Undergraduate study | Chinese
Learn modern standard Chinese in the context of Chinese and East Asian history, literature, culture, politics and international relations - past and present.
Why study Chinese in Edinburgh?
One of the world’s earliest civilisations, China is once again a major economic and political global power; one whose scale makes an understanding of regional and cultural differences essential.
Specialising in teaching students with little or no prior knowledge of the language, Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer both single and joint honours undergraduate honours programmes in Chinese. You will learn to read, write and speak modern standard Chinese while exploring Chinese and East Asian history, literature, culture, politics and international relations, past and present.
You’ll be part of a friendly community of staff and students in Asian Studies, with its own Chinese Studies Peer Support Group, great links to the Confucius Institute for Scotland, and a regular seminar series featuring visiting speakers, all within a School passionate about languages, literatures and cultures from around the globe.
You’ll be based at the heart of the University of Edinburgh in a world-leading festival city with excellent links to China, a thriving East Asian cultural scene, and fantastic libraries, language learning facilities, and collections, including the EUL Chinese and East Asian Studies Collection of some 50,000 print and digital resources.
The programme at Edinburgh is unique in its structure because it allows you to not only study Chinese language with your peers, but also delve into China’s history, literature and film under the guidance of renowned lecturers. One of my favourite aspects of studying at Edinburgh is being able to connect with other students studying Chinese from across all four years; they are always willing and enthusiastic mentors.
- You’ll complete a four-year Master of Arts (MA) honours degree. You can take Chinese as a single honours degree, or jointly with one of a range of other subjects.
- As well as learning to read and write modern standard Chinese using both simplified and traditional form characters, most programmes involve learning to read classical Chinese and developing translation skills.
- In addition, you will have the opportunity to learn about China's modern and pre-modern history, its politics, society and culture, such as literature and film, and its place within East Asia.
Years 1 & 2
Our programmes are very flexible. In your first two years, you'll likely get to choose option courses from a wide range of subjects alongside Chinese and any partner subject. This may enable you to change the focus of your degree going into your final two (honours) years, which is when you start to specialise.
Years 3 & 4
- Your third year will typically spent in full, or in part, in either China or Taiwan. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefitted their broader life experience and skills, as well as their understanding of China and East Asia.
- You will learn how to undertake your own research to the level of completing a dissertation or long essay in your final year. This is your chance to focus on a topic, period or discipline that’s of particular interest to you. We have an extensive range of honours courses to choose from.
Learning, assessment and support
- The Chinese language is taught by qualified and experienced native and non-native speakers. Class size varies depending on the language skills being taught.
- Cultural courses (for example on history and literature) are taught through lectures, seminars and tutorials by research-active staff who are experts in their respective fields.
- You’ll be assessed through a combination of oral and written language exercises and tests, essays on cultural topics, and exams requiring both essays and short answers. On your Year Abroad, you will be assessed for language acquisition by your host university. You will also submit written assignments to us.
- There are lots of support systems to help you, from your Personal Tutor and our Student Support Office to our web-based hub, Support for Success in LLC.
- Our Chinese Studies Peer Support Group is a great learning resource, and the Students’ Association provides further scope to get involved in group learning, including through the Tandem Language Exchange Programme.
Learning Chinese has given me lots of opportunities, from working part-time as a translator, to competing in the UK semi-finals of the Chinese Bridge competition. Without studying Chinese, not only would I not have had these great opportunities, but I wouldn't have met so many wonderful friends from all around the world.
In the 2021-2022 academic year, you can take Chinese as a single honours degree, or study any of the following joint honours degree combinations...
|Chinese and French||Chinese and German||Chinese and Spanish|
|Chinese and Russian||Chinese and History||History of Art and Chinese Studies|
|Chinese and Linguistics||Chinese and Economics||International Business with Chinese*|
* Please note that this degree combination does not have the same structure as all the others, though it is still a four-year degree with a study abroad element.
Applications for 2021 entry are now closed. If you are holding an offer to start studying with us in September 2021, check out our Offer Holder Hub for Chinese.
Keen to get a head start for 2022?
There’s lots of information about our undergraduate Chinese programmes on the University of Edinburgh Degree Finder. For example, you can find out about entrance requirements, English language requirements, fees, and funding opportunities.
If you’d like to study on any of our undergraduate programmes, you must apply through UCAS, the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service. Applications for 2022 entry open in September 2021.
Skills and experience
Studying one or more languages to degree level demonstrates that you're a good communicator, a resilient problem solver, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.
Beyond the language skills you'll develop on our programmes, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year honours degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility, including the ability to understand, analyse and articulate key concepts, and to work to varied briefs to deadline, both independently and in groups.
Opportunities at home and away
Over one billion people worldwide speak Modern Standard Chinese and many countries, including Scotland, have strategic links with China. While increasing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, a powerful player in the global economy, you do not have to relocate to make the most out of your degree. Wherever you are in the world, the ability to understand and communicate in Chinese will make you stand out.
Our alumni can be found in every kind of career, especially those that place a premium on thinking that is both disciplined and imaginative. Within the private, public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors, previous graduates have gone on to career pathways in:
- Business and commerce
- Communications, marketing, advertising and public relations
- Education, outreach, advocacy and training
- Journalism, broadcasting and media
- Leisure, tourism and travel
- Politics, policy work, diplomacy, civil service and law
- Publishing, culture, heritage and the arts
- Research, development and venture acceleration
- Translating and interpreting
The enhanced research skills you will develop on a four-year programme, particularly in your honours years, are a valuable asset if you wish to continue studying at postgraduate level. At the University of Edinburgh, for example, you can study a Masters by Research degree in Chinese, or take an interdisciplinary taught Masters programme such as Comparative Literature, Intermediality, or Translation Studies.
I moved to China in 2008. Language skills were in high demand, and that demand has only grown since. My degree was very balanced between intensive study of Chinese history, literature, film and culture and hard language training, so I arrived not only able to communicate with ease, but, almost more critically, able to relate and connect with local people on a much deeper level.
Get to know us better
Thinking of joining us this year or next? Explore what it's like to study and live in Edinburgh.
- Take a Virtual Visit - Asian Studies (Chinese and Japanese)
- Look inside 50 George Square
- Join us for an Open Day or Online Information Session
Talk to a current student