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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

BA Chinese (Modern and Classical)

Programme Code: T100 BA/CHMC Duration: 4 years


2016 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB - ABB
  • A Level language preferred
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: No preliminary knowledge of the language is required but a foreign language at A-level or equivalent is preferred.

Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications usually invited

Who is this programme for?: The programme has flexible entry requirements for students with various levels of Chinese proficiency, from absolute beginners to GCSE and A-level Chinese. The department also offers elective courses in Chinese on various levels for students wishing to obtain or improve Chinese language skills in the context of other degree programmes.

The single subject BA Chinese degree aims to give a broad understanding of Chinese culture through study of its language, history and literature from earliest times up to the present.

In Years 3 and 4 students are offered a choice of units which enables them to weight their studies towards either the modern or the classical aspect, but it is our philosophy to produce rounded graduates who will have a competence in both.

The range of expertise in SOAS, not only in East Asian studies, but also with regard to languages and literatures of other regions is unique in UK institutions. Along with proven excellence in other disciplines, such as religious studies, anthropology, art and archaeology, and history, this offers students an unparalleled range of options in choosing their second subject of study.

HSBC Undergraduate Awards at SOAS: HSBC and SOAS have partnered together to provide two generous awards, beginning in the academic year 2016-17 for students studying the four-year BA Chinese (Modern & Classical) degree programme.

Email: languagesandcultures@soas.ac.uk


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

Year 1:

Core Units

Must be passed in order to proceed to the following year.

Compulsory unit
Advanced Entry Students

Students under advanced entry do not take Elementary Modern Chinese Language I (101) and Elementary Modern Chinese Language II (102), but take instead one unit of Modern Chinese (Special Course in Chinese III or higher) (CORE) and an open option unit.

Year 2: Year Abroad

Please see Year Abroad, Under the Teaching & Learning Tab for more information.

Year 3:

Students in this year take 4 units, with a minimum of 3 units from the approved syllabus.

Core Unit

Choose modules to the value of one unit from the following as your core unit. The other may be taken as an option. 301 and 302 modules can only be taken in Year 3.

Compulsory Unit
Optional Units

Choose modules to the value of one unit from this list or an approved open option.

Approved Option

Students can select one of these modules, which must be taken with a module from the list above, or an approved open option:

Advanced entry Students

Students under advanced entry take Chinese language modules at the appropriate level instead of Intermediate Modern Chinese Language I (301) and Intermediate Modern Chinese Language II (302). There are no core modules for those students.

Year 4:

Students take a minimum of three units in the department, including one compulsory unit. The fourth unit may be an approved open option in another department.

Compulsory Unit
Optional Units

Fourth-year students must take modules to the value of 2 units from the list below.

Programme Specification


Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Students spend the second year of their BA Chinese degree at Beijing Normal University (BNU).  Single subject degree students are required to take four of the following courses: 

  • Newspaper Reading (baokan 报刊) compulsory
  • Reading and Writing (duxie 读写) compulsory
  • Conversation (huihua 会话)
  • Listening (tingli 听力)
  • Classical Chinese (guwen 古文) compulsory

In order to proceed to Year 3, students must pass all four of the language courses taken at BNU as well as a Sinological Research Project which is submitted to their teachers at SOAS.  If a student fails one language course, they will be offered a re-entry test in September of the same academic year, to determine whether or not they can continue to Year 3.  A student who fails more than one language course will fail the year.  If a student fails the Sinological Research Project, they must re-sit by doing a new project on a new topic, without supervision. If the new project is handed in before September of the same academic year and is considered to be of sufficient quality, the student may be allowed to progress to Year 3 (if the performance on language courses has been satisfactory).

Students wanting to take Chinese 304 in Year 3 must also take and pass Guwen this year.


Teaching & Learning

Most units are taught in small classes. Modern language teaching involves classroom work and independent study. A few non-language units are taught by formal lecture. The single and combined degree courses are examined through oral and written examinations and coursework or reports.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.

Pre Entry Reading

  • Gernet, Jacques (transl. by J.R. Foster): A History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1982
  • Idema, Wilt and Lloyd Haft: A Guide to Chinese Literature. Ann Arbor: Center for Chinese Studies, University of Michigan, 1997
  • Norman, Jerry: Chinese. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1988
Further suggestions include:
  • Spence, Jonathan: The Search for Modern China. 2nd ed.; New York: W.W. Norton, 1999
  • Owen, Stephen: An Anthology of Chinese Literature: Beginnings to 1911. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company, 1996
  • Zhao, Henry (ed.): The Lost Boat. Avant-Garde Fiction from China. London: Wellsweep, 1993


As a graduate who specialised in China and Inner Asia, you will have gained competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a study of language in combination with literature, development studies, economics, geography, history, history of art and archaeology, Indonesian, Korean, law, linguistics, music, politics, social anthropology or religion.

Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail, analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources. A large number of graduates find work in which they are able to use their language skills, either in Britain or in East Asia. Recent graduates are currently located in China, Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, as well as in various countries of Europe. They work in a variety of sectors and some have gone on to do higher degrees and have found or are aiming for careers in academia.

Graduates have gone on to work for a range of organisations including:

Allen & Overy
Chimerica Media
China Consulting
China International Publishing Group
Consulate General of Switzerland, Shanghai
Enabling Environments Ltd
Fortuna International Ltd
Institute for Philanthropy
Modern Sky Records
Sino International Capital Group (SICG)
The Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs
JP Morgan
British Embassy Beijing
Marks & Spencer
Swiss Consulate
Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:
Copy Editor
Research Executive
Export Sales Manager
Programmes Assistant
Electronic Music Manager
Managing Director
Investment Banker
Researcher and Translator
For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

If I were to describe SOAS in one sentence it would say that you will hear at least six different languages on the same day while you casually walk through the corridors of the university.

Stephanie Koch