MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies

From 2017/18, the MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies is a three-term, twelve-month course designed to provide high quality graduate research training with an emphasis on an appreciation of research methods and on deepening your understanding of contemporary China.

You will develop or extend your knowledge and understanding of:

  • the key approaches to the social scientific study of modern China;
  • research methods, strategies and ethics that will be of relevance to the social scientific study of China;
  • critical analysis of sources and ability to present findings effectively, both verbally and in sustained writing exercises;
  • framing and executing a workable research topic; and
  • interdisciplinary research and its potential.

Courses involve lectures as well as seminar or class discussions, for both of which you will receive reading lists. It is a fundamental component of the Oxford educational system that you engage in individual reading and study in order to broaden and deepen your knowledge of your chosen field.

There is limited one-to-one teaching on MSc courses. However, staff members will be available to advise you on reading, literature and topics. You will also be given a supervisor to help guide you through your thesis research through regular one-to-one meetings. Supervisors are assigned in Week 0 of Michaelmas Term, and assignment is based on your stated research interests and goals.

The teaching on the MSc programme is built around the two core courses. The first core course, Research Methods, will introduce you to the strengths and weaknesses of contrasting discipline-based approaches to the study of Asia.

The second core course, The Study of Contemporary China, teaches foundational knowledge of modern Chinese history, politics and society needed for further study or research in all disciplines, and introduces the different disciplinary approaches to the study of modern China.

In addition to the two core courses you will choose two option courses and complete a research thesis of 12,000 words on a research topic of your choosing, subject to approval by the Graduate Studies Committee.

Option courses each have their own method of assessment, which can include examinations, usually scheduled in Trinity Term, essays, projects and take-home tests. The MSc handbook, distributed prior to students’ arrival in Oxford, will give further information on assessment for option courses.

In addition to classes, seminars are held by the China Centre once a week in the evenings. These are given by a wide range of speakers on topics relating to their research and work. Students will be notified of time, dates, and topics via email and announcements on the MSc in Contemporary Chinese Studies website. Students should consider the seminar series and special lectures integral to their time in Oxford.

The MSc is jointly taught by staff within Social Sciences and Humanities, who will also assess your application.  The application process is administered by the School of Interdisciplinary Area Studies.

The degree is designed for students from a wide range of backgrounds. Students may well wish to proceed to this degree from undergraduate courses in such areas as History, Politics and International Relations, Economics, Geography, Anthropology, Sociology, Media or Cultural Studies with some element of coursework on China. However, previous undergraduate coursework on China is not a compulsory requirement for admission. We welcome also applications from students with a background in natural sciences, for instance, who may wish to develop knowledge and skills in the Social Sciences and Humaniites - whether in order to broaden their disciplinary range for natural science research, or to begin a switch in discipline.

In addition, applications will be considered from those, whether or not they have an academic background on China, who have worked in NGOs, civil service, journalism, private sector, or similar fields and who wish to consolidate and extend their knowledge through sustained academic study.

Applicants are required to have some knowledge of Mandarin. This may include records from formal language training successfully undertaken, or evidence of residence in China or Greater China over an extended period,or other evidence that shows some existing language competency.

This course can also serve very well as first stage preparation for subsequent doctoral research on China. Other paths graduates take include government and public service at international institutions, development and NGOs, major private sector firms in industry or finance, commercial research agencies and international consulting.

The application deadline for 2019/18 is 25th January 2019, 12 noon.

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