Chinese Studies

The department of Chinese Studies is in the School of Languages and Cultures (SLC).

About the major

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.

Pathways through the major

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.

Pathway 1: Absolute Beginners

Absolute beginners commence with CHNS1101. Beginners with some exposure to Chinese may commence in Semester 2 with CHNS1102. In addition to the language acquisition units in the table below you can also complete additional language units to extend your ability or take units of study in Chinese literature, film, media, culture, translation, gender and social studies, listed under Culture in the unit of study table.

A semester or a summer program in China or Taiwan is strongly recommended to students who want to develop advanced communication skills in Chinese.

Sample Pathway - Chinese (beginners) stream
First Year S1 CHNS1101 Chinese 1A Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 CHNS1102 Chinese 1B Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 CHNS2601 Chinese 2A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS2602 Chinese 2B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 CHNS3601 Chinese 3A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3602 Chinese 3B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Pathway 2: School Leaver (HSC or equivalent)

School leavers generally commence with CHNS2601, joining those who have successfully completed CHNS1102 This pathway is also available to learners with sufficient background knowledge. High-performing school leavers or those with sufficient background knowledge may commence with CHNS3601, joining students who have successfully completed CHNS2602.

In addition to the Chinese language acquisition units in the table below you can also complete additional language units to extend your ability or take units of study in Chinese literature, film, media, culture, translation, gender and social studies, listed under Culture in the unit of study table.

Students interested in pre-modern Chinese thought, literature and/or the history of the Chinese language are strongly encouraged to take the basic Classical Chinese units, CHNS2611 and CHNS2612.

A semester or a summer program in China or Taiwan is strongly recommended to students who want to develop advanced communication skills in Chinese.

Sample Pathway - Chinese (school leavers) stream
First Year S1 CHNS2601 Chinese 2A Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 CHNS2602 Chinese 2B Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 CHNS3601 Chinese 3A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3602 Chinese 3B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 CHNS3604 Chinese 4A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3605 Chinese 4B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Pathway 3: Background Speaker (with low literacy)

Designed for background Chinese speakers, near native speakers and advanced learners (including students who have successfully completed CHNS3604). In addition to the Chinese language acquisition units in the table below you can also complete additional language units to extend your ability or take units of study in Chinese literature, film, media, culture, translation, gender and social studies, listed under Culture in the unit of study table.

Sample Pathway - Chinese (background speaker with low literacy) stream
First Year S1 CHNS1201 Chinese 1C Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 CHNS1202 Chinese 1D Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 CHNS3603 Chinese 4A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3604 Chinese 4B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Pathway 4: Background Speaker (with intermediate literacy)

In addition to the Chinese language acquisition units in the table below you can also complete additional language units to extend your ability or take units of study in Chinese literature, film, media, culture, translation, gender and social studies, listed under Culture in the unit of study table.

Sample Pathway - Chinese (background speaker with intermediate literacy) stream
First Year S1 CHNS3601 Chinese 3A Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 CHNS3602 Chinese 3D Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 CHNS3603 Chinese 4A Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3604 Chinese 4B Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Pathway 5: Background Speaker (with advanced literacy, typically from Chinese-medium high schools)

In addition to the Chinese language acquisition units in the table below you can also complete additional language units to extend your ability or take units of study in Chinese literature, film, media, culture, translation, gender and social studies, listed under Culture in the unit of study table.

Sample Pathway - Chinese (background speaker with advanced literacy) stream
First Year S1 CHNS1303 Chinese 1E Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 CHNS1304 Chinese 1F Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1 CHNS2612 Classical Chinese B Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS3610 Chinese Translation Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior elective CHNS unit Senior unit Senior unit
S2 CHNS364X Senior-advanced elective unit Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Honours

The Honours program in Chinese Studies will provide you with an opportunity to engage in in-depth study of social, political, cultural, literary or linguistic topics related to Chinese Studies.

All students with good academic records in Chinese Studies should consider an Honours year. There will be a range of options for students with different levels of Chinese language proficiency and research interest; however, the more Chinese you have learned before you start, the more interesting the options that will be available to you. The minimum requirements for admission to Honours are as follows:

  1. a major in Chinese studies plus sufficient additional credit points selected from other China-focused units of study to reach 48 senior credit points; and
  2. a credit or better average in all qualifying units of study.

You are advised to consider taking ASNS3690 Approaches to Research in Asian Studies, in the semester before you intend to commence honours.

It is also possible to enrol in a joint Honours program with Chinese Studies and another department.

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

For further information see the department website.

Contact/further information

Department website: sydney.edu.au/arts/chinese
Acting Chair of Department: Dr Wei Wang;