Classical and Literary Chinese 1 (PG)

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
China and Inner Asia Section

Module overview

This module is an introduction to the grammar and basic vocabulary of Classical Chinese, the standard written language of China from around the seventh century BCE through the early twentieth century CE. The majority of this module will be based on reading, translating, and discussing philosophical, political, literary, and historical anecdotes from the Spring and Autumn (770-481 BCE) through the Han (206 BCE-220 CE) periods, as they served as the foundation for the language. We will conduct discussions of grammatical and philological issues primarily in English and most of our translation work will be from Classical Chinese into English.


155900829:  Chinese 2

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. read and understand beginner texts written in Classical and Literary Chinese
  2. demonstrate knowledge of basic Classical/Literary grammar and vocabulary
  3. demonstrate basic sinological skills necessary to read and translate Classical and Literary Chinese texts
  4. translate beginner texts written in Classical and Literary Chinese


Total taught hours: 20 hours. 2 hours of lecture per week for 10 weeks.

Independent study: 130 hours

Total hours for module: 150 hours

Scope and syllabus

The following is a representative syllabus and subject to change based on available teaching staff.

Week 1: Introduction to the module and Introduction to Classical Language
Week 2-5: Excerpts from pre-Han texts
Week 6: Reading Week
Weeks 7-10: Excerpts from pre-Han and Han texts

Method of assessment

Homework Assignment (30%)

Quizzes (20%)

Translation essay of 3500 words (50%)

Suggested reading

Core Readings

  • Paul Rouzer, A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese. Harvard 2007.
  • Edwin Pulleyblank, Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar. UBC 1997.
  • Wang Li. Gudai Hanyu (xiudingben). 4 vols. Zhonghua shuju 2000.
  • Wang Hongyuan. Hanzi ziyuan rumen. Huayu jiaoxue 1994.
  • Paul Kroll. A Student's Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese (revised edition). Brill 2017
  • Shadick/Ch'iao Chien. A First Course in Literary Chinese. 3vols. Cornell 1968.

Additional Readings

  • Yuan et al. Classical Chinese: Supplementary Selections from Philosophical Texts. Princeton 2006.
  • Yuan et al. Selections from Classical Chinese Historical Texts. Princeton 2005.
  • Yuan et al. Readings in Classical Chinese Poetry and Prose. Princeton 2006.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules