SOAS University of London

China & Inner Asia Section, Department of East Asian Languages & Cultures

BA Chinese (2020 entry)

  • Q&A
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


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 modules 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.

Programme Code: T100 BA/CHMC

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

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 modules in Chinese on various levels for students wishing to obtain or improve Chinese language skills in the context of other degree programmes.


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
A Levels:
A Level language preferred
35 (6/6/5)

View alternative entry requirements


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

Featured events

4 years



Introducing undergraduate Chinese programmes 

Dr Rosella Ferrari is Reader in Chinese and Theatre Studies at SOAS University of London and convenor of the BA Chinese (Modern and Classical), BA Chinese Studies, and BA Chinese and… programmes. 

How did you first get interested in China and Chinese language?

I studied languages in high school and I was interested in Asian philosophies, but growing up in a relatively small place (and before the internet!) I was not even aware that one could pursue a degree in Asian languages and cultures. I only found out by chance that the University of Venice offered such a degree, so I applied to study Chinese language and literature there.

What is your particular area of research?

I specialise in the performance cultures of the Sinophone region. Most of my work so far has dealt with the experimental theatres of mainland China and Hong Kong and, to a lesser extent, Taiwan and Singapore. I am especially interested in the relationship between performance and politics, practices of transnational and intercultural collaboration, and interactions between the performance communities of the Chinese-speaking world and other Asian cultures. 

What is special about the BA Chinese Studies programme? What kind of students will it appeal to?

Our department offers three BA degrees in Chinese. BA Chinese (Modern and Classical), a 4-year single honours degree that includes a year abroad in China in year 2; BA Chinese and..., a 4-year joint degree that also includes a year abroad in China in year 2, and BA Chinese Studies. All our degrees can cater to students with different levels of language proficiency, from ab initio to intermediate and advanced - for example, those who come to SOAS with A Levels in Chinese. We also offer various modules on classical and literary Chinese, Hokkien (Taiwanese), Cantonese, and Tibetan. 

What is special about BA Chinese Studies is its flexibility. It does not require students to go on the year abroad and can be completed in 3 years. It will therefore appeal to students who, for any reason, are unable, or do not wish, to spend a year away from the UK, as well as those who would rather complete their degree before going to China to pursue further studies or career opportunities. The language curriculum in this degree is not as intensive as in the 4-year single-honours degree, and the structure is flexible, so that students can choose from a range of modules in both the humanities and the social sciences, including cultural and literary studies, media, film and theatre studies, anthropology, music, history, study of religions, art and archaeology, politics, economics, and law. Our students are also what makes our programmes special; year after year, they never fail to take the top prizes in national and international competitions, such as the Chinese Bridge. 

What advice would you give to a student considering Chinese Studies? 

To be curious and open-minded and to be prepared to work hard, but also to be surprised. Chinese is not an easy language to learn, but it is an incredibly fascinating one. Students will be amazed at the advanced level of proficiency in reading, speaking, listening, and writing that they can achieve with a degree at SOAS.


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.

Students take a total of 120 credits each year.

In year 1, students normally take 60 credits of language, 45 credits of culture/history modules and 15 credits of academic writing.

In year 2, students take a further 30 credits of modern language and are introduced to classical and literary Chinese, and further modules of culture/history.

In year 3, for 2020 students will remain at SOAS taking modern and classical Chinese and further culture/history modules. From 2021 students in year 3 will spend the year abroad in Beijing.

In year 4, students take a minimum of 90 credits from the department, which includes a compulsory Independent Study Project.

Year 1

Core Module

This module must be passed in order to proceed to the following year.

Module Code Credits Term
Ch 100: Elementary Chinese 155901440 60 Full Year

*Lifeboat Option: If a student is struggling with Ch100, they will move to Chinese 1B (155906023) in the 2nd semeseter & write an extended essay (155901421), then move to the BA East Asian Studies Programme

Compulsory Modules:

Students must take the modules below

Module Code Credits Term
China in Ten Words: Key Concepts in Chinese Studies 155901461 15 Term 2
Reading and Writing East Asian Studies 155901439 15 Term 1
East Asian Civilizations 155901464 30 Full Year
Year 2

Core Module

This module must be passed in order to proceed to the following year.

