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MA History of Art and Chinese Studies

UCAS code: TV13

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Edinburgh College of Art

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA History of Art and Chinese Studies

You will study History of Art and Chinese Studies in equal depth with this joint honours programme.

Our degree takes advantage of the University of Edinburgh's long-standing tradition of studying Asian literary and visual culture, and our wider expertise in art from different periods and places.

On this programme, you will learn to read, write and speak modern standard Chinese to an advanced level. No prior knowledge is required.

The programme benefits from a growing global market and interest in Asian art. It also takes in a full survey of art from around the world, from around the year 500 to the present.

Why Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with galleries, cinemas, theatres, libraries and collections. Its resources for studying art, languages and cultures are exceptional.

We are the only university in Scotland to offer both single and joint honours undergraduate honours programmes in Chinese. This means you can study:

  • modern standard Chinese in the context of Chinese history and culture
  • a broader survey of the History of Art, specialising in your honours years in the periods or topics that interest you most

You will spend Year 3 at a university in China or Taiwan. This will provide you with an immersive language experience and enable you to visit Asian artworks and cultural sites firsthand.

When you graduate, you will have the combination of broad cultural education and specialist knowledge valued by employers worldwide.

Year 1

In Year 1, you will study History of Art 1, covering the period from the fall of the Roman Empire until the end of the Counter-Reformation, including non-Western material.

You will also study the Chinese language:

  • 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 for Chinese 2A, an intermediate-level Chinese course.

You will complete your Year 1 studies with courses that explore modern East Asian history, or literature and film in modern China. This will enable you to:

  • learn about China's changing relationship with Japan and Korea
  • or, develop an understanding of 20th century China through two of its chief creative modes of expression

Year 2

You will study History of Art 2, which covers the 18th century to the present day.

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

When choosing further courses, you can opt to:

  • study pre-modern East Asian history, society and culture
  • develop your research skills by completing an independent research project in Chinese studies
  • learn classical Chinese and practise modern Chinese translation

Year 3

If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, either in China or Taiwan. You will turn 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.

For example, you will complete at least one independent project for History of Art. You can also opt to write the first part of your dissertation preparation for Chinese.

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

Year 4

You will choose from a wide range of specialist History of Art and architectural history courses.

You will also continue to study Chinese language, where you will focus on:

  • developing advanced skills in speaking, reading and writing
  • building on your existing translation skills

Alongside the Chinese language, you will be able to choose courses on Chinese and East Asian:

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

You will write a dissertation in either History of Art or Chinese.

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

History of Art teaching

Most History of Art teaching takes place in the University's Central Area or within Edinburgh College of Art (ECA).

You will be able to take advantage of Edinburgh's many galleries and museums. Several national collections are located close to ECA and the Central Area, making them easy to access between classes. Highlights include the National Library, Galleries and Museum of Scotland.

Chinese teaching

Chinese classes are held close to ECA and to the Main University Library. This means you will have easy access to the University's Chinese and East Asian Studies Collection which runs to over 50,000 resources, both print and digital, including upwards of 600 Chinese films.

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.

Our Chinese Studies Peer Support Group is a valuable social learning resource. Through the Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA), there are also opportunities to pair up with native speakers for language exchange and practice.

Take a virtual tour

You can take a closer look at Edinburgh College of Art and explore our facilities and campus on the University's Virtual Visit site.

Take a virtual tour of Edinburgh College of Art

Study abroad

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend at least 30 weeks at a university in China or Taiwan in Year 3.

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

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

You will be taught through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • individual supervisions
  • museum and gallery visits

Additionally, 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.

How will I be assessed?

You will be assessed through coursework and exams, including oral exams for Chinese.

In Years 3 and 4, you will complete:

  • at least one independent project in History of Art
  • a longer dissertation in either History of Art or Chinese Studies

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 Chinese, and to understand the cultures to which it opens doors, will make you stand out.

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

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

This particular degree benefits from a growing global market and interest in Asian art.

It prepares you for a range of careers in the art world, including:

  • curatorships in galleries and museums
  • art journalism
  • publishing
  • art dealing
  • tourism
  • graphics
  • advertising
  • heritage management
  • auctioneering

Throughout this degree programme, you will learn a range of research skills which are both necessary for further study and highly transferable to a range of careers.

Increasing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, a powerful player in the global economy. Other graduates use their skills and experience in the public, not-for-profit, and for-benefit sectors.

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAB by end of S5 or AAAA by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 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

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

International Foundation Programme

If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.

International Foundation Programme

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.


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 History of Art and Chinese Studies

Additional costs

You will pay for:

  • the cost of printing
  • any costs associated with travel to visit exhibitions, usually limited to £10 to £20 per visit

International travel restrictions permitting, you will spend September to July of Year 3 at a university in Taiwan or China. Theses costs will depend on where you decide to go, and how you spend your time.

Some study abroad destinations may charge a fee but we will normally reimburse 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.

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


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