Chinese Studies


China is one of the world’s great civilisations, alongside the European and Middle Eastern traditions. The Chinese Studies program will provide you with a solid understanding of Chinese society and culture, the foundational language skills essential to function with confidence in the Chinese-speaking world, a basic ability to work in China-related professions and the competence to conduct research in Chinese studies. The modern Chinese language program caters for students with a wide range of language abilities: complete beginners, advanced learners, and speakers with background in both standard and non-standard forms of vernacular Chinese. The program focuses on developing effective communicative skills at the lower and intermediate levels, including Chinese for professional purposes. At the advanced levels, we teach research and academic writing skills in the Chinese language. The teaching of classical Chinese is integrated with the study of the literature and thought of pre-modern China.

All students, regardless of prior experience of the language, have access to the full range of units of study offered by the department including the opportunity to go on exchange or attend an Intensive Summer Program at Peking University. Whether you are an absolute beginner in the language, or have an HSC at different levels of Chinese language, or you are a background-speaker, you can major in Chinese Studies and go on to complete an honours year or postgraduate study in the subject. Graduates have future careers in international relations, multinational corporations, media, tourism, NGOs, academic research, and education relating to China.

Study plan

Pathways through a Chinese Studies major differ from student to student, depending on the level of Chinese language ability at entry to the program. Starting at the appropriate level is essential, if you are unsure where you should start, contact the Department for advice.

A major in Chinese Studies requires at least 36 senior credit points including at least 24 from language units of study of which 6 must be at 3000 level.

Background speakers with advanced literacy are exempt from completing the language requirement of the major.

The units of study for the major can be found in the Table A unit of study table for Chinese Studies. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

A semester exchange or intensive in-country program in China or Taiwan is strongly recommended if you have low and intermediate literacy and want to develop advanced communication skills in Chinese.

If you are already fluent in a Chinese language (eg Putonghua or Cantonese) but have very limited knowledge of characters, you will enter the language program beginning with CHNS1201. Those who already have some literacy in Chinese often enter the language program beginning with CHNS3601.

If you can already read Chinese fluently, you will begin with CHNS1303 (Chinese for Background Speakers 1) and CHNS1601 (Understanding Contemporary China). In Semester 2, CHNS1304 (Chinese for Background Speakers 2) and CHNS2612 (Classical Chinese B) are possible options.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

Asian Studies

Our courses that offer this major