Universiteit Leiden

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Chinese Studies (MA) (120EC)

About the programme

The two-year MA in Chinese Studies, a specialisation of Leiden University’s master's in Asian Studies, combines content courses with intensive and advanced language training, outstanding teaching, and world-class resources to bring you the only qualification of its calibre offered in the Netherlands.

Our curriculum is designed to give you a broad understanding of China, as well as the contextual knowledge to comment on issues from other vantage points – for example, western Europe – for both specialist and general audiences. Gain an understanding of disciplinary thinking, concepts, terminology and methodology as dictated by your regional-disciplinary specialisation, and acquire the skills to carry out independent and academic-quality research.

The curriculum of the two-year master's programme in Chinese Studies comprises core courses, two semesters at Shandong University in Jinan, China, and an MA thesis.

Your first semester of the programme will be taken at Leiden University, where you will take the following courses:

  • The core course Introduction to Asian Studies, which explores the place of Asian Studies in the larger field of Area Studies and among the many disciplines represented in Asian Studies;
  • A Thesis Class that delivers a grounding in the specific methodological and disciplinary approach most relevant to your expected thesis topic;
  • Electives, e.g. Modern China, Chinese art, Chinese linguistics, etc.;
  • Advanced Language Training in Modern Chinese, with the possibility of taking Classical Chinese should your specialisation require it. For the courses in Classical and Modern Chinese, you are expected to be able to read both traditional and simplified Chinese characters.

You will spend two semesters of your studies at Shandong University in Jinan, China, where you will strengthen your language skills while developing your understanding of the country and its society. At this university, programmes in Chinese language and civilisation for foreign students typically include courses, such as conversation, writing, newspaper readings and translation, offered at various levels for each course. While most courses run throughout the academic year, some may be offered for one term only.

The Faculty of Humanities offers a partial scholarship to reduce costs (and travel expenses) for the year in China for each applicant who has been admitted to the programme. This is not a full scholarship but only a partial contribution to your expenses in China.

Half of the programme’s final term is reserved for writing your MA thesis. Your thesis must be based on original research, and make substantial use of primary and secondary material in Chinese and English. It must written in English, and reflect the scholarly virtues of originality, focus and conciseness. Alongside your thesis, you will follow an advanced language course and one elective.

Maghiel van Crevel

Professor of Chinese Language and Literature

Maghiel van Crevel

“We don’t tell students what they should do; rather, we see ourselves as educators whose role is to stimulate students to pursue their own cultural or linguistic interests.”

A multidisciplinary programme

“What is primarily so special about this master’s is that it is multidisciplinary. I am a specialist in modern Chinese poetry; my colleagues are philosophers, political scientists, historians, economists, experts in material culture and religion and so on. We also offer a state-of-the-art language programme that covers both modern and classical Chinese.

We encourage students to extend their range of interests to make the most of what is on offer. The China-related library is one of the best in Europe and we have a very international team of educators. It is this combination that makes this master’s programme so unique.”

Cultural and business interests

“Chinese Studies is expanding at a rapid pace, in part as a result of the growth of the Chinese economy. Some students join the programme with a future business career in mind, but there are also those who are simply interested in the country's art, philosophy, literature, history and so on.”

Detailed programme

First year
Course EC
Advanced Mandarin I 10
The Visual and Material Culture of Exchange in Asia and Europe, 1500-1800 10
Art and Power in Asia (10 EC) 10
Art and Power in Asia (5 EC) 5
Comparative Asian Linguistics 10
Advanced Readings in Classical Chinese 5
China's International Political Economy 10
The Politics of Digital East Asia 10
Topics in Modern Chinese History (10 EC) 10
Confucianism in Context 10
China’s New Workers and the Politics of Culture 10
Sexualities and Genders in Modern East Asia, 1600-1945 (10 EC) 10
Critical Approaches to Heritage Studies 5
Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity (10 EC) 10
Lives on the Margins: Korean Peninsula Migration and Identity (5 EC) 5
Cultural Heritage in East Asia: dealing with the past in present and future 10
Material Culture, Memory and Commemoration along the Silk Roads in Central Asia 10
Year in China A 30
Second year
Course EC
Year in China B 30
MA Thesis Asian Studies (120 EC) 15
Advanced Mandarin: Listening & Speaking 3 5
Advanced Mandarin: Reading & Writing 3 5
Approaches to East Asian Cinema (5 EC) 5
The Politics of Destruction: Targeting World Heritage 10
Creativity and Culture in Contemporary China 10
Sinographics: Chinese writing and writing Chinese 10
China and Global Cyberspace 10
Topics in Chinese Art History, Things and Paths: Approaches to Chinese Art and Material Culture 10
Topical Readings in Historical and Literary Chinese Texts 10
The Past in the Present: Nation-building in Modern China (10 EC) 10
The Past in the Present: Nation-building in Modern China (5 EC) 5
Democratizing Histories (10 EC) 10
Economy Japan/East Asia 10
Culture and Conquest: the Impact of the Mongols and their Descendants 10

For a more detailed programme, see the Prospectus.

Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Native speakers

One of the main objectives of the two-year programme Chinese Studies is to enhance Chinese language proficiency. We strongly advise native speakers to apply for the Research Master’s programme in Asian Studies or the specialisations History, Arts and Culture or Politics, Society and Economy.


Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme?

Check the entry requirements

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