Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

MA Chinese and German

UCAS code: BR32

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Chinese and German

On this joint honours programme, you will study two major languages in the context of the histories, literatures and societies of the countries in which they are spoken.

China is one of the world's oldest civilisations, while German-speaking cultures have long had a profound international influence.

In Europe, more people speak German as their first language than any other. The language ranks in the World's Top 20, being particularly important for business and politics.

Mandarin Chinese is the world's second most widely spoken language. It is your gateway to a major economic and political global power - one whose scale makes an understanding of regional and cultural differences essential.

Language learning in a cultural context

Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer both single and joint honours undergraduate programmes in Chinese. We specialise in teaching students with little or no prior knowledge of this language. Our programme is not for native speakers, but we also welcome students with some experience of studying Chinese and heritage language learners.

Study with us and you will develop advanced competency in the Chinese language. You will also gain specialist knowledge on mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and associated diasporas in pre-modern, modern and contemporary contexts. Courses explore history, literature, culture, politics and international relations.

Likewise, you will learn the German language to an advanced level while studying literature, film and theatre, all within the context of historical and political developments from the eighteenth century to contemporary times.

Immersive study includes a year abroad, spending time in either China or Taiwan and in a country where German is spoken.

By the end of the programme, you will be able to demonstrate a range of advanced language skills in both Chinese and German, together with the critical skills and cultural awareness valued by employers around the globe.

Year 1

Chinese

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.

In addition to your language learning, you will take a course that explores China's engagement with modernity through the study of the country's political, social and cultural history from 1600 to the present day, with a focus on its place in East Asia.

German

If you have not studied German before, you will take German 1A, an intensive language course.

If your entry qualification for German is a Scottish Higher, A level, or equivalent, you will take German 1B. This course covers language as well as literature and culture from 1770 to the present day. It also gives you the chance to interview a German-speaking professional working in Edinburgh or Glasgow. This will enable you to practise professional communication and gain insights into possible career options.

Read 'Conversation to career starter' - our feature on the German interview

Option course

You will complete your Year 1 studies with an option course chosen from a wide range offered by the University.

You can choose to find out more about East Asia, for example by taking a course on Japan, Korea and their relationship with China.

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

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

Year 2

Chinese

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.

German

You will further develop your oral language skills. You will also practise translation, grammar, and writing different types of texts in German.

You will continue to study German-language literature and culture, choosing at least two courses from a suite of options. These are likely to include:

  • Researching Disability in German Literature and Society
  • Screening Sex: Gender, Sexuality, and Identity on the German Screen and Beyond
  • Culture, Modernity and the City in the Weimar Republic
  • Reading Antisemitism in Modern German Literature
  • The Contemporary Short Story in German
  • Migration in German-Language Discourse
  • German Colonialism: History, Memory, Controversy

Option course

As in Year 1, you will complete your Year 2 studies with an option course chosen from a wide range offered by the University.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between two countries. This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of Chinese and German by speaking them daily and immersing yourself in local cultures.

Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

30 weeks to live your languages

You will spend a total of 30 weeks abroad. You will divide your time between China or Taiwan, and a country in which German is spoken.

To give you a balanced experience, you will spend at least eight weeks in each of your two destinations. How you further divide your 30 weeks is normally based on whether you study in both countries, or combine study for Chinese with work for German.

Where can I go?

Transforming classroom learning into living engagement with Chinese and East Asian culture, you will study at an institution of higher education in China or Taiwan.

For German, the University has exchange places at a range of universities in Germany and Austria.

A work placement for German is another great way to gain an international perspective, build professional networks and prepare you for your career after university. For example, you might find an internship or traineeship, arrange work with a private company or charity, volunteer, or gain experience as a teaching or language assistant through an organisation such as the British Council.

If you are considering working abroad for German, it is possible to do so in one of several countries in which the language is spoken. The first step is to start thinking about where you would like to go. Visa requirements and application processes vary between countries, so it is a good idea to find out what documentation you will need and whether you are eligible to get it.

Coursework while abroad

We will aim to ensure your experience abroad is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning and cultural awareness.

