[skip to content]

Diploma & Certificate in Modern Chinese, Part-time

A SOAS-accredited course

Mode of Attendance: Part Time


The Diploma in Modern Chinese programme is designed to prepare students with no previous knowledge of Chinese to live and work in a Chinese-speaking environment. Students will learn both written and spoken modern standard Chinese. The Diploma programme is a SOAS accredited course.

The Part-Time Certificate and Diploma programme is designed to suit professionals who wish to obtain a high level of proficiency in modern Chinese and a recognised qualification while they continue to work.

By the end of the course, students will be able to communicate effectively in Chinese in a wide range of situations and be able to read and write Chinese with ease. They should have a good command of the language used in everyday and survival situations, social conversations, current affairs and work related situations.

The course will help you to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing in a balanced way. The course has a flexible entry structure so students with prior knowledge of and skills in the language can also join the course at different stages based on an assessment of their levels. So if you are not a complete beginner, you will need to contact SOAS Language Centre for an assessment before your application can be processed.

How long are the terms?

The Part-time Diploma course lasts 3 years in total and consists of two stages. Stage one is the Certificate and stage two is the Diploma. Each year of the course runs for three terms from January to December. The whole course runs for 9 terms over three years with a total of 510 hours of instruction. Students are expected to spend at least 5 hours on self-study a week and regularly use our virtual learning environment (VLE) support system.

The Certificate stage of the course comprises a total of 320 hours of instruction. It runs over two years; each year it will run for 10 weeks for the first two terms and 12 weeks for the third term. Students who successfully complete the Certificate course will be awarded the Certificate in Modern Chinese and are qualified to join the Diploma level course, which runs for 12 weeks for the first two terms and 14 weeks for the final term. Students who successfully complete the course (a total of 190 hours of instruction) will be awarded the Diploma in Modern Chinese.

Can I take just one year without registering for the Certificate/Diploma?

Yes. Some students take the course for individual terms without formally registering to take the Certificate/Diploma. However, since accreditation for prior study can often be given, all students are encouraged to register for either the Certificate or the Diploma.

How are the classes structured?

Classes run for 5 hours a week on a part-time basis. In addition to the classroom contact hours, some individual sessions will be available by appointment with designated teachers and additional materials will be provided through our virtual learning environment (VLE) support system.

Classes are held twice a week: from 6.30pm till 8.30pm on one weekday evening plus 12.30pm till 3.30pm on Saturdays. The course is continually under review so we reserve the right to make necessary adjustments to the course structure.

What will I be able to do by the end of the Certificate course (Years I & II)?

By the end of the Certificate course students will be able to:


  • Communicate on a fair range of topics in everyday social conversation.
  • Express personal opinions and have simple discussions on a range of topics.
  • Give a short presentation on a prepared topic.


  • Understand clear, standard speech in everyday situations.
  • Obtain information and extract details on a range of everyday topics.
  • Understand the main points of simple visual and audio materials.


  • Will have studied approximately 1200 Chinese characters.
  • Have a reading speed of familiar text of around 100 characters per minute.
  • Understand simple, selected, authentic text on familiar topics.


  • Write short notes and compositions on a limited range of topics.

What will I be able to do by the Diploma course (year III)?

By the end of the Diploma course students will be able to:


  • Communicate effectively on a wide range of topics.
  • Express ideas and opinions, and carry out discussions on a wide range of social and current-affair topics.
  • Give a logical and well-structured speech on prepared topics.


  • Understand clear standard speech on matters regularly encountered in work, study and leisure.
  • Obtain general information and specific details from the mass media on a broad range of topics.


  • Will have studied approximately 2000 characters.
  • Have a reading speed of around 180-200 characters per minute.
  • Read simple,authentic texts and understand the gist of newspaper articles on current affairs topics.


  • Write simple reports, social letters and routine work-related correspondence.
  • Describe events and convey own ideas and opinions in written form.

How does this course compare with other recognised standards?

Approximate equivalents with other recognised standards are given below for reference only:

Common European Framework:

  • End of Stage 1 (Certificate) is the equivalent of level B1
  • End of Stage 2 (Diploma) is the equivalent of level B2

Languages Lead Body National Language Standards

  • End of Stage One (Certificate) is the equivalent of NVQ level 3
  • End of Stage Two (Diploma) is the equivalent of NVQ level 4

Who teaches the classes?

SOAS Language Centre has a staff of over twenty trained and experienced native-speaker teachers of Chinese. The course is run by a coordinator and under the academic supervision of a senior member of the Department of China and Inner Asia. The end of term examinations are supervised and approved by the Academic Director and External Examiner.

Course assessment

Students are assessed through a combination of termly written and oral examinations and continuous assessment. Students have to achieve 40% to pass. The term grade consists of Continuous Assessment (30%) and end-of-Year examination (70%).

Continuous assessment will be based on marked homework and tests, both written and oral. The end-of-term and the end-of-course exams will comprise oral, listening and written parts.

Other academic activities

Students will have the opportunity to attend relevant seminars and lectures available in the School such as those organised by the Department of the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia, and the London Confucius Institute.


Certificate and Diploma

Part time per year fee: 

  • Year 1 - £3450
  • Year 2 - £3450
  • Year 3 - £4095


In addition to multimedia materials and a variety of authentic materials supplied by the teachers, and made available on our VLE, the course is based on a number of textbooks such as:

  • Chinese in Steps series; GX Zhang et al; 2005, 2006, 2007, Cypress Books (UK) Ltd
  • Colloquial Chinese, PC T'ung and DE Pollard, 1982, SOAS
  • A Trip to China, CP Chou and DL Chao, 1996, Princeton University Press


Dates for the 2013 - 2014 session:
  • Term1: Monday 7th October 2013 to Friday 13th December 2013
  • Term 2: Monday 13th January 2014 to Friday 21st March 2014
  • Term 3: Monday 28th April 2014 to Friday 4th July 2014

Applying for the course

To apply for a Language Centre Certificate/Diploma course you can download our application and payment forms, above right. Or contact us for the forms. Read the terms and conditions. Completed application forms, accompanied by the course fee, made payable to SOAS, should be returned to SOAS Language Centre.

We suggest you read the course description above and our terms and conditions before filling in the form. Admittance to the course is subject to interview, which includes an assessment of language level in the case of non-beginners.

Email: chinese@soas.ac.uk