MA Chinese and Russian Studies
UCAS code: BR37
Duration: 4 years
School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing MA Chinese and Russian Studies
This programme enables you to study the languages, literatures and cultures of two of the world's largest countries, both of whom play an important role in contemporary global politics.
Edinburgh is the only university in Scotland to offer both single and joint honours undergraduate programmes in Chinese. 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.
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 Russian language to an advanced level alongside studying Russian literature and culture and developing an awareness of political and historical context.
Both subjects will develop your skills in translation, reading, writing and oral communication, including through study abroad in either China or Taiwan and in a Russian-speaking country.
Employers recognise the importance of both languages and the benefits of a broad intercultural education. Our graduates are valued for their capability to act as bridges of understanding between Chinese, Russian and British cultures.
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 China in Literature and Film, and the skills development course, Academic Skills for Asian Studies.
If you have no previous knowledge of Russian you will take Russian Studies 1A, an intensive beginners Russian course.
If you have studied the language before, you will take the Russian Studies 1B course which provides advanced Russian language study.
Both courses include a unit on Russian culture.
(Revised 19 October 2022: removed reference to the opportunity to take a summer language course after completing Year 1.)
In your Year 2 Chinese language classes, you will continue to learn Chinese and explore Chinese culture.
You will begin to learn classical Chinese and modern Chinese translation skills.
In addition to developing your language skills, you will be taught a range of research skills and complete an independent project in Chinese studies.
You will continue to study Russian language, and will choose one of the following three courses:
- Transnational Russian Culture
- 19th century Russian literature
- 20th century Russian literature
If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your 30 weeks between either China or Taiwan and a country in which Russian is spoken.
You will typically spend at least eight weeks in each country, studying at a university or language centre.
During your year abroad, we will aim to ensure your experience is as beneficial as possible to your final year, as well as to your wider language learning, cultural awareness and skills development. For example, you will take an e-learning Russian course, which will count as part of your Year 3 mark and prepare you for your Year 4 Russian language courses.
If international travel is not possible, either in full or in part, you will be offered an alternative means of engaging with your subjects, enabling you to meet your learning outcomes and preparing you for your final year.
You will continue to study Chinese language, focusing on advanced skills in speaking, reading and writing, and building on your existing translation skills.
Alongside the Chinese language, you will be able to choose from courses on film, politics, modern and pre-modern history, literature, contemporary Chinese society and economic history.
You will develop advanced language skills in spoken and written Russian and choose a specialist course on Russian language, culture or literature.
You will complete a long essay in Russian.
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.
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 spaces.
The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.
Libraries, collections and centres
The first Chinese book acquired by the University was a copy of Chengtze's Essay on Yi Jing (or Book of Changes), printed in China from blocks in 1440. Today, our Chinese and East Asian Studies Collection runs to over 50,000 resources, both print and digital, including upwards of 600 Chinese films.
The Main University Library also holds academic books, journals and databases for the study of Russian, including around 14,400 titles in the Russian language. E-resources include access to Russian newspapers, TV and radio channels.
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 engage.
Our Chinese Studies Peer Support Group is a valuable social learning resource. There are also opportunities to pair up with native speakers for language exchange and practice.
We have great links to the Confucius Institute for Scotland, and a regular Asian Studies seminar series featuring visiting speakers from around the world.
Staff and student editors publish creative writing in nine European languages – including Russian – in the online magazine, Babble. Launch nights typically include readings and performances.
Our Princess Dashkova Russian Centre runs many academic and public events, including the Honorary Dashkova and Honorary John Erickson lectures.
In the city
Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including significant Russian holdings in the National Library of Scotland.
The city's world cinema scene is particularly strong. Its venues often screen films and hold events as part of the annual UK-wide Russian Film Week, for example.
Edinburgh also has a thriving East Asian cultural scene and excellent links with China.
If international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad, dividing your time between a country where Russian is spoken and either China or Taiwan. You will spend at least eight weeks in each country.
This is your chance to immerse yourself in East Asian and Russophone culture. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use after university.
How will I learn?
The Chinese and Russian languages are taught by qualified and experienced native and non-native speakers. Class size varies depending on the skills being taught.
Cultural courses, such as history, film or literature, are taught by experts in their respective fields through:
How will I be assessed?
Over the course of your programme, you will be assessed through a combination of written exams, in-class exercises and coursework, including:
Skills and experience
Studying languages to degree level demonstrates that you are 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 will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies, graduating with a four-year Master of Arts degree from the University of Edinburgh shows high-level intellectual strength and flexibility.
The skills you will be able to demonstrate to employers when you graduate include 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
Chinese and Russian are two of the most widely spoken languages in the world. Over one billion people speak Modern Standard Chinese, while around 150 million speak Russian. Russian is the official language of four countries and is widely understood throughout Eastern Europe. In the last thirty years, it has seen transnational mobility on an unprecedented scale. There are, for example, large communities of Russian-speakers in China, the United States, and the UK.
Growing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, but 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 two major global languages, and to understand the cultures to which they open doors, 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, 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
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, we typically offer Masters by Research degrees in both Chinese and Russian, and taught MSc programmes in:
- Comparative Literature
- Translation Studies
We have an excellent Careers Service. Throughout your time with us, we will encourage you to identify and hone your employability skills, including through peer initiatives such as Life After LLC (Literatures, Languages and Cultures) where you can draw inspiration from our graduates.
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAB - ABB.
- IB: 36 points with 665 at HL - 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.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: Cantonese or Mandarin at B. National 5s: English at C.
- A Levels: Chinese or Russian at B. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
- IB: HL: Chinese or Russian at 5. SL: English at 5.
Please note that the Chinese degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.
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
- SQA Standard Grade at 3
- 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.
We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.
English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
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.
As long as international travel restrictions allow, you will spend Year 3 abroad. The costs incurred 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 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.
Some scholarship money 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.
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