The MSt in Traditional China provides students with an opportunity to develop the skills needed for research on pre-modern and early modern China. It is designed to stand independently as a one-year qualification which can lead on to further study elsewhere, but also to provide the standard training required of graduate students here in Oxford aiming at a thesis degree in pre-modern and early modern Chinese Studies.
On the course you will work closely with certain members of Oxford’s internationally renowned team of specialist researchers from the China Centre, who will help you to tailor your master's degree to suit your needs and interests. The course involves a number of different elements.
The first is the close reading of selected texts which bear on your area of special interest. The selection will be carefully worked out during the first term of the course, and will balance your particular needs with those of other students working in similar areas.
The second is a basic course in Japanese or another specialist language relevant to the research topic, if taught at Oxford. Time is obviously too short to do real justice to this most difficult language, profoundly different from Chinese. So, teaching focuses on the essential need – to bring you to the point at which you can begin to tackle publications by Japanese specialists in your field. Once basic script and grammar have been covered, instruction moves straight on to readings with a Chinese focus. (There is no time to spare for the skills of speaking and listening.) The teacher for the Japanese course will be a native Japanese instructor.
The third element is an introduction to Sinology. This deals with the procedures of chronology, geography, bureaucracy, biography and bibliography in the context of traditional Chinese studies. The aim here is not so much to transmit information as to lead you away from a dependent, passive approach towards a questioning and free-standing research style.
The final element is a 15,000-word dissertation on an approved topic of your choice, based on primary sources. Time is short and length is restricted, but this part of the course will still aim to bring out your powers of exposition and analysis, and you will document your work according to professional academic standards.
Most of the teaching will be on an individual basis or in very small groups.
Evaluation of the course normally takes place entirely during the third term, through a combination of examination papers in prepared texts and unprepared translation in Classical Chinese or another approved Asian language, a take-home research exercise, and a dissertation. An oral examination (viva voce) may also be required.
The allocation of graduate supervision for this course is the responsibility of the Faculty of Oriental Studies and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff. Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Faculty of Oriental Studies.
As a minimum, applicants should normally hold or be predicted to achieve the equivalent of the following UK qualifications:
- a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours in Chinese studies.
If your degree is not from the UK, visit our International Qualifications page for guidance on the qualifications and grades that would usually be considered to meet the University’s minimum entry requirements.
For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.5 out of 4.0.
Other qualifications, evidence of excellence and relevant experience
- You should also have a good knowledge of Classical Chinese.
The MSt in Traditional China is designed to prepare students for doctoral research. The majority of students go on to careers in the academic world, education and in museums. However, there are also students who have found employment in business, the media and diverse other fields.
Oriental studies graduates have found employment in many and diverse fields including business, finance, law, civil service, journalism, government and industry. Many graduates undertake further research into subjects linked with Oriental studies and have pursued successful careers in the academic world, education and in museums.
For further information please refer to our Graduate Course Handbook.