M.Phil. in Modern Chinese Studies

Downtown Nanjing

Downtown Nanjing

For information on the MPhil in Modern Chinese Studies, including the selection criteria and resources available for the course, you should first consult the course page. Information on how to apply can be found in the University's Application Guide.

The course is not designed for people with a first degree in Chinese Studies, or those who otherwise already have advanced knowledge of modern Chinese.  Such students are advised to apply to one of the following courses:

See also Comparison of Masters degrees in Chinese studies offered by the University

Student Comments on the MPhil Modern Chinese Studies

I realized how much I wanted to engage with ideas, to delve into in historical research, and especially to eventually teach. This led me to apply to Oxford Chinese Studies M.Phil. It was exactly what I desired—an excellent preparatory degree for a doctoral work, small in size with extraordinary scholars and an intensive language program aimed at facilitating in original research.

John Alekna
Second year M.Phil. 2013


I chose the MPhil degree because of its strong emphasis on language training: the semester of classes at Peking University is a particular highlight.  However, what makes the course unusual is the combination of this language training with the opportunity to take classes in Modern China with Oxford scholars from multiple disciplines.

I returned to study at Oxford after two years of work in public policy, and an MA in Politics.  However, I decided to take opportunity to receive graduate training in history, which I had studied as an undergraduate.  Because of the multidisciplinary structure of the course, I have been able to choose options in Modern Chinese history and in Classical Chinese.  Moreover, the Humanities Track includes an excellent seminar introducing the study of Modern China from the perspective of several scholars in the Department. 

I began my MPhil studies at Oxford with some background in Chinese (I had been interested in China since teaching English in Jiangsu after before starting university).  I had studied the language during the last year of my undergraduate degree, but did not have the opportunity to continue.  The pace and rigour of the language training at Oxford meant that this background, whilst helpful, was soon irrelevant.  The quality of language teaching at Oxford is very high, and classes progress correspondingly fast.

Katherine Molyneux
Second year M.Phil. 2013


This M.Phil is not for the language shy – intensive Chinese language lessons form a central part of the course. Students receive five hours of teaching a week, but make up much more through self guided study and online resources are provided to structure this.  The first year introduces approximately 800 characters, alongside comprehensive grammar lessons. Year two progresses to newspaper translation, with Chinese primary sources making up the main body of dissertation research. 

Beginners in Chinese should not be dissuaded from applying to the M.Phil.  The course is designed to cater for those without a prior background in Mandarin.  Before starting the M.Phil, I had no experience of Chinese, but had specialised in Chinese studies during my History BA and international year abroad at Hong Kong University.  

For those looking to continue a fascination with China, this course provides the necessary grounding in Chinese language to assist postgraduate study.

Hannah Sabin
First Year M.Phil. Student

Further information can also be found in the Course Handbook, for on-course students 2016-17, available here as a pdf. The Course Handbook is a comprehensive introduction to all aspects of the M.Phil. in Modern Chinese Studies.

Beginning academic year 2017, there will be a new joint MPhil Modern Chinese Studies and MSc Contemporary Chinese Studies programme, run by both the Faculty of Oriental Studies and the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies. These courses are jointly taught, but admission is through the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.


ESRC MPhil-to-DPhil Studentships in MPhil Chinese Studies, MPhil Modern Middle Eastern and MPhil in South Asian Studies

The University of Oxford is one of 21 centres of postgraduate excellence accredited by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a Doctoral Training Centre.  The University is one of the major providers of social science research training in the UK, and has one of the largest and most diverse pools of academic social scientists producing internationally recognised research.  It is home to a number of outstanding departments, which are committed to research to develop a greater understanding of all aspects of society.

The Faculty of Oriental Studies invites applications for an MPhil-to-DPhil ESRC studentship, in the language-based Area Studies training pathway.

Further information and how to apply can be found here http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/administration/grants/index.html