SOAS University of London

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

BA Chinese (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Overview and entry requirements

The BA Chinese single subject degree provides students with the highest level of competence in all aspects of the written and spoken language, as well as an in-depth understanding of both classical and modern Chinese culture, from the study of pre-modern Chinese language and history to modern literature and cinema.

Students on the BA Chinese will spend the third year of study in China furthering language proficiency and understanding of the local cultural environment. The Chinese BA programme is suitable for both absolute beginners as well as those with some knowledge of the Chinese language.

HSBC and SOAS partnered to provide two generous awards (HSBC Undergraduate Awards at SOAS) for students studying the four-year BA Chinese (Modern and Classical) degree programme.

See China and Inner Asia Department

Why study Chinese at SOAS

  • UK Top 10 in the 2021 QS World University Rankings for Modern Languages
  • SOAS is home to the largest concentration of Chinese specialists outside of China
  • Chinese is a language spoken by a quarter of the world’s population; your command of a language will set you apart from graduates of other universities
  • spend your third year in China furthering language and cultural proficiency
  • learn not only the essential language skills but also an in-depth understanding of the region’s culture covering subjects (such as literature, history, cinema, etc.)
  • flexibly structure your programme using our central options modules to take advantage of the expertise of our other departments


Follow us:

Programme Code: T100 BA/CHMC

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time


Entry requirements

  • No preliminary knowledge of the language is required but a foreign language at GCSE or A-level or equivalent is preferred.
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications are usually invited to an interview
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




Students take a total of 120 credits each year.

  • Year 1: students normally take 60 credits of language, 45 credits of culture/history modules and 15 credits of academic writing.
  • 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.
  • Year 3: students spend the year abroad in Beijing, at Beijing Normal University (BNU).
  • 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.

Year 4

Compulsory Modules

Students will take the following modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Ch 400: Advanced Chinese 155901468 15 Term 1
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
Extended Essay in East Asian Studies 155900854 15 Term 2
Year 4 - List A Guided Option Modules

FHEQ Level 6

Module Code Credits Term
Ch 401: Chinese-English Translation 155901469 15 Term 2
Chinese for Business 155903010 15 Term 2
Ch 305: Elementary Cantonese 155901228 30 Full Year
Literature, Politics and National Identity in Modern China 155903017 15 Term 1
New Taiwan Cinema and Beyond 155903011 15 Term 1
Chinese Cinema (UG) 155901474 15 Term 2
Classical and Literary Chinese 2 155901457 15 Term 2
Culture and Society of Taiwan 155903020 15 Term 1
Modern Chinese Literary Texts 155903013 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
FHEQ Level 6
Module Code Credits Term
Korean 3 155900843 30 Full Year
Korean 4 155901486 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
Japanese Cinema (UG) 155901476 15 Term 2
Korean Cinema (UG) 155901477 15 Term 1
Trajectories of Modernity in Korean Literature and Film 155901390 15 Term 1
Modernity, Nation and Identity in Japanese History (1853-1945) 155900882 15 Term 2
The Other Korea: North Korea since 1945 155901356 15 Term 2
Japanese Traditional Drama 155901422 15 Term 1
Culture and Society in Traditional Korea 155901431 15 Term 1
Identity and social relations in Japanese 155901418 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

Teaching & Learning

All full-time undergraduate programmes consist of 120 credits per year, in modules of 60, 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.

Contact hours

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.

Year abroad

Students spend the third 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)

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 readings

  • Ebrey, Patricia: The Cambridge Illustrated History of Chinese Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1996/2010.
  • Mair, Victor H.: The Columbia History of Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.
  • Shei, Chris: Understanding the Chinese Language. London and New York: Routledge, 2014.

Further suggestions

  • Goldman, Merle, Leo Ou-Fan Lee (eds.): An Intellectual History of Modern China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002.
  • Hong Zicheng: A History of Contemporary Chinese Literature. Leiden: Brill, 2007.
  • Lau, Joseph S. M., Howard Goldblatt (eds.): The Columbia Anthology of Modern Chinese Literature. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.
  • Lovell, Julia: The Great Wall: China Against the World. 1000 BC - AD 2000. New York: Grove Press, 2006.
  • Minford, John, Joseph S. M. Lau (eds.): Classical Chinese Literature: An Anthology of Translations. New York: Columbia University Press, 2000.



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.

Skills gained

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
  • 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, BBC, Chimerica Media, China Consulting, China International Publishing Group, Consulate General of Switzerland, Shanghai, Enabling Environments Ltd, Fortuna International Ltd, China Consulting, 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:

  • Consultant
  • Copy Editor
  • Research Executive
  • Export Sales Manager
  • Translator
  • Programmes Assistant
  • Electronic Music Manager
  • Managing Director
  • Actor
  • Analyst
  • Investment Banker
  • Researcher and Translator

Find out more on our Careers Service website

A Student's Perspective

One of the most memorable things I did outside of SOAS was to sign up for a homestay – it’s free through SOAS, it’s just for the weekend, and it gives you a taste of English life outside of London.

Nancy Wang, Williams College

Find out more