SOAS University of London

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

MA Chinese Studies (2018 entry)

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


The MA Chinese Studies provides an exceptional opportunity to take advantage of the wide range of disciplinary approaches to the study of Chinese societies available at SOAS.The main emphasis is on modern and contemporary China, although it is also possible to study aspects of pre-Modern China.In addition to the courses on offer, students develop their own particular area of specialisation by writing a dissertation in their major discipline.

When applying, applicants are asked to specify their preferred major subject, and asked to give an alternative as practical considerations such as time tabling and availability of courses may limit freedom of choice. Once enrolled, students have two weeks to finalise their choice of subjects and have the opportunity of sampling a variety of subjects through attending lectures etc.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Who is this programme for?: Students who take this degree come from many countries and have a wide variety of academic backgrounds. While some wish to broaden their previous studies or experience of China, others approach the course without having a Chinese element to their first degree, but with a desire to focus their previous training on the region.

Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent)

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time); Two or three years (part-time, daytime only)



Introducing Postgraduate Chinese Studies

Cosima Bruno

With the increase of economic, political and cultural links between China and Europe, SOAS’s range of China-related degrees seek to dispel some of the stereotypes, which still remain regarding the region, and to provide a comprehensive understanding of this dynamic country.  Dr Cosima Bruno, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, outlines the importance of the MA Chinese Studies course at SOAS University of London.

What does the programme involve?

We provide students at all language levels with a comprehensive training in the exceptionally rich list of China-related disciplines that we are able to offer at SOAS. Your study with us might cover topics ranging from literature, history, film, art, religion, politics, translation, law, and economics. This programme helps you gain a broad knowledge and insights into China.

What kind of students will the programme appeal to?

The MA programme Chinese Studies is particularly popular among students who want to study China with an interdisciplinary approach. They will specialise in a subject of Chinese studies of their choice, while at the same time also develop a critical understanding of the “bigger picture”, through the study of other China-related disciplines. The programme has special appeal for students who want to focus on modern and contemporary China, although it also offers the possibility of studying aspects of pre-modern China. There is no Chinese language requirement, therefore the programme is able to accommodate students from a wide variety of academic background and at any level of Chinese proficiency, from absolute beginners to fluent speakers.

What facilities are available?

SOAS offers strong interdisciplinary support for its students. We have a multimedia suite, a radio station and a satellite access to a wide range of world television. Further, the Library houses a major collection of digital and paper resources, with books and journals on China-related issues that scholars from all around the world travel to consult.

What is special about the programme at SOAS?

With more than 50 experts working on a wide range of disciplines across the School, this programme offers exceptional flexibility in designing a study plan that accommodates students’ interests.

Can you recommend a good book to read on MA Chinese Studies?

Chinese Studies by definition deals with a variety of subjects. The book series Contemporary Chinese Studies, edited by the University of British Columbia Press, provides some good examples of new scholarship on modern and contemporary China.

What do students do after graduating?

Students who graduate from this programme at SOAS have found careers in various sectors. Many have pursued further research at a doctoral level, becoming academics; others have been employed in areas of media, becoming journalists or cultural experts; others still have found career opportunities in the publishing industry, international relations, NGOs, multinational corporations, and tourism. 


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 180 credits. 60 credits are allocated to a dissertation, 30 credits are allocated to the core module(s) and the remaining 90 credits are from taught modules.  A maximum of 60 credits can be taken from one discipline and a minimum of three disciplines must be covered. For students opting to take two language acquisition modules, only one of these can be from an introductory level.

When applying, applicants are asked to specify their preferred major and minor subjects, and asked to give alternative choices as practical considerations such as time tabling and availability of modules may limit freedom of choice.

All modules are subject to availability.

Compulsory Dissertation
Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Chinese Studies 15PCHC998 60 Full Year
Core Module
Module Code Credits Term
Connections and Intersections: Core Aspects of East Asian Studies 15PJKH025 15 Term 1
Taught Component Options

Students choose modules to the value of 90 credits from the options below.

List C: Guided Options

Choose modules to a maximum value of 0 to 30 credits from List C or the central options list.

Module Code Credits Term
New Taiwan Cinema and Beyond (PG) 15PCHH002 15 Term 1
List B: Guided Options (East Asia)

Choose modules to a maximum value of 30 to 60 credits from List B.

Taiwan Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Culture and Society of Taiwan (PG) 15PCHH003 15 Term 1
Language modules
Module Code Credits Term
Chinese 1 A (PG) 15PCHH031 15 Term 1
Chinese 1 B (PG) 15PCHH032 15 Term 2
Chinese 2 (PG) 15PCHC011 30 Full Year
Chinese 3 (PG) 15PCHC009 30 Full Year
Chinese 4 (PG) 15PCHC012 30 Full Year
Chinese 5 (PG) 15PCHC020 15 Term 1
Chinese for Business (PG) 15PCHH027 15 Term 2
Practical Translation: Chinese to English 15PCHH004 15 Credits
Art and Archaeology
Module Code Credits Term
Arts of Modern and Contemporary China (since 1800) 15PARH055 15 Term 2
Themes in the Visual Arts of Dynastic China (before 1800) 15PARH051 15 Term 1
Chinese Porcelain: Trade, Transfer and Reception 15PARH064 15 Term 2
List B: Guided Options (East Asia)

Choose modules to a maximum value of 30 to 60 credits from List B.

