Traditional China MSt

Wang Xizhi by Qian Xuan. Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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 dissertation. 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.

The balance between taught courses and self-directed learning is approximately 30/70 and most of the teaching will be on an individual basis or in very small groups.

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.

Assessment

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 of 15,000 words on an approved topic of your choice, based on primary sources. An oral examination (viva voce) may also be required.

Resources

Most of the lectures and classes for the MSt in Traditional China are organised and conducted at the Dickson Poon University of Oxford China Centre Building. The China Centre, brings together academics drawn from across a range of disciplines, who have in common research and teaching interests related to China. The building has a 100-seat lecture theatre, a 200-seat dining area and a range of conference and seminar facilities. It also has a dedicated library with study carrels and a reading room, which holds books from the KB Chen China Centre Library.

The facilities at the China Centre provide opportunities for interaction with students on a range of China-related degrees as well as lectures and other academic activities. A Classical Chinese reading group meets every week in Full Term. The China Centre also organises its own weekly seminar, at which speakers include visiting international scholars, members of the Oxford academic staff, and graduate students. The talks are given in English or Chinese, and discussions are always critical and lively. Other graduate seminar groups with more specialised focus, for instance modern history or art and archaeology, also meet regularly.

In addition to this, there are a number of other specialist library collections in Oxford that focus on Oriental studies, such as:

The Sackler Library includes the principal library for Egyptology and ancient Near Eastern Studies. The Khalili Research Centre is the University of Oxford's centre for research and teaching in the art and material culture of the Islamic societies of the Middle East and of non-Muslim members and neighbours. Adjacent to the Oriental Institute is the Ashmolean Museum, which houses superb collections.

You will also have access to the University's centrally provided electronic resources, the department's IT Officer and other bibliographic, archive or material sources as appropriate to the research topic. There is a computing room for the use of graduate students in the Oriental Institute, as well as a common room where tea and coffee are available and staff and students can meet.

Sources of funding

Applications recieved for this course by the January deadline will also be considered for funding if applications fulfill the eligibility criteria. Please use the University's fees, funding and scholarship search tool to find what funding you may be eligible for.

The Faculty has a number of scholarships and funding opportunities across a wide range of subjects. Please see here for a list of these opportunities.