Guide to Studying Chinese

What is Chinese?

  • Chinese is a group of similar but often mutually exclusive languages spoken primarily in the Oriental nations of South and East Asia. Between 15–20% of the world's population speak Chinese as their first language.
  • The most common form, Standard Chinese, is the Beijing dialect of the Mandarin language. It is the official language of China, Taiwan and Singapore, and is one of the six official languages of the United Nations.

Why study Chinese?

  • Many courses offer tuition both to native speakers, and to those who want to learn one of the planet's most spoken languages.
  • Offers a great insight into the Chinese nation, including business, economy, geography, history, language, law, politics, religion, media and culture.
  • With China rising as the world's newest great superpower, an understanding of the nation and language will prove very beneficial to those looking for a career in international business or politics.
  • Often taught as part of a dual degree, working well with politics, management, or another foreign language.
  • There are opportunities to study abroad, either as a single or dual degree to study how China educates students and to gain extra grasp on the language.

Coursework, Assessment and Exams

  • Most courses require students to attend classes each week in lectures, seminars, tutorial discussions and student presentations: the exact mixture of activities varies somewhat from course to course. At Masters level there is a particular emphasis on students’ contributions and presentations, and students are also expected to read extensively and prepare for each class in advance. Exams can be both written and oral.

What degree can I get? 

  • BA Chinese
  • BA Chinese Studies
  • BA Mandarin Chinese
  • BA Chinese as dual honours

What qualifications do I need?

  • Entry requirements vary at each institution, and are subject to change.
  • Always confirm the entry requirements for the particular university/course you are interested in.

Use our Course Chooser to search through Chinese courses.

What are the postgraduate opportunities

  • There is an exciting range of taught MAs and research degrees at postgraduate level.
  • Examples include a straight MA in Chinese Studies, as well as in Modern Chinese Studies, Contemporary Chinese Studies, and MA in English-Chinese Translation.

Graduate job prospects



*Professional employment refers to a job or occupation which normally requires a degree.
**Non-professional employment refers to a job or occupation which doesn't normally require a degree.

What are the job opportunities?

  • Chinese degrees teach students valuable transferable skills, such as presentation, research and communication, as well as knowledge of a second language. 
  • Particular job areas include as an archivist, teacher, interpreter, journalist, press officer, sales executive or solicitor.
  • Several professional organisations offer specialised positions for Chinese graduates, such as GCHQ.