SOAS University of London

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

MA Sinology (2018 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


The MA Sinology is designed to provide a training in advanced Chinese literature and documentary sources for those who already have a knowledge of Chinese (both classical and modern) to a level equivalent to that attained by the end of the 3rd year Chinese BA at SOAS.

This programme does not follow the major/minor pattern. Students must undertake a compulsory course together with two other optional courses.

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 are expected to have a degree of at least upper-second class level or equivalent and to have proved to our satisfaction that they have a competence in Chinese equivalent to at least the level reached by the end of our third year BA Chinese course. The degree is designed either as an end qualification in itself or to prepare the student for more advanced graduate work (MPhil/PhD).

Entry requirements

  • Minimum upper second class honours (or equivalent) in Chinese
  • Subjects Preferred: Chinese

Featured events

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


On this programme, students take 180 credits. 60 credits are allocated to a dissertation, 30 credits are allocated to a compulsory module, and the remaining 90 credits are from taught modules. 


Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in the Languages and Cultures of China and Inner Asia 15PCHC999 60 Full Year

Taught Component

Core Module

All students must take the following core module

Compulsory Modules

All students must take ONE of the following compulsory modules:

Guided Options

All students will take modules to the value of 60 credits from the list of modules below.

List of modules (subject to availability)

Please note: you can take  15PEAC006 Classical Documentary Texts or 15PEAC007 Modern Documentary Texts (if not taken as a compulsory module)

Module Code Credits Term
Practical Translation: Chinese to English 15PCHH004 15 Credits
New Taiwan Cinema and Beyond (PG) 15PCHH002 15 Term 1
Gender and Empire in Early Modern China 15PHIH024 15 Term 2
Connections and Intersections: Core Aspects of East Asian Studies 15PJKH025 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

  • To enhance practical skills and understanding of the basic literature and documentary sources which permit research in the broad field of Sinology. Research aids such as research guides, dictionaries, bibliographies, library catalogues, commentaries, concordances and digital sources are explored and studied, and skills in locating materials, dating texts, tracing pseudonyms, identifying and comparing official titles and responsibilities, and understanding the political, legal and social structures and their development through time will be fostered.
  • To obtain an understanding of the wealth of Chinese documentary sources, and to study representative genres in the classical corpus. Understanding of the content and research value of documents is stressed rather than their merit as literature. Different calligraphic scripts are introduced, and selections from the classics, diaries, gazetteers, legal texts, anecdotal writings, collected works, critical writings and other texts are read. Data and evidence are assessed critically, and problems of conflicting sources and interpretations are discussed.
  • To enhance students’ Chinese reading skills and take them beyond the level of word-for-word translation which typifies undergraduate reading modules; to increase students’ modern Chinese reading speed to an average of thirty pages per week; to introduce twentieth-century articles in Chinese which have had a major influence on Chinese history, society or culture; to familiarise students with secondary sources (scholarly articles and reference texts) in modern Chinese.
Intellectual (thinking) Skills
  • Students will learn to be precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence, and to understand through practice what documents can and cannot tell us.Students will develop an awareness of the interconnectedness of different texts and to develop a broader view when considering problems and to come up with a balanced opinion through utilizing a combination of different sources.
  • Students will learn to appreciate different viewpoints of a problem through critical writings.Students will learn to question interpretations, however authoritative, and reassess evidence for themselves.
Subject - based Practical Skills

The programme aims to help students with the following:

  • To improve their knowledge and usage of basic reference sources.
  • To gain an understanding of the research methods of sinologists.
  • To improve their reading ability of various styles of classical and modern Chinese.
  • To practise research techniques in specialised SOAS research library.
  • To improve their awareness of the content and research value of documents, and their knowledge of Chinese literature and culture.
Transferable Skills

The programme will encourage students to:

  • 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 that they will not have been exposed to as undergraduates.


A postgraduate degree in Sinology 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 training in advanced Chinese literature and documentary sources.

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.

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

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