Chinese Studies MA (joint degree) 2024 entry

The information on this page is for 2024 entry. If you are considering applying for 2025 entry or later, some of these details may differ and we advise you to check the page again before you apply. To receive a notification of when applications open for 2025 entry, please register your interest.

Chinese Studies at St Andrews will offer you exposure to the breadth and depth of Chinese linguistic and cultural practices. Going beyond the traditional model of language and literature, Chinese Studies will also include visual and popular cultures.

Whilst St Andrews does not yet offer Chinese as a single Honours degree, you can take it in combination with a wide variety of other subjects as part of a joint Honours degree. 

The course encompasses mainstream, popular and dissident cultures in all their national, regional, ethnic and diasporic diversity. The study of texts and practices will be focused on contemporary concerns that are both Chinese and global. These include:

  • gender and sexuality
  • ecology and climate change
  • the excesses of advanced consumer society
  • issues of transparency, governance and collective memory.

Start date
September 2024
End date
June 2028
Four years full time
Department of Chinese Studies
“The mix of lectures and tutorials allows an active conversation to ensure I’m learning as much as possible. Especially in Chinese, with 6 contact hours a week, the teaching style is directly focused on learning all aspects of Chinese language and culture. ”
Smiling girl
- Clayton, Panama

Entry requirements

The University offers different entry requirements, depending on your background. Find out more about Standard, Minimum and Gateway entry requirements using academic entry explained and see which entry requirements you need to look at using the entry requirements indicator.

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes, please see our entry requirements for more information.

For degrees combining more than one subject, the subject with the higher entry requirements determines the grades you need. You will also need to meet any further subject-specific entry requirements as outlined on their pages.

  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
    Gateway entry grades:
    Applicants who have narrowly missed the minimum entry grades, but meet the University's contextual criteria, may be interested in one of the University’s Gateway programmes.
  • Standard entry grades:
    Minimum entry grades:
  • Standard entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,6,5)
    Minimum entry grades:
    36 (HL 6,5,5)

General entry requirements

All applicants must have attained the following qualifications, or equivalent, in addition to the specific entry requirements for individual programmes.

  • SQA National 5 (B) in English and one SQA National 5 (B) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing science
    • Geography
    • Lifeskills Mathematics (A grade)
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.
  • GCSE (5) in English language or English literature, and one GCSE (5) from the following:

    • Biology
    • Chemistry
    • Computing Science
    • Geography
    • Mathematics
    • Physics
    • Psychology.

Other qualifications

We accept a wide range of qualifications for entry on to our programmes. Please see our entry requirements for more information.

More information on how to apply via other entry routes or accreditation of prior learning and experience can be found on the University’s entry requirements web page.

Alternative study options

Integrated year abroad

Students may choose to spend an additional year working or studying in a Chinese-speaking country. Find out about more about the integrated year abroad for this course.

Study abroad

Students studying Chinese can apply to participate in the University-wide St Andrews Abroad programme. You may also have the opportunity to participate in the School Abroad exchange programme. For information about study abroad options, please see the study abroad website

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

No prior knowledge of Chinese is necessary. Modules are not designed for native speakers.

Course details

The Chinese portion of the four-year joint Honours degree is run by the School of Modern Languages. 

Your time at St Andrews will focus on the linguistic and cultural entity that is China and the Chinese-speaking world today. Chinese Studies at St Andrews will offer you exposure to the breadth and depth of Chinese cultural practices. Looking beyond a model of language and literature, Chinese Studies will also include visual and popular cultures.

Your first two years focus on enabling you to read, write and converse in Chinese. The Chinese language is unlike other languages in that it is not written as a series of letters. Rather it uses a non-alphabetic script known as characters. It is also a tonal language, but the grammar is straightforward. So, studying Chinese can be challenging, but also highly rewarding.

Alongside Chinese, in the first year of your studies, you will be required to study an additional two subjects. In the second year, you will usually carry on at least one of these subjects, sometimes two. Find out more about how academic years are organised.

You will have the opportunity to take an integrated year abroad between second and third year in a country where Chinese is spoken. 

In third and fourth years, you will be able to take modules based on Chinese literature and visual culture, in their historical and political contexts.

This will involve looking at mainstream, popular and dissident cultures, in all their national, regional, ethnic and diasporic diversity. The study of texts and cultural practices will be focused on the contemporary concerns that are at once both Chinese and global.