Module Code Credits Term
Ceramics in Chinese Culture: 10th - 18th Centuries 15PARH046 15 Term 1
750B Ethnographic Locations: East Asia 15PANH062 15
Media and Film Studies
Politics and International Studies
Module Code Credits Term
Taiwan's Politics and Cross-Strait Relations 15PPOC252 30 Credits
State And Society In The Chinese Political Process 15PPOC012 30 Credits
China And International Politics 15PPOC018 30 Credits
List B: Guided Options (East Asia)

Choose modules to a maximum value of 30 to 60 credits from List B.

Module Code Credits Term
Northeast Asian Politics and Society: Japan, Korea and Taiwan 15PPOC253 30 Credits
PG Guided Options

Students can take 30 credits from the list below.

Module Code Credits Term
Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH014 15 Term 1
Module Code Credits Term
East Asian Buddhist Thought 15PSRH018 15 Term 2
Chinese Buddhism: History and Themes 15PSRH053 15 Term 1
The Great Tradition of Taoism 15PSRH036 15 Term 2
Module Code Credits Term
Gender and Empire in Early Modern China 15PHIH024 15 Term 2
Asian Wars : World War II and the End of Empire, 1942-1960 15PHIH038 0.5 unit
Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China 15PHIH022 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

Contact Hours

All Masters programmes consist of 180 credits, made up of taught modules of 30 or 15 credits, taught over 10 or 20 weeks, and a dissertation of 60 credits. The programme structure shows which modules are compulsory and which optional.

As a rough guide, 1 credit equals approximately 10 hours of work. Most of this will be independent study, including reading and research, preparing coursework, revising for examinations and so on. 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. At SOAS, most postgraduate modules have a one hour lecture and a one hour seminar every week, but this does vary.

More information is on the page for each module

Learning Outcomes


Student will acquire specialist knowledge on the following key areas:

  • How to assess data and evidence critically from manuscripts and digital sources, solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations, locate materials, use research sources (particularly research library catalogues) and other relevant traditional sources.
  • To obtain a theoretical grounding in one of the several disciplines offered as part of degree: Anthropology, art& archaeology ,economics ,history, law,literature,media,music,politics or religion& philosophy.
  • To obtain an empirical grounding of the disciplines cited above as they relate specifically to the study of China
  • To develop a critical understanding of other disciplines–in their theoretical and empirical dimensions–through Minor courses.
  • To acquire/develop skills in Chinese language at any of these levels:Basic1(absolute beginner),Basic2(beginner),Intermediate or Advanced.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
  • Critical evaluation of source material: students should become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what document scan and cannot tell us.
  • Critical evaluation of previous scholarship: students should question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
  • Critical attitude toward euro-centristic approaches: Students will acquire a sensitivity to non-euro-centric perspectives on a range of intellectual problems in the Anthropology, art &archaeology,economics,history,law,literature,media,music,politics or religion & philosophy of China.
Subject -based Practical Skills

Subject-specific skills will be in line with the requirements in the academic discipline in which students do their Major and the dissertation.

Practical skills include:

  • Communicate effectively in writing
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources
  • Present seminar papers
  • Listen critically to, and discuss, ideas introduced during seminars
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research libraries and institutes
Transferable Skills
  • Write good essays and dissertations.
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing.
  • Understand unconventional ideas.
  • Study a variety of written and digital materials, in libraries and research institutes of a kind they will not have used as undergraduates.


A postgraduate degree in China and Inner Asia studies from SOAS equips students with essential skills such as competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Familiarity with the region will have been developed through a combination of the study of language, literature, history, cinema, politics, economics or law.  

Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers in business, public and charity sectors.  They leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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 postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

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

Africa-Asia Confidential
Asia Society
China Central Academy of Fine Arts
CSR Asia
CTBI China Desk
Deloitte UKEMP
Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK
French Embassy in China
Fu Xin Contemporary Art Gallery
Government Offices of Sweden
Inter Committee of the Red cross ICRC
Linklaters LLP
Macmillan Cancer Support
Overseas Development Institute
Shelter UK
The Amity Foundation Hong Kong

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

Chartered Accountant
Global Learning Program Associate
News Editor
China Industry Specialist
Artistic Director
Foreign English Expert
Policy Officer Environment/Climate Change
English Teacher
Internal Auditor
Consultant/Account Manager
Expert on Media-Chinese language
Lecturer in Modern Chinese Culture and Language
Professional Speaker & Director
Assistant Professor

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

You might not be able to find a department dedicated to your major... However, because SOAS has many courses that are interdisciplinary, you also might be able to find courses of your interests. For example, for SOAS does not have a dedicated philosophy department, I, a philosophy major, looked for courses in other departments that cover philosophical discourses. My experience here of studying Buddhism and Taoism was highly inspiring.

Dong-Kyung Lee, Korea University

Find out more