MA Chinese and Linguistics
UCAS code: TQ11
Duration: 4 years
School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing MA Chinese and Linguistics
As the world’s second most spoken language, Mandarin Chinese and its associated cultures have helped to shape the contemporary world in many ways.
This joint honours programme gives you the opportunity to study Chinese while exploring how language works.
Chinese and Linguistics make an excellent joint honours choice by combining the study of:
- a language in its cultural, historical and political context
- the expression and creation of meaning
Linguistics courses of particular relevance to language students cover:
- the speech sounds of the world's languages
- variation in the languages of the world
- the structure and history of world languages
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 gain reading, writing, speaking, listening and translation skills in modern standard Chinese to an advanced level. You will spend Year 3 using and honing these skills by studying in China or Taiwan.
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. You can also opt to learn to read Classical Chinese.
Linguistics examines how language works, describing how sounds, words, sentences and conversations combine to express and create meaning.
You will study:
- the uses of language in everyday life
- the ways in which language varies across society and evolves over time
- how language is mastered by children
As you progress through the programme, you will have the opportunity to formulate and test scientific hypotheses about linguistic phenomena using specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment.
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.
Besides Chinese language classes, you will also have an opportunity to take courses which cover modern East Asian history, or literature and film in modern China.
Alternatively, you can choose courses from a wide range offered by the University of Edinburgh. You could, for example, opt to study another language. Most are available for complete beginners and include cultural study.
You will take two semester-long introductory courses in linguistics.
Linguistics and English Language 1A offers a brief introduction to the study of language in general and of English in particular.
Linguistics and English Language 1B will help you develop the tools and knowledge needed to investigate the different subsystems of language in a systematic way.
You will continue to learn Chinese language and explore Chinese culture.
You will also have the opportunity to begin learning classical Chinese and modern Chinese translation, as well as to complete an independent project on a topic within Chinese studies.
You will take one course looking at linguistic theory and another concerning cross-linguistic variation.
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 also undertake work for your Year 3 project in language sciences.
If international travel is not possible, you will be offered alternative ways of engaging with your subjects. This will allow you to meet your learning outcomes and prepare 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 also study specialist language sciences courses.
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, in the lab, 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 specialist equipment
Based in the Main University Library, the Centre for Research Collections is unique in the UK. It brings together more than 400,000 rare books and six kilometres of archives and manuscripts. It also holds 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 circa 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.
Our specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment ranks among the best in the world. It includes:
- recording studios
- a perception experiment laboratory
- an eye tracking laboratory
Events and activities
The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including LingSoc - the Linguistics and English Language Society.
From acting to dancing, making friends in language cafes to campaigning on global issues, these student-led groups offer lots of ways to engage. EUSA also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.
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.
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 East Asian culture, and to develop your broader life experience and skills towards life after university.
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:
Teaching in linguistics involves lab sessions for some courses, as well as:
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
Combining the study of a language with linguistics 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 and linguistic 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
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
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 Linguistics. Our taught MSc programmes typically include:
- Comparative Literature
- Translation Studies
- Applied Linguistics
- Developmental Linguistics
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: 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.
Please note that the Chinese degrees involve beginners language study and are not suitable for native or near-native speakers.
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.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
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.
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 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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