SOAS University of London

Department of Politics and International Studies

MSc Contemporary China Studies (2018 entry)

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning


This 12-month programme combines high quality postgraduate social science research training with a comprehensive study of contemporary China.

The key features of this programme are: 
  1. interdisciplinary teaching;
  2. social scientific study of China;
  3. contemporary Chinese society, defined broadly as post-1949;
  4. research methodology training that is relevant to the study of China (part of the core module);
  5. a language option which provides maximum flexibility to students who would like to improve Chinese language skills.

The MSc in Contemporary China Studies attracts students with diverse backgrounds and study/work experiences. Students may come from undergraduate degrees in various social science subjects such as Economics, Sociology, Social Policy, Geography, Politics, International Relations, Management and Anthropology. Previous undergraduate coursework on China is not a compulsory requirement for admission. Applications will be considered from those who have worked in NGOs, civil service, or similar fields. As research methodology training is a compulsory part of the core module, the programme may also serve well as a channel to a research degree on China (MPhil or PhD).

Entry Requirements

SOAS has general minimum entrance requirements for registration for a postgraduate taught degree.

No additional requirements specific to the MSc Contemporary China Studies programme which can be taken with or without knowledge of a Chinese language.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

Featured events

One year



Students take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. Of the taught modules, students must take the core module Understanding Contemporary China - 15PCIC002 (30 credits) and a further 90 credits are chosen from a list of approved optional modules.

Students write a 10,000 word dissertation.


Students complete the Dissertation in Contemporary China Studies.

Taught Component

Compulsory Module

All students must take the following compulsory module

Guided Options

All students will take modules to the value of 90 credits from the list of modules below.

List of modules (subject to availability)

Module Code Credits Term
Connections and Intersections: Core Aspects of East Asian Studies 15PJKH025 15 Term 1
China And International Politics 15PPOC018 30 Credits
Culture and Society of Taiwan (PG) 15PCHH003 15 Term 1
International Politics of East Asia 15PPOC251 30 Credits
Media Spectacle and Urban Space in East Asia 15PMSH026 15 Term 2
Modern Chinese Film And Theatre 15PCHH001 15 Credits
Nationhood and Competing Identities in Modern China 15PHIH022 15 Term 1
Pop and Politics in East Asia (Masters) 15PMUH014 15 Term 1
Taiwan's Politics and Cross-Strait Relations 15PPOC252 30 Credits
State And Society In The Chinese Political Process 15PPOC012 30 Credits
Elementary Spoken Hokkien (Minnanyu, Taiwanese) (Postgraduate) 15PCHC007 30 Credits
Practical Translation: Chinese to English 15PCHH004 15 Credits
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


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

  • Students will be expected to grasp key themes and debates related to the study of contemporary Chinese society.
  • Students will be expected to grasp various social science research methods and strategies that are relevant to the study of contemporary China.
  • Students will develop an understanding of interdisciplinary research and its potential.
  • Students will acquire/develop skills in Chinese language at any of these levels: beginner, intermediate or advanced (optional).
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • Students will learn to become precise and cautious in their assessment of evidence and their encounters with knowledge, and will develop critical skills in reassessing evidence for themselves. 
  • Students will develop presentation skills as part of seminar and dissertation work.
  • Students will learn how to design a research project, set a timetable, understand the principles of fieldwork, and consider questions of ethics.
  • Students will learn how to gather, synthesise and assess large bodies of text and also how to represent such a body of knowledge in a synthetic and analytical manner.
Subject-based practical skills

Students will be expected to learn to:

  • Communicate effectively in writing, in academic English.
  • Retrieve, sift and select information from a variety of sources including print and other forms of mass media
  • Listen to, discuss and present ideas introduced during seminars.
  • Develop communication and interactive social group skills.
  • Practice research techniques in a variety of specialized research
libraries and institutes.
Transferrable skills

Students will be expected to learn to:

  • Plan, organise and write masters’ level essays and dissertations;
  • Structure and communicate ideas effectively both orally and in writing;
  • Work effectively both alone and as part of a discussion group;
  • Understand unconventional ideas;
  • Develop various IT skills relating to library research and to representation of material; and relating to the production of small research projects.
Learning Resources

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. The China and Inner Asia collection consists of approximately 200,000 volumes and 5,000 periodicals.

Find out more