Module Code Credits Term
Ch 200 Intermediate Chinese 155901467 30 Full Year
Compulsory Modules

Students must take the modules below

Module Code Credits Term
Contemporary Chinese Society 155901478 15 Term 1
East Asian Imperialisms 155901481 15 Term 2
Classical and Literary Chinese 1 155901456 15 Term 2

Guided Option

Choose a module from List A (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) below to the value of 15 credits


Guided Options

Choose modules from List A /List B or Central options (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) to the value of 30 credits

Year 3

*Year 3 (from 20/21) Year Abroad: For more information on the year abroad in China, please see the Teaching & Learning tab.

Core Module

This module must be passed in order to progress to the following year of study

Compulsory Module

Students will take the module below

Guided Options

Choose modules from List A (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) below to the value of 30 credits


Choose modules from List A/List B or Central options (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) to the value of 30 credits

Year 4

Compulsory Modules

Students will take the following modules:

Module Code Credits Term
History and Memory in East Asian Cultures 155903015 15 Term 2
Independent Study Project in East Asian Studies 155901483 30 Full Year

Guided Options

Choose modules from List A (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) below to the value of 30 credits


Choose modules from List A/List B or Central options (at the relevant FHEQ level for your academic year of study) to the value of 30 credits

Year 2 - List A Guided option modules

FHEQ Level 5

Module Code Credits Term
Myths, Legends and Folkways of East Asia 155901460 15 Term 1
Gender in East Asian Literature (UG) 155901482 15 Term 2
East Asian Cinema (UG) 155901475 15 Term 1
Fieldwork methods in language and culture 155901417 15 Term 2
Year 4 - List A Guided Option Modules

FHEQ Level 6

Module Code Credits Term
Modern Chinese Literary Texts 155903013 15 Term 1
Chinese for Business 155903010 15 Term 2
New Taiwan Cinema and Beyond 155903011 15 Term 1
Year 2/Year 4 List B Language Modules

FHEQ Level 5

Module Code Credits Term
Japanese 1 A 155906026 15 Term 1
Japanese 1 B 155906027 15 Term 2
Japanese 2 155900875 30 Full Year
Korean 1 A 155906028 15 Term 1
Korean 1 B 155906029 15 Term 2
Korean 2 155901404 30 Full Year
Tibetan (Modern) 1 A 155906024 15 Term 1
Tibetan (Modern) 1 B 155906025 15 Term 2
FHEQ Level 6
Module Code Credits Term
K200 Intermediate Korean 155901472 30 Full Year
Korean 3 155900843 30 Full Year
Japanese 3 155901345 30 Full Year
Japanese 4 155901346 30 Full Year
Year 4 - List B Guided Option Modules

FHEQ Level 5/6

Module Code Credits Term
Identity and social relations in Japanese 155901418 15 Term 1
Culture and Society of Taiwan 155903020 15 Term 1
Japanese Traditional Drama 155901422 15 Term 1
Culture and Society in Traditional Korea 155901431 15 Term 1
The Other Korea: North Korea since 1945 155901356 15 Term 2
Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature and Film 155901390 15 Term 1

Programme Specification

Important notice

The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.

Teaching and 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 the following modules: 

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

In order to proceed to Year 3, students must pass all four of the language modules taken at BNU.  If a student fails one language module, 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 module will fail the year.

Teaching & Learning

Contact Hours

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, in modules of 60, 45, 30 or 15 credits. They are taught over 10 or 20 weeks. The programme structure shows which modules are taught over one term or the full year. It also shows which modules are compulsory and which are optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study (see Approaches to teaching and learning at SOAS). It will also include class time, which may include lectures, seminars and other classes. Some subjects, such as learning a language, have more class time than others.

More information is on the page for each module.

Most modules are taught in small classes. Modern language teaching involves classroom work and independent study. A few non-language modules are taught by formal lecture. The single and combined degree modules 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

You will establish and hone key analytical skills, amass a broad and in-depth knowledge of your chosen field and, from day one, befriend students from around the globe.

David Whittaker

Find out more