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Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia

BA Chinese (Modern and Classical) and...

Duration: 4 years


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • 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.

Subjects Preferred: 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 Chinese combined honours 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 combination with a solid grounding in another language or discipline.

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.


May be combined with

** Taught at King’s College London


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.

Two-subject degree students must take and pass a minimum of five units in Chinese, including all core units, over the course of their four-year programme, in addition to the units taken during the year abroad.  

Year 1
Core Chinese Units

All units are compulsory

1 Other Unit

The fourth course unit is taken in the other subject. Note: for most other subjects, this unit will also be considered as CORE, and this will be clearly stated on the web site or in the information provided by the other department. This means that for the majority of two-subject degree students, ALL FOUR Year 1 units are CORE and must be passed in order to proceed. For other students, where the unit for the other subject is not core, they must pass at least three units, including all core Chinese units, in order to be allowed to proceed to year 2.

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 Introduction to Classical Chinese (104) (CORE), as well as two units from the other subject.

Year 2: (Compulsory year in Beijing)

Please see the Teaching & Learning tab for more details on the year abroad.

Year 3

Two-subject degree students who passed all seven units of Chinese in Years 1 and 2 are required to pass one course from the following list in Year 3. Naturally they are welcome to take more courses, as long as this fits in with the requirements for the other half of their degree.

The following course can only be taken with a course from the list above:
Year 4

Two-subject degree students must take one more Chinese language course from the following list, or from the list in year 3. To take a course from the following list, it will normally be expected that they will have successfully passed at least one 300 level course. Exceptions to this rule are made at the discretion of the course convenor.

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Year abroad

Students spend their second year at Beijing Normal University, they offer the following courses;

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

Two-subject degree students must take four courses from the above, and the examinations are compulsory. Newspaper Reading, and Reading and Writing are compulsory. In order to proceed to Year 3, students must pass all four of the language courses taken at BNU. They must also pass the Sinological Research Project. Students wanting to take Chinese 304 in Year 3 must also take and pass Guwen this year. Students who fail more than one language course will fail the year. Students who fail one language course 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. Students who fail the Sinological Research Project 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).

Successful completion of the year abroad will result in students being credited with the equivalent of four units on their degree transcript. The year abroad will no longer count towards the final degree classification.

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,  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.

Choosing to study a joint degree programme will increase the breadth of your knowledge, and will develop additional skills with which to further your studies of China and the Inner Asian region, or to make comparative study with other areas.  Chinese may be combined with a huge range of other disciplines. For more information on the extra skills you will gain from your second subject, please see the relevant departmental page.

Recent graduates have found employment in the UK, Europe and East Asia. They work in management research, medicine, English language teaching, import/export, stockbrokerage, multinational corporations, NGOs, libraries, media, law, film production, galleries and museums and merchant banking. Others go on to postgraduate study.

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

Bellville Rodair International
China's Ethnic Groups Magazine
Chongqing Foreign Languages School
Department for Communities and Local Government
Emerge Poverty Free
Exclusive Analysis
Foreign & Commonwealth Office
Global Health Europe
Global Witness
Impact Investment Shujog
JET Programme
National Health Service
Standard Chartered Bank
Teach First
The Daily Telegraph
Ullens Centre for Contemporary Art

Types of roles that graduates have gone on to do include:

Project Coordinator
Management Accountant
English Teacher
Assistant Economist
Executive Editor
Science Communications Postdoctoral Fellow
Political Officer
Chinese Translator/ Researcher
Research Associate
Finance Manager
Business Manager
Proof Reader
Assistant Curator
Equity Capital Markets, Analyst

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