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Chinese Studies at Cambridge


Chinese is spoken by one-fifth of the world's population, and more and more young people all over the world are learning Chinese. But the language is only a means towards a much more important goal, that is, to be able to access a fascinating world through the medium of its own language and conceptions. The BA in Chinese Studies at Cambridge will provide you with extensive abilities in the modern Chinese language, a solid grounding in classical and literary Chinese, and a critical understanding of the rich variety of Chinese culture. You will experience an exceptional challenge that will equip you for rewarding careers and a lifetime of appreciation of the vibrant living tradition of China and Chinese communities worldwide.

Although knowledge of Chinese is not a prerequisite for the course, imagination, perseverance, and a sense of adventure are essential! We are looking for students who can demonstrate a serious commitment to learning about this vital, and politically and economically important, part of the world.

To study China, the Chinese language and Chinese culture is a tremendously fascinating challenge. The Cambridge course offers depth and breadth across many topics but it is equally true that no four-year course can cover each and every aspect or academic discipline related to China. It is important therefore that you study carefully whether our course is right for you. The Chinese Studies BA  requires a commitment to very intensive language work; alongside learning modern spoken Chinese (Mandarin) and written Chinese (in both simplified and non-simplified forms), the study of classical and literary forms of the Chinese language is a required component of the course. We do not teach Chinese for you to only be able to ask for directions when visiting China as a tourist, order dishes in a Chinese restaurant (though that is an important skill!), or negotiate a business deal with a Chinese company. We hope that you will build the necessary foundations for a life-long engagement with, and enjoyment of, things Chinese. If you cannot envision yourself spending long hours (for four years!) learning and mastering the Chinese language (literary as well as modern), or if history and literature, art and anthropology, religion or philosophy are not your thing, we recommend you explore course options other than Cambridge.

We invite you to explore our recommended reading list

We also hope to see you at our Open Day activities. Please do not hesitate to contact any of the Chinese Studies teaching staff if you have any questions.

Here is a recent brief video presentation on our Faculty as a whole featuring some undergraduate students in Chinese Studies.


   publicity billboard for Chengdu, the home of giant pandas, photo by Adam Chau