Graduates in modern languages from St Andrews can expect to have not only a high level of competence in language skills, but a highly developed appreciation for other cultures and peoples. Other transferable skills, including analysis, synthesis and communication skills will prepare you for a career in almost any industry.

The University of St Andrews operates on a flexible modular degree system by which degrees are obtained through the accumulation of credits. More information on the structure of the modules system can be found on the flexible degree structure web page.


In the first two years of your degree (known as sub-honours), you will take the required modules in Chinese Studies along with modules from your chosen joint subject.

Typically, you will take one Chinese Studies module per semester in first and second year. You will take at least two Chinese modules per semester during your third and fourth year (known as Honours).

Find out more about the modular Scottish degree system.

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their first year:


  • Beginners Chinese Language 1: provides a grounding in Chinese grammar and cultural history. You will learn to speak the language with accurate pronunciation and tones, as well as recognise and reproduce 300 characters and 600 words. This module is designed for those with no background in Chinese. 

  • Beginners Chinese Language 2: building on 'Beginners Chinese Language 1', you will practise speaking the language, increase your understanding of tone, and follow lectures on cultural history. You will learn to recognise and reproduce 600 characters and 1,000 words. 


  • Chinese Language and Textual Practices 1: develop your existing communicative and written competence in Chinese language and broaden your knowledge of China’s cultural history. You will learn to become accurate in your use of the spoken language and focus on acquiring a solid ability in reading and writing traditional characters. To take this module, applicants must have recently obtained one of the following qualifications in Chinese language: Scottish Advanced Highers, A-Level, Cambridge Pre-U, IB, or have an equivalent level of prior Chinese language study. 
  • Chinese Language and Textual Practices 2: this follows on from Chinese Language and Textual Practice 1, is intended for students with prior learning, and allows you to further develop your communicative and written competence in Chinese, and broaden your knowledge of China’s cultural history.  

Students are required to take the following compulsory modules in their second year: 


  • Intermediate Chinese Language 1: you will continue to acquire Chinese characters (900 characters and 2,000 words) while studying more complex texts and enhancing your spoken language skills. Cultural history will be broached by studying literary and visual texts.  
  •  Intermediate Chinese Language 2:you will continue to acquire Chinese characters (1,200 characters and 3,000 words) while studying more complex texts and enhancing your spoken language skills. Cultural history will be broached by studying literary and visual texts.   


  • Chinese Language and Textual Practices 3: you will broaden your vocabulary, and focus on consolidating existing and new grammar points and on building familiarity with the strongly idiomatic nature of the Chinese language.   In addition, the student will commence a Second Chinese Language  EITHER Cantonese OR Hokkien. You will thus explore a not so commonly taught, yet widely used variety of the Chinese language, (Cantonese - Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macau and the Chinese diaspora; Hokkien - Fujian, Taiwan and the Chinese diaspora).   
  • Chinese Language and Textual Practices 4: you will continue to broaden your vocabulary and focus on consolidating existing and new grammar points and on building familiarity with the strongly idiomatic nature of the Chinese language.  In addition, you will continue to acquire the Second Chinese Language you started in the previous semester.  

If you take Chinese Studies in your third and fourth years, you must take the following compulsory modules:

  • Chinese Language, Texts and Cultural Practices 1: you will study more complex texts and be able to recognise and have working knowledge of 1,800 to 2,300 characters.
  • Chinese Language, Texts and Cultural Practices 2: you will study more complex texts and be able to recognise and have a working knowledge of 2,300 to 2,600 characters. 
  • Chinese Language, Texts and Cultural Practices 3: you will be able to speak, read and write at a high level, use 2,900 to 3,300 characters and comprehend academic texts. 
  • Chinese Language, Texts and Cultural Practices 4: you will be able to speak, read and write at a high level, use 3,200 to 3,600 characters and understand sophisticated academic texts.

You will also choose from a variety of advanced options which incorporate literary, historical and cultural studies into language learning. Modules at Honours level which may be offered include (but are not limited to):

  • Contemporary Chinese Culture - 1989 to the present day
  • Creating China 1: Nation, Modernization, Contestation
  • Creating China 2: Revolution, Opening-up, Clamping-down
  • Hong Kong in Art and Visual Culture: Creativity and Contestation
  • Pearl River Cultures: Guangzhou-Hong Kong-Macau
  • Politics and Propaganda in Modern China
  • The Art of 20th Century China
  • The Reception and Reinvention of the Past in Modern China
  • Visualizing Sinophone Culture

In their fourth year, students also have the option of undertaking a dissertation of 5,000 or 10,000 words on a topic of their choice, supervised by a specialist member of staff. This independent project enables you to develop key research skills which are desired by both prospective employers and by graduate schools offering postgraduate degrees.

