Undergraduate study - 2025 entry
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MA Chinese and Linguistics

UCAS code: TQ11

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Literatures, Languages and Cultures

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

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 developing your social scientific understanding of language.

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

Chinese

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 the 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 modern standard Chinese. You will gain the skills needed to use the language daily in social and professional settings, focusing on:

  • reading
  • writing
  • speaking
  • listening
  • translation

You will spend Year 3 using and honing these skills studying in China or Taiwan.

As well as language skills, you will also gain specialist knowledge on mainland China, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and associated diasporas in pre-modern, modern and contemporary contexts.

Our courses explore:

  • history
  • literature
  • culture
  • politics
  • international relations

You can also opt to learn to read Classical Chinese.

Linguistics

Linguistics examines how language works, describing how sounds, words, sentences and conversations combine to express and create meaning.

You will also 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 plan and test scientific hypotheses about linguistic phenomena using specialist linguistics and phonetics equipment.

One of the most attractive characteristics of this four-year programme is its flexibility.

In Years 1 and 2, your pre-honours years, you can choose option courses from a wide range of disciplines in addition to your core subjects of Chinese and Linguistics.

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

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.

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. You could, for example, opt to study another language. Most are available for complete beginners and include cultural study.

Linguistics

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

Year 2

Chinese

You will continue to learn Chinese language and explore Chinese culture.

Linguistics

You will take one course looking at linguistic theory and another looking at cross-linguistic variation.

Option courses

You will choose two courses from a wide range offered by the University.

You can opt to:

  • take at least one further course in language sciences
  • begin learning classical Chinese and modern Chinese translation
  • learn more about East Asian history, society and culture in preparation for your year abroad

Alternatively, you can opt to choose a course from a completely different discipline to broaden the scope of your study.

Year 3

You will spend Year 3 abroad, turning classroom learning into living engagement with Chinese and East Asian culture.

This is when you will really deepen your knowledge of Chinese by speaking it daily. Living abroad will also give you the wider perspective, experience and skills to embrace the opportunities and challenges of life after university.

Coursework while abroadYou will study at an institution of higher education in China or Taiwan. This immersive learning environment will strengthen your language and cross-cultural communication skills.

In addition, you will expand your research skills through assignments for us on a range of topics relating to modern and pre-modern China. You will develop your critical and analytical skills through close reading of selected texts and further your understanding of how to use primary and secondary sources.

You will also undertake a Year 3 project in language sciences, usually an essay on a relevant topic.

Keeping in touch

While you are studying abroad, 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 Linguistics and prepare you for your final year.

Year 4

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

Alongside your language study, you will be able to choose from honours-level courses on Chinese:

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

You will also take honours-level courses in linguistics and language sciences.

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, in the lab, 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 specialist equipment

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

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.

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.

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).

The University's 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 explore your subjects, interests and talents socially. EUSA also promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.

There are opportunities to pair up with native speakers of Chinese 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.

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 and excellent links with China.

Study abroad

You will spend Year 3 (a minimum of 30 weeks) at an institution of higher education 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.

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

From Year 2 onwards, you will do some independent practical work for linguistics.

In addition to classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.

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 facilitate 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.

Skills and experience

Combining the study of a language with linguistics 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 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 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 another major language, and to understand the cultures to which it opens 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 and many countries, including Scotland, have strategic links with China.

Increasing numbers of Chinese-speaking graduates are recruited by companies based in East Asia, a powerful player in the global economy.

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 Masters by Research degrees in both Chinese and Linguistics. These programmes are a good foundation for a PhD, but are equally of value as stand-alone qualifications.

Our portfolio of taught MSc programmes typically includes:

  • Comparative Literature
  • Intermediality
  • Translation Studies
  • East Asian Studies (with the option to specialise in Chinese studies)
  • Linguistics
  • Applied Linguistics
  • Developmental Linguistics

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: 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

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.

International Foundation Programme

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 Linguistics

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 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