Coronavirus information and guidance

Chinese Studies MA (joint degree) 2021 entry

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 pop cultures.

Whilst St Andrews does not 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.

How to apply Register your interest

Key information

Course type

Master of Arts (joint degree)

Course duration

Four years full time

  • Start date: 6 September 2021
  • End date: 30 June 2025

Information about all programmes from previous years of entry can be found in the archive.

Entry requirements

These grades are the overall standards required to consider you for entry. 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.

    • Standard entry grades: AAAB
    • Minimum entry grades: AABB
    • Gateway entry grades: BBBB
    • Standard entry grades: AAB
    • Minimum entry grades: ABB
    • Standard entry grades: 36 (HL 6,6,5)
    • Minimum entry grades: 36 (HL 6,5,5)

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 entrance requirements as outlined on their pages.

International applicants

If English is not your first language, you will need an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum score of 6.5 in each component (Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking), or an equivalent English language qualification.

How to apply

Do I need to have studied this subject before?

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

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

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.


St Andrews students must meet with their Adviser of Studies at the beginning of Semester 1 in September to complete advising – a compulsory part of the matriculation process. After module choices have been decided, a timetable will be allocated indicating the dates and times of classes.

Course information

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 pop 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.

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.

Find out more about Chinese studies at St Andrews.


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).

Chinese Studies is new for 2021 entry and remains under development. The exact content of modules will be determined over the academic year prior to the first cohort entering this level. If you have questions about the development of this programme, please contact

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. 

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. 

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

  • Sub-advanced Chinese Language 1: you will study more complex texts and be able to recognise and use 1,700 characters and 4,500 words. 
  • Sub-advanced Chinese Language 2: you will study more complex texts and be able to recognise and use 2,200 characters and 6,000 words. 
  • Advanced Chinese Language 1: you will be able to speak, read and write at a high level and will be able to recognise and use 2,600 characters and 7,500 words. 
  • Advanced Chinese Language 2: you will be able to speak, read and write at a high level and will be able to recognise and use over 3,000 characters and over 9,000 words. 

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):

  • Cultural History of the People's Republic of China
  • Culture, Technology, Censorship
  • Women's Writing
  • Eco-criticism in the Chinese-speaking world
  • Russia and Japan in the Imagining of the Chinese Nation
  • Contemporary Artistic Practice
  • Same-sex Culture in the PRC, Taiwan and Hong Kong
  • Twentieth and Twenty-first Century Film and Television
  • Literary and Cultural Creation in the Chinese Diaspora
  • Chinese Marxism and Anarchism
  • Use and Abuse of the Past
  • An Introduction to Wenyan 文言 – the Pre-modern Language

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.


Teaching format

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.

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.


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. Please note that some Schools offer qualified entry to Honours, and this will be clearly specified in the programme requirements. To find out the classification equivalent of points, please see the common reporting scale.

Meet us online

If you're interested in studying at St Andrews, join us on a virtual visiting day or daily information session to find out about our courses, how to apply, and to meet current students.

Virtual visiting days


Our spring 2021 visiting days have now passed. Dates for our Autumn 2021 visiting days will be available in early summer.


Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Home-funded £1,820
Rest of the UK £9,250
EU and overseas £25,100

For overseas students, tuition fees will be fixed at this level for the duration of your programme.

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 undergraduate students each year.

Joint Honours degrees

You can take Chinese Studies as part of a joint Honours degree alongside one of the following subjects.

In taking a joint degree, you are required to take core modules in all of your subjects. Find out more about joint degrees.

Your future


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.

Study abroad

Students studying Chinese may 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 site.

Student life

From the outset, the University of St Andrews offers an array of events and opportunities which result in a truly unique student experience. Students participate in a range of traditions, notably, the red academic gown and the academic family, where older students adopt first year students as ‘children’ and help guide them in a system of mentoring. These traditions and the choice of over 150 sports clubs and student societies to choose from ensures a community feel amongst students from first year onwards.

Students of Chinese may be interested in joining the following student society:

  • Chinese Hongpao Society provides a forum for anyone who are interested in Chinese culture to communicate with Chinese-speaking students.

The School of Modern Languages is situated at the very centre of St Andrews in the Buchanan Building on Union Street. Within the Buchanan Building is the multi-media centre, a digital language lab which students will use as both a component of their module classwork and as part of individual study.

The town of St Andrews itself has lots to offer. As University buildings are located throughout the town, walking around you encounter ancient and modern buildings, parks and beaches, providing a rich, beautiful backdrop to learning. Find out more about the town of St Andrews.

Find out more about student life at the University of St Andrews.


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

Phone: +44 (0)1334 46 2961

Department of Chinese Studies


Admission to the University of St Andrews is governed by our admissions policy.

Curriculum development

As a research intensive institution, the University ensures that its teaching references the research interests of its staff, which may change from time to time. As a result, programmes are regularly reviewed with the aim of enhancing students' learning experience. Our approach to course revision is described online (PDF, 72 KB).

Tuition fees

The University will clarify compulsory fees and charges it requires any student to pay at the time of offer. The offer will also clarify conditions for any variation of fees. The University’s approach to fee setting is described online (PDF, 84 KB).