The compulsory modules listed here must be taken in order to graduate in this subject. However, most students at St Andrews take additional modules, either in their primary subject or from other subjects they are interested in. For Honours level, students choose from a range of Honours modules, some of which are listed above. A full list of all modules appropriate to the programme for the current academic year can be found in the programme requirements.


All modern language modules involve a combination of lectures, tutorials and practical languages classes. Lectures provide information, stimulate thought, and suggest directions for further reading and personal study. Small tutorials allow you to actively work together with your tutors and your peers to practise language skills, present papers, and discuss texts and issues relevant to the course.

When not attending lectures, tutorials and language classes, you will be expected to continue learning independently through self-study. Typically, this will involve:

  • working on individual and group projects
  • undertaking research in the library
  • preparing coursework assignments and presentations
  • preparing for examinations.

Many of the modules in Chinese are assessed by a combination of coursework (40%) and end-of-semester examinations (60%). Some Honours modules are assessed by 100% coursework.

Coursework may include:

  • presentations
  • class tests
  • essays
  • literature reviews
  • portfolio of independent work
  • group assignments
  • posters
  • commentaries
  • learning diaries.

Examinations are held at the end of each semester during a dedicated exam diet with revision time provided beforehand. Examinations are either entirely in written format or comprise both written and oral components.

Tutors advise you closely on the preparation of written and oral work and give individual assessments of your performance.

The Department aims to provide feedback on every assessment within three weeks to help you improve on future assessments.

Undergraduates at the University of St Andrews must achieve at least 7.0 on the St Andrews 20-point grade scale to pass a module. To gain access to Honours-level modules, students must achieve the relevant requisites as specified in the policy on entry to Honours and in the relevant programme requirements.

To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

You will be taught by a research-led teaching team with expertise and knowledge of Chinese studies. Postgraduate research students who have undertaken teacher training may also contribute to the teaching of tutorials under the supervision of the module leader.

You can find contact information for all Chinese studies staff on the Department of Chinese Studies website.

In addition to your studies in the Department of Chinese Studies, optional academic support is available through practical study skills courses and workshops hosted within the University.

The University’s Student Services team can help students with additional needs resulting from disabilities, long-term medical conditions or learning disabilities. More information can be found on the students with disabilities web page.



England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland

Channel Islands, Isle of Man

EU and overseas

More information on tuition fees can be found on the undergraduate fees and funding page.

Accommodation fees

Find out about accommodation fees for University accommodation.

Funding and scholarships

The University of St Andrews offers a number of scholarships and support packages to students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can also take Chinese Studies MA (joint degree) as part of a joint Honours degree in which you will take core modules of your chosen subjects.

  • Arabic
  • Art History
  • Comparative Literature
  • Economics
  •  Film Studies
  • French
  • German
  • International Relations
  • Italian
  • Management
  • Modern History
  • Persian
  • Russian
  • Spanish



China is the world's second-largest economy and its most populous nation-state. Knowledge of the Chinese language, along with an understanding of global issues in a Chinese context, will prepare you for an international career in a variety of industries.

This course will also prepare you to handle differences in working practices in Chinese-speaking contexts. You will learn to develop interpersonal skills and traits highly valued by Chinese-speaking partners, including:

  • non-confrontational patterns of behaviour
  • ability to identify the person or people with decision-making power in any given structure or organisation
  • swift and appropriate decision making
  • ability to deliver on promises made
  • willingness to attend and enthusiastically engage in social events
  • awareness of the way influential sectors of Chinese society perceive modern world history.

Typically, graduates of Chinese embark on careers in:

  • journalism
  • cultural diplomacy
  • diplomacy
  • consultancy and research
  • business
  • NGO-related work
  • literary translation
  • teaching and research professions.

The Careers Centre offers one-to-one advice to all students as well as a programme of events to assist students to build their employability skills.

What to do next

Online information events

Join us for one of our information events where you can find out about different levels of study and specific courses we run. There are also sessions available for parents and college counsellors.

Undergraduate visiting days

We encourage all students who are thinking of applying to the University to attend one of our online or in-person visiting days.

Contact us

+44 (0)1334 46 2961
Department of Chinese Studies

School of Modern Languages
University of St Andrews
Buchanan Building
Union Street
St Andrews
KY16 9PH

Department of Chinese Studies website