Regardless of whether you study or work abroad for German, you will take an e-learning course to prepare you for your Year 4 German language courses.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying or working abroad for credit, you are still a student at the University of Edinburgh.

The Year Abroad Office and your Student Adviser, both based in the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures (LLC), will check in with you at key points during your Year Abroad. Additionally, each language has a dedicated Year Abroad Coordinator for any academic queries, ensuring you are all set and ready for your final year in Edinburgh.

Just like any other time during your studies, you have access to all University services while you are abroad. These include our:

  • Student Wellbeing Service
  • Student Counselling
  • Student Disability and Learning Support
  • University emergency helpline (available 24 hours a day)

Wellbeing and safety

Your wellbeing and safety abroad is our first priority. If international travel is not possible or placements are disrupted, for example following travel advice from the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will offer you alternative ways to engage with your subjects. We will support you to meet your learning outcomes for Chinese and German and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

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

In addition to these core courses, you will be able to choose from specialist, honours-level courses on Chinese:

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

You will take German language classes in essay and précis writing, spoken German, and German-to-English translation of literary and journalistic texts.

You will also choose a specialist honours-level course from a wide range in German literature, film, theatre and society, and write a long essay in German.

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 (2024/25)

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.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Libraries, collections and centres

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

The Chinese and East Asian Studies Collection runs to over 50,000 resources, both print and digital, including upwards of 600 Chinese films. Holdings for German include around 95,000 books and 5,425 journals.

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.
  • the Karin McPherson Collection, a unique resource for students interested in the literature and culture of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Running to some 1,000 volumes, the Collection presents a complete overview of the GDR’s literary (and sometimes broader) culture from 1949 to 1989, including internationally renowned and lesser-known writers.

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, including the German Society. The Association also 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.

If you love to write, our online creative writing magazine Babble is the place to publish your:

  • prose
  • poetry
  • drama
  • non-fiction

Babble goes out twice a year and includes work written in German and eight other European languages. You can get involved in the editorial committee, and launch nights typically include readings and performances.

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 of Scotland
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • National Galleries of Scotland

The city has a thriving East Asian cultural scene. We have excellent links with the German Consulate, which is based in Edinburgh, and with the Goethe-Institut in Glasgow.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 abroad (a minimum of 30 weeks), studying in China or Taiwan, and either studying or working in a country where German is spoken. You will spend at least eight weeks in each destination.

This is a chance for you to evolve and grow beyond Edinburgh. Our graduates have told us how much the Year Abroad has benefited their broader life experience and skills.

We know that you are likely to have lots of questions about your Year Abroad. We’ve gone into lots of detail about where you can go and what you can do under ‘What you will study / Year 3’ above. You can also find out more through the University's Study and Work Away Service.

What are my options for going abroad?

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 will 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 Year 4.

Support

As well as the teaching staff and other staff members 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 long essay.

Skills and experience

Studying languages 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 joint honours 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 projects
  • 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

Local and global opportunities

With increasing migration in response to changing global dynamics, there is demand for our graduates in Scotland, the UK and abroad.

Wherever you are based in the world, the ability to communicate in these two major languages, and to understand the cultures to which they open 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. More people speak German as their first language than any other in Europe, where it is an official language of seven countries and provinces and is widely spoken elsewhere, particularly in central and eastern Europe.

Increasing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, a powerful player in the global economy. For example, China is Germany's largest trading partner.

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, we typically offer one-year Masters by Research degrees in both Chinese and German. Each of these programmes is a good foundation for 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 portfolio of interdisciplinary taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • East Asian Studies (with the option to specialise in Chinese studies)
  • 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.

Be inspired by our alumni

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: Cantonese, Mandarin or German at B. National 5s: English at C.
  • A Levels: Chinese or German at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
  • IB: HL: Chinese or German at 5. SL: 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.

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.We do not accept IELTS One Skill Retake to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 65 with at least 54 in each component. We do not accept 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

(*Revised 24 May 2024 to change PTE Academic requirement from total 62 with at least 54 in each component, and to clarify that we do not accept PTE Academic online.)

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 and German

Additional costs

As long as international travel is possible, 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