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Degree type


Course length

4 years full-time


Durham City

UCAS code


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Typical offers

Typical offers
A Level AAB
International Baccalaureate 36

Course details

This is a four-year multidisciplinary degree in which the compulsory Chinese language and culture modules will be taught at the School of Modern Languages and Cultures (MLaC) and in the Department of History. You may choose a selection of other modules relevant to the study of China from other departments, including Anthropology, Education, Government and International Affairs, Economics, and Theology and Religious Studies.

In addition, you may choose to take additional modules offered by MLaC including European languages and Japanese. All students will spend their third year studying the Chinese language at a university in China. Students are not expected to have any previous knowledge of Chinese, but a pathway is available if you have an A level or equivalent qualification in Chinese.

A full list of the modules currently available can be accessed here.

Year 1

You will take a double module in Chinese, including the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, a module in Chinese culture introducing the philosophy, art and literature of China, a module in Chinese history and two option modules from an extensive list.

Core modules:

  • Chinese Language 1B or Chinese Language 1A for post-A level entrants (double module)
  • Introduction to Chinese Culture
  • A module on Chinese history offered by the History Department.

Year 2

You will take a double module in Chinese language, including the four skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, a module in Chinese film, a module in Chinese history and two option modules from an extensive list.

Core modules:

  • Chinese Language 2B (double) or Chinese Language 2A (single)
  • Chinese Cinema
  • A module on Chinese history offered by the History Department.

Year 3

The third year is spent in China studying the language full-time at a Chinese university. You are required to take all the examinations specified by your host university, but the marks for these do not count towards the final degree mark. You will complete a summative Year Abroad assignment with guidance from Durham staff.

Year 4

You will take a double module in Chinese language, a single text reading module in Chinese and a 40-credit Dissertation plus one other module, following either the History route or the Modern languages and cultures route.

Core modules:

  • Chinese Language 4 (double)
  • Chinese Historical and Literary Texts
  • Dissertation.

Either History route:

  • 40-credit Dissertation in History
  • History and Memory in East Asia.

Or MLAC route:

  • 40-credit China-related MLaC Dissertation
  • 20-credit module from MLaC or another department.


You may be able to take a work placement. Find out more.

Study abroad

We attach great importance to your time abroad, during the third year of your degree, which most students spend as a student at a university in China. This is a time of enormous linguistic and personal development from which you should gain a high level of fluency in your language(s) and enjoy a unique opportunity to make new friends, appreciate new cultures and learn to work and study in new ways. Employers at home and abroad are impressed by the lasting benefits, especially in increased linguistic confidence, intercultural agility and general self-motivation.

During the year abroad you will complete a summative Year Abroad assignment. The assignment will be submitted before the start of the first term of your final year of study. You will need to pass this in order to fulfil the requirements of the BA in Chinese Studies with Year Abroad.


Typically you will have 12 hours of classroom teaching per week in the three years of the degree based in Durham. Language modules involve six hours per week of teaching, while modules on culture, history and other topics are usually taught by means of weekly lectures and fortnightly seminars.

Classroom teaching is an important part of your learning, but this is only the beginning. It provides a starting point for your development as an independent, self-motivated learner. The majority of your time will be spent working independently, reading widely, making notes, finding sources of information, listening to and viewing audiovisual materials. For each hour of timetabled classroom teaching, you will be expected to carry out approximately four hours of independent study and research.

A significant proportion of this time will be spent preparing and completing assessment tasks. In core language modules, heavy emphasis is placed on formative assessment as an ongoing element of the learning process, progressively preparing you for written and oral assessments. In other modules, most assessment is largely consisting of a mix of essays and written examinations.

In addition to regular support and feedback from module teachers and conveners, your learning will be supported at the individual level by a personal Academic Adviser, who will meet with you three times a year to discuss your overall progress. This support network continues during the Year Abroad, when every student is supported by a designated member of staff.

