MA Chinese and History
UCAS code: TV11
Duration: 4 years
School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing MA Chinese and History
This joint honours programme reflects China's historical significance as one of the earliest civilisations, and its contemporary status as the world's second largest economy and growing political power.
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 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.
Work in history takes the form of interaction with evidence in primary form and through critical reading of a wide body of historical writing.
Beyond the knowledge of East Asian history you will gain by studying Chinese, you will develop a thorough understanding of the problems of historical interpretation as applied to different periods and places.
The Edinburgh experience is distinctive for its range of historical themes, chronological periods and geographical areas. You can choose from courses covering:
- the early Middle Ages to the most recent past
- Britain and Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas
Further, our courses offer a rich variety of approaches to the past, including:
- political history
- cultural history
- social history
- economic history
- intellectual history
- gender history
- global and transnational history
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.
History courses in Year 1 are broad survey courses that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.
Current courses range from the Middle Ages to the present. You will take one of these courses and also a compulsory course in historical skills that engages with broader questions about the nature of history as an academic discipline and the methods and skills required for historical research.
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.
As in Year 1, History courses offer broad surveys that are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.
Extending your range geographically and chronologically, these courses currently cover various periods and themes in American, European, British, Scottish and global history. You will choose one of them and also take a compulsory course on historiography.
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 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.
You will also undertake year abroad work for History.
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. 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 be able to choose from a wide range of specialist History courses.
You will 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.
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
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 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 Library also holds books, journals and databases for the study of History.
Events and activities
The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the History Society. EUSA 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 engage with Chinese and other cultures.
History students are assigned to Clans and 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 of Scotland and National Museum of Scotland.
From the winding streets of the medieval Old Town to the Georgian squares and terraces of the New Town, it is also a history lover's paradise.
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. It will allow you to develop broader life experience and skills that you can use 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.
History courses and cultural Chinese courses 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
Combining a language with history 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, research and analytical skills you will develop on this joint honours programme, and the nuanced understanding you will gain of other cultures and societies throughout history, 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.
Graduates who have studied a combination of language and history 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 MSc by Research degrees in both Chinese and History, and taught MSc programmes in areas such as:
- East Asian Relations
- Comparative Literature
- Translation Studies
- Contemporary History
- Medieval History
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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