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Career Opportunities

Where will my degree in Chinese Studies take me?

Graduates of the BA in Chinese Studies have embarked on a wide variety of successful careers. Some have joined the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, or international scientific or welfare agencies. Others have entered large business concerns based in London or in East Asia. Some of our graduates have become journalists, widely read for their reports on current events in the People's Republic of China. Others have become teachers in Britain, North America, Hong Kong, Japan and Europe. Still others have joined the staffs of major museums and libraries. One even runs a successful travel agency specialising in China tours.

Very few graduates have set aside Chinese to take up work unrelated to China; they have preferred instead to employ the skills learned in the Cambridge course for distinctive and highly rewarding careers. 

Helen Pittam
BA (Hons) Chinese Studies, Churchill College, 2013

Studying Chinese at Cambridge is not only fascinating, but it also helps you develop an invaluable set of skills. The rigorous course, the broad range of subjects covered and the opportunity to immerse yourself in a different culture really do make a unique and rewarding experience.

Small classes mean a greater sense of community and support - both classmates and staff encouraged me to achieve the most I could from my studies. In particular, I co-wrote and published an academic article [article here] with my dissertation supervisor – something I never thought I would be doing as an undergraduate!

Every day I use what I have learned at Cambridge in my work. At the UK Department for International Development, I depend upon the analytical skills and ability to quickly understand new topics that I gained from AMES. Within the Department I work in the trade policy team, looking into how international trade can benefit developing countries. In this work an understanding of China, the world’s second largest economy, has proven invaluable and I firmly believe these skills will continue to support me in my future career. 

Lizzie Payne-James
BA (Hons) Chinese Studies, Queens' College, 2008

content-payne-james.jpg"I chose Chinese Studies because I love a challenge, and relished the idea of a course that provided such a rich insight into an extraordinary country. I studied a mix of disciplines at A-level (Ancient Greek, Maths, History and Politics), so the breadth of the course also appealed to me. My time in the Faculty was everything I'd hoped for and more. By the time I reached my third year, which is when I spent six months at Beijing University, the focus of my interest was international relations. I decided to write my dissertation on Chinese-African relations, and after some persistent cold-calls and emails, I landed an internship in the political section of the European Commissions Delegation in Beijing that summer.

My time at the Delegation led me to realise that I would be better suited to work in a business with commercially-driven goals, and so during my final year (in 2008) I sought a training contract with an international law firm that had shown a particular focus on China. I loved my two years there, particularly the six months I spent in the firm's Hong Kong office, but at the end of the two years I realised that none of the departments quite felt like the right fit for me. Fate then played a wonderfully-timed hand, and I received a call from a US singer's manager who had often seen me at gigs in previous years. He asked me if I wanted to be a music lawyer. Ive now been a music lawyer for over a year in a niche law firm and am loving every minute, looking forward to the moment when we can fully realise the potential of the music market in China."

Julia Lovell, University Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck College
BA (Hons) Chinese Studies, Emmanuel College, 1997

"Having graduated in 1997 with a joint BA in Chinese and History, I went on to complete an MPhil and PhD in modern Chinese literature at the Faculty in Cambridge, and studied also at the Johns Hopkins Center for Chinese Studies in Nanjing and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. I am now Senior Lecturer in Modern Chinese History at Birkbeck College, University of London. Since graduating, I have published three books on the links between modern Chinese culture and national identity. I have also translated several works of modern Chinese fiction into English, including the complete short stories of Lu Xun for Penguin Classics.

The Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies offered me an extraordinary education in the complexity and diversity of Chinese language, history and culture. Studying here laid the foundations for my subsequent career researching Chinese history and literature. The training that I received here provided me with linguistic and intellectual resources upon which I continue to draw today."