The Year Abroad is a key element in the progressive, developmental education that Chinese Studies at Durham seeks to provide, fostering the accelerated acquisition of language skills and expanding intercultural competence. You will work independently during your time abroad on preparation for your final-year dissertation and the summative Year Abroad assignment submitted at the beginning of your final year.

In general, there will be an increasing emphasis on independent learning and research skills, culminating in the final-year dissertation. Rather than imparting detailed information, the main aim of the teaching you receive will be to help you to learn how to learn – guiding you towards using resources effectively, thinking critically and formulating persuasive arguments.

Entry requirements

You are not expected to have any previous knowledge of Chinese, but if you do have an A level (or equivalent) in Chinese, then you can enter the Advanced stream from Year 1.

A level offerAAB. Grade A in History is required, if taking the History option.

BTEC Level 3 National Extended Diploma/OCR Cambridge Technical Extended DiplomaDDD. Grade A in History is required, if taking the History option.

IB Diploma score 36 with 665 in higher level subjects. Please see above for subject requirements.

In addition to satisfying the University’s general entry requirements, please note:

  • We welcome applications from those with other qualifications equivalent to our standard entry requirements and from mature students with non-standard qualifications or who may have had a break in their study. Please contact our Admissions team for more information.
  • If you are an international student who does not meet the requirements for direct entry to this degree, you may be eligible to take an International Foundation Year pathway programme at the Durham University International Study Centre.
  • We are pleased to consider applications for deferred entry.

Alternative qualifications

International students who do not meet direct entry requirements for this degree might have the option to complete an International Foundation Year.

English language requirements

Country specific information

Fees and funding

Full Time Fees

Tuition fees
Home students £9,250 per year
EU students £23,900 per year
Island students £9,250 per year
International students £23,900 per year

The tuition fees shown for home students are for one complete academic year of full time study and are set according to the academic year of entry. Fees for subsequent years of your course may rise in line with an inflationary uplift as determined by the government.

The tuition fees shown for overseas and EU students are for one complete academic year of full time study, are set according to the academic year of entry, and remain the same throughout the duration of the programme for that cohort (unless otherwise stated).

Please also check costs for colleges and accommodation.

Scholarships and Bursaries

We are committed to supporting the best students irrespective of financial circumstances and are delighted to offer a range of funding opportunities. 

Find out more about Scholarships and Bursaries

Career opportunities

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Of those students who graduated in 2019:

  • 91% are in paid employment or further study 15 months after graduation across all our programmes

Of those in employment:

  • 81% are in high skilled employment
  • With an average salary of £27,000.

(Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey. The survey asks leavers from higher education what they are doing 15 months after graduation. Further information about the Graduate Outcomes survey can be found here

Department information

School of Modern Languages and Cultures

Employers of all kinds are looking for ‘global graduates’: people with excellent communication skills, the ability to mediate sensitively between cultures and the confidence to adapt to different environments.

At Durham University, you can specialise in one or two languages and the cultural worlds associated with them – choose from Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic Studies, Italian, Japanese and Russian. You will develop high-level language skills and in-depth intercultural awareness. The year abroad will give those capabilities a crucial boost, as well as provide valuable experience.

For more information see our department pages.


  • World Top 100 in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2022
  • 4th in The Complete University Guide 2023
  • 6th in The Guardian University Guide 2022.


For a current list of staff, please see the School of Modern Languages and Cultures pages.

Research Excellence Framework

8th in the UK for research power (REF 2021).


The School of Modern Languages and Cultures is a leading centre of teaching and research in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hispanic, Italian, Japanese and Russian Studies. The language laboratories have excellent audio-visual facilities and both main lecture rooms and small group teaching rooms are equipped for the increasing integration of film and other audio-visual material. The School’s Open Access Centre is situated in the same building, offering further self-access resources. Durham has first-class library facilities, with the main University collections supplemented by those of college libraries.


Find out more:

Use the UCAS code below when applying:



The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) handles applications for all undergraduate courses.

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