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 a 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 modern standard Chinese. You will gain the skills needed to use the language daily in social and professional settings, focusing on:
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:
- international relations
Work in history involves interaction with primary evidence and 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 experience of studying History at Edinburgh is unique because of the range of historical themes, chronological periods and geographical areas you will study. 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
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 have the 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 will emphasise processes and patterns within broad chronological and geographical frameworks. These are designed to prepare you for more specialised study in Years 3 and 4.
You will choose one history course and a compulsory course in historical skills. This course 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:
- submit a detailed dissertation proposal on a topic related to Chinese studies
- 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, and a wide range of specialist History courses, you will be able to choose from honours-level courses on:
- Chinese film and literature
- Chinese and East Asian politics
- modern and pre-modern East Asian history
- contemporary Chinese society and economic history
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.
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 and support spaces.
The Central Area is located on the edge of Edinburgh's historic Old Town, surrounded by lots of green space.
Libraries and collections
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).
Events and activities
The Edinburgh University Students' Association (EUSA) supports more than 300 student-led societies and clubs, including the History Society, and promotes opportunities with local charities through its volunteering centre.
These student-led groups offer lots of ways to explore your subjects, interests and talents socially. There are also opportunities to pair up with native Chinese speakers 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.
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.
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, Galleries and Museum of Scotland.
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?
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:
In addition to these classes, to get the most out of your courses, you will need to read widely.
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.
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 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 your honours years (Years 3 and 4).
As well as the teaching and other staff 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).
History students are assigned to Clans. 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.
In your final year, you will also complete a dissertation.
Skills and experience
Combining a language with history to degree level 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, 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 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 project
- 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
Home and away
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 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.
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, we typically offer MSc by Research degrees in both Chinese and History. These programmes are a good stepping stone to a PhD, but are equally of value as stand-alone qualifications.
We also typically offer taught MSc programmes in areas such as:
- East Asian Relations
- Comparative Literature
- Translation Studies
- Contemporary History
- Medieval History
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)
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 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 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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