Dermot Killingley studied Latin, Greek and Sanskrit in Merton College, Oxford from 1955 to 1959, and Middle Iranian languages in the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, from 1959 to 1961. He returned to SOAS in 1968 to study Indian philosophy. He taught in the Department of Indian Studies, University of Malaya, from 1961 to 1968, and in the Department of Religious Studies, Newcastle University, from 1970 to 2000, when he retired as Reader in Hindu Studies.
In 2008 Dermot Killingley taught in the University of Vienna as Visiting Professor. He is now joint editor (with Simon Brodbeck and Anna King) of Religions of South Asia (RoSA).