Undergraduate study - 2023 entry
Open to the world

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 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.

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 the Chinese language. You will gain reading, writing, speaking, listening and translation skills in modern standard Chinese to an advanced level.

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. These skills will allow you to develop your own informed understandings of the broad field of Chinese studies and of China’s place in East Asia and globally. By your final year, you will have gained the skills to produce an independent research project.

You will 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.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 at a university in mainland China or Taiwan. This will provide you with an immersive cultural and language experience through which you can further enhance your Chinese skills and your understanding of the language in its particular 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

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 the skills development course, Academic Skills for Asian Studies.

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.

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 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.

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 and visual culture.

You will begin work on your dissertation and submit a detailed dissertation proposal on a topic related to Chinese studies.

In selected locations, there are opportunities for homestays with local families.

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 Chinese language, focusing on advanced skills in speaking, reading and writing. You will build 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 also 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 (2022/23)

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 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

Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. The centre brings together a collection of more than 400,000 rare books and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also houses the University’s collections of art, historical musical instruments and other objects.

The University'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.

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.

In the city

Edinburgh is a world-leading festival city filled with cinemas, theatres, galleries, libraries and collections, including the National Library, Museum, and Galleries 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.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

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, such as Chinese history or literature, are taught by experts in their respective fields through:

  • lectures
  • seminars
  • tutorials

How will I be assessed?

Over the course of your programme, you will be assessed using a combination of written exams, in-class exercises and coursework, including:

  • essays
  • reports
  • projects

Skills and experience

Studying a language 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 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

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 graduates 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

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, for example, we typically offer a Masters by Research degree in Chinese and taught MSc programmes in areas such as:

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

Careers advice

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.

Be inspired by our alumni

Standard entry requirement

The standard entry requirement is:

  • SQA Highers: AAAA-AABB by end of S5 or AAAA-AAAB by end of S6. BBB mus t 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.

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

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.

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 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.

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