala, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

    University of Colombo

Professional Qualifications

  • 2002

    Accreditation as a Teacher in Higher Education

    Staff and Educational Development Association (SEDA) UK

  • 2002

    Certificate in Teaching in Higher Education (CTHE)

    Staff Development Centre: University of Colombo

  • Graduate Development Program, University of Cambridge, UK Courses attended:  How to develop Effective Communication Materials – Staff Development Course, University of Cambridge.  Writing for a Wider Audience – 25th February 2009, Graduate Development Course, University of Cambridge.  Writing Skills Summer School - 12- 15th August 2008, University of Cambridge.

    University of Cambridge, UK