Chinese Studies (MA)
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.
- Internship and study abroad options
- Peer feedback and assessment
- Essays, reports
- Oral presentations
Maghiel van Crevel
Professor of Chinese Language and Literature
“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.”
“Many of our master’s students discover the quality of our programmes only after they join us. In the Netherlands, self-promotion is not a big part of our culture, yet Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty ranks alongside the most prestigious universities in the world, and is the established leader in continental Europe. What can our students expect from this programme? An education on par with the world’s best, with teaching by top researchers.”
Alumni: close-knit global community
“Your graduation from a master’s programme marks a new chapter in your relationship with Leiden University. Our alumni community is highly active in terms of network-building and development. They are valued by the university, and we support them with personal and professional development and free use of our facilities such as the Leiden University Library. This close-knit global community offers life-long support for all our former students in terms of reaching goals, maintaining friendships and expanding networks.”
Research: encouraging you to think beyond your own discipline
“Some of the most high-profile humanities research produced today is conducted at Leiden University’s Humanities Faculty. These faculty members are among a handful worldwide who can lay claim to such a depth and breadth of academic expertise. One example is our centre of excellence on Native American cultures, languages and history – a research group that is one of the best in the world. At Leiden, we can offer students expertise in most niche areas of interest. Our faculty members often work together across disciplines, and encourage students to think beyond the limits of their own discipline, which is where the future of innovative research lies.”
Careers: opportunities to develop your talent
“Decisions made during your studies have a big impact on your future. We offer you many opportunities to develop your talents both within and outside of the classroom, including internships, study trips abroad, student committees, and minors. These opportunities help define your objectives for after your studies, and equip you with additional skills and experience.”
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.
For a detailed programme, see the e-Prospectus. Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.