2024 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Chinese

UCAS code: T100

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Chinese

Mandarin Chinese is the world's second most widely spoken language. Its associated cultures have helped shape the contemporary world in many ways.

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer an undergraduate single honours MA programme in Chinese. Our programme is also extremely flexible and includes the chance to take option courses from a wide range of disciplines.

As well as mainland China, our programme considers the significance of Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and their diasporas from a range of perspectives.

While we specialise in teaching students with little or no prior knowledge of the language, we can also accommodate students who already have some experience of studying Chinese.

Skills development

Study with us, and you will develop advanced competency in modern standard Chinese. You will gain the skills needed to use the language daily in social and professional settings, focusing on:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening

As well as learning to read both simplified and traditional form characters, you will also learn to read classical Chinese. This makes our programme unique.

As you progress, you will learn Chinese-English and English-Chinese translation skills.

From the very start of the programme, we will also equip you with the core academic and research skills you will need to make the most of your degree by developing your knowledge of Chinese studies and of China’s place in East Asia and globally.

Our courses explore:

  • history
  • literature
  • culture
  • politics
  • international relations

By your final year, you will have gained the skills to produce an independent research project.

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. - Uma, Year 4, Chinese MA (Hons)

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 at a university in mainland China or Taiwan. Through this immersive experience, you will further enhance your skills in Chinese and your understanding of the language in its particular cultural context.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you will choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subject of Chinese.

As well as broadening your education and skill set, this may enable you to change the focus of your programme in Years 3 and 4, your honours years.

Year 1

If you are a beginner, you will study Chinese 1, an introduction to modern spoken and written Chinese.

If you already have some knowledge of the Chinese language, you may qualify to enrol in Chinese 2A, an intermediate-level Chinese course.

You will study modern Chinese history, focussing on the key people, ideas and events which have helped shape the country's politics, society and culture.

You will also take a course in developing your academic skills in Asian Studies. Through interactive teaching and practical exercises, it will give you core study tools and strategies, helping you step up from secondary to university education.

Option courses

You will complete your Year 1 studies with option courses chosen from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh.

You can, for example, opt to study another language. We offer one of the widest range of languages of any UK university. The majority are suitable for complete beginners and include cultural study.

You can also opt to study Modern China in Literature and Film, developing insights into topics such as:

  • women’s emancipation
  • youth and age
  • sex and love
  • dissent and power

Other options include, but are not limited to, courses in:

  • linguistics and language sciences
  • business, economics and informatics
  • politics, social policy and social anthropology
  • art and architectural history
  • history, classics and archaeology
  • Celtic and Scottish ethnology
  • philosophy, divinity and law

Year 2

In your language classes, you will continue to learn modern Chinese and explore Chinese culture.

You will also begin to learn classical Chinese, and translation skills.

You will continue to develop your research skills from Year 1 and complete an independent project in Chinese studies.

When choosing option courses, you can opt to study classical and pre-modern East Asia. This will help develop your understanding of Chinese history and culture in preparation for your year abroad.

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, either in China or Taiwan, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Chinese and East Asian culture.

Besides developing your language and cross-cultural communication skills in an immersive environment, you will expand your research skills through assignments on a range of topics. These could include Chinese:

  • history
  • politics
  • contemporary society
  • literature
  • visual culture

Completing the assignments will help you to begin work on your dissertation. By the end of the year, you will have submitted a detailed dissertation proposal on a topic related to Chinese studies.

If international travel is not possible, you will be offered alternative ways of engaging with your studies. This will allow you to meet your learning outcomes and prepare for your final year.

Year 4

You will continue to study modern standard Chinese, focusing on advanced skills in speaking, listening, reading and writing. You will also build on your existing translation skills.

Alongside your language study, you will be able to choose from courses on Chinese:

  • film and literature
  • politics
  • modern and pre-modern history
  • contemporary society

You will continue to develop your Chinese studies dissertation project under formal supervision with an assigned supervisor. The dissertation will help you develop more advanced research skills and the final version will be submitted in the second semester.

Programme structure

Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.

To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

On campus

When you are on campus, you can expect to spend most of your time in the University of Edinburgh's Central Area - in class, in the library, or in one of the University’s many social and support spaces.

The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.

Libraries and collections

The Main University Library holds academic books, journals and databases, films, newspapers and other media.

The Library is also the home of the University's Centre for Research Collections which brings together:

  • more than 400,000 rare books
  • six kilometres of archives and manuscripts
  • thousands of works of art, historical musical instruments and other objects

The Centre's treasures include over 100 rare and pre-1900 Chinese and Japanese books including a commentary on the classic Chinese text Yi Jing (Book of Changes). Written by the scholar Hu Guang c. 1413, this was printed in 1440 using block printing and donated to the University in 1628.

More broadly, our Chinese and East Asian Studies Collection runs to over 50,000 resources, both print and digital, including upwards of 600 Chinese films.

Many of the University's Special Collections are digitised and available online from our excellent Resource Centre, computing labs and dedicated study spaces in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC).

Events and activities

The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially. There are also opportunities to pair up with native speakers for language exchange and practice.

Our Asian Studies seminar series features visiting speakers from around the world and will bring you closer to students of Japanese and Korean too.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections.

The city's resources for studying literatures, languages and cultures are exceptional, and its world cinema scene is particularly strong.

Many national collections are located close to the University's Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library, Galleries and Museum of Scotland.

The city has a thriving East Asian cultural scene and excellent links with China.

Study abroad

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) at a university in China or Taiwan.

This is your chance to immerse yourself in Chinese language and culture, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.

How will I learn?

University is a place to plan your own goals under expert guidance, study independently and in groups, and reflect upon your learning throughout your degree.

Our approach to learning and teaching is active, inclusive and question driven, so it may be different to your experiences at school. It will help you gain the skills for life after university, and we will guide you through the steps from one phase to the next.

Depending on the size of your year group, and which option courses you take, your classes will typically fall into three categories:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • seminars

In addition to these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

We make extensive use of our audio and visual resources, and you’ll also be encouraged to use online materials.

Lectures

Lectures are taken by all students on a course, typically at the same time. They are delivered as interactive presentations which may involve audio-visual material.

Lectures are given by an experienced academic. They are designed to guide you through the background, questions and debates related to the topic you are studying.

Tutorials

Tutorial groups are smaller. They are also led by an academic, but here the emphasis is more on what you think about the topic yourself. So, tutorials are your chance to discuss and expand upon what you have learned in a lecture.

Language tutorials give you the opportunity to develop your linguistic skills in a range of real-world tasks under the supervision of an experienced language teacher.

These classes typically cover skills such as reading, writing, listening and speaking – all of which involve learning and applying grammar.

Seminars

Seminars blend features of lectures and tutorials. Again, they are designed to encourage and enable your active participation in learning.

On some courses, you will have seminars instead of lectures, especially in your honours years (Years 3 and 4).

Support

As well as the teaching and other staff you will meet day-to-day, there are lots of ways to get help with your learning, including through the University’s Institute for Academic Development (IAD).

Additionally, the Students’ Association facilitates a peer support scheme for Chinese, bringing together students across year groups to help each other with specific study skills, topics or themes.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through a combination of coursework and exams.

Coursework is generally completed throughout the year, while exams take place at the end of a teaching block.

Coursework may take a range of forms to give you the opportunity to practice different skills. For example, you may be asked to:

  • write an essay, review, blog post, opinion piece or learning journal
  • respond to a piece of writing, film, or other media, including through close reading
  • give a short talk or presentation
  • record a podcast or video
  • design a poster or presentation

Exams will include oral exams to test your spoken language skills.

Depending on where you go and what you do on your Year Abroad, Year 3 may include being assessed, in part, by a host university.

In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.

Skills and experience

Studying a language to degree level demonstrates that you are a good communicator, and someone open to other cultures and new ideas – what employers value as Intercultural Competence.

Beyond the language skills you will develop on this programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of diverse cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows intellectual maturity, resilience, and flexibility.

The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include the ability to:

  • understand, analyse and articulate complex issues and concepts
  • manage your time to meet deadlines on different types of project
  • work independently and as part of a group

Opportunities across sectors

Our programmes are an excellent primer for a range of careers, 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 work in:

  • business, finance 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

Home and away

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates both at home and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in another major language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

If you are keen to work abroad, it’s good to know that over one billion people worldwide speak Modern Standard Chinese and many countries, including Scotland, have strategic links with China.

Increasing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, a powerful player in the global economy.

Further study

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, we typically offer a Masters by Research degree in Chinese. This programme is a good stepping stone to a PhD, but is equally of value as a stand-alone qualification.

Taught masters (MSc) programmes generally comprise a combination of core and optional courses taught by specialists in the field, training in research methods, and an independent dissertation or piece of creative work. Our interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically include:

  • East Asian Relations
  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies

Careers advice

Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills.

LLC has a dedicated Careers Consultant within the University's excellent Careers Service.

Through our careers service you can:

  • book one-to-one appointments and practice interviews
  • access a range of online resources
  • attend themed fairs such as the Creative and Cultural Careers Festival

Popular peer support includes Life After LLC, a panel event where you can draw inspiration from our recent graduates.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/ABBBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

Minimum entry requirement

The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:

  • SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: ABB.
  • IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:

  • SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: a language other than English at A and English at C.
  • A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: a language other than English at A or 7 and English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: a language other than English at 6 and English at 5.

Additional requirements

Native speakers

Please note that the Chinese degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.

Language requirement

For degrees that have a subject requirement of a language other than English, students may not use their own native language to meet this requirement. In these instances, English or an alternative language other than native will be acceptable.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant qualifications

Regardless of your nationality or country of residence, you must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies.

SQA, GCSE and IB

For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:

  • SQA National 5 at C
  • GCSE at C or 4
  • Level 2 Certificate at C
  • IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.

(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)

We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.

Unless you are a national of a majority English speaking country, your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start of the month in which the degree you are applying to study begins. If you are using an IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE test, it must be no more than two years old on the first of the month in which the degree begins, regardless of your nationality.

English language requirements

This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.

It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.

Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Chinese

Additional costs

As long as international restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs you have to pay will depend on where you decide to go and how you spend your time.

Some study placements at language schools may charge a fee, but we will normally refund you for tuition costs as long as your activity has been approved. You will be responsible for associated travel costs such as flights and visas.

Some scholarship money may be available from external sources, on a competitive basis, for students studying in China.

Funding

For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding