Chinese Studies MSc

Chinese Geisha

The programme offers an introduction to the fascinating and fast-changing dimensions of China today. It provides a broad grounding in Chinese society, economy, business, politics and culture. There is the flexibility to combine cultural and political studies with introductory or more advanced modules in Mandarin.

Key facts

Why this programme

  • The degree is interdisciplinary, drawing on the expertise of specialists in Chinese politics, economics, business, culture and history, as well as the range of seminars, workshops and lectures delivered by the University's Scottish Centre for China R
  • You can spend eight weeks (May to July) in China, where you will have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of Chinese society and culture. You have a choice of being based in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai.
  • Glasgow boasts a number of China-focused organisations and events you can get involved with, including the Confucius Institute at University of Glasgow and the Scottish Centre for China Research, which brings together scholars undertaking cutting edge research on China.
  • You are encouraged to learn Chinese language at the level appropriate to your ability. For those not taking credit-bearing language modules, a free place on one of the Confucius Institute's existing classes is available.

Programme structure

The programme is made up of two core courses, four optional courses, and a dissertation.

Core courses

  • Chinese politcs and society
  • China in the international economy

Optional courses

The courses are structured into five pathways

Language and Culture

  • China’s century of conflict: 1842-1949
  • Chinese internship OR language in China
  • Chinese language
  • Gender, culture and text
  • Secularisation and society 

Language and Business

  • Business environment in China*
  • Chinese internship OR language in China
  • Chinese language
  • Contemporary issues in HR*  
  • Managing strategic change*  
  • Marketing management*.

*Courses offered by the Adam Smith Business School

Governance and Society

  • Comparative public opinion: concepts and applications
  • Environmental policies and problems in China
  • Global cities
  • Understanding public policy.

International Relations

  • Challenges in international politics
  • China's international politics
  • International relations theory
  • International security and global politics
  • Politics of foreign policy 

Human Rights

  • Critical perspectives in human rights
  • Critical perspectives in securities & vulnerabilities
  • Human rights and global politics
  • Humanitarian intervention: civilian or sovereignty

Research Methods

  • Introduction to social theory for researchers
  • Qualitative research methods
  • Social science statistics 1
  • Social science statistics 2.

Your chosen pathway will be named on your student award, eg. MSc Chinese Studies (International Relations). You are free to choose options outside your pathway but we would encourage you to consult with the programme convenor if you plan to do so. 


The dissertation is your opportunity to explore your own specialist interest in China and to demonstrate the research and writing skills you have developed during the programme. With the advice of your supervisor you will develop a topic, undertake primary and secondary research, and write a 12,000-15,000 word dissertation which you will submit in September. The dissertation could form the basis for a PhD thesis.

(*) Students taking the internship/language option have to pay for their own travel, accommodation and fees for the internship placement and/or language course in China. The language options are not available to Chinese nationals.

Background and aims

The Chinese Studies MSc is aimed at students who want to pursue an advanced degree in order to train for a range of careers involving China that require understanding of its contemporary society, politics and economy and international relations.

Specifically, the programme aims to

  • Identify the social, political, and economic forces that shape China today
  • Promote understanding of China’s development and the implications of its relationships with the rest of the world
  • Recognise the challenges and problems which China faces in its development and evaluate policies to address these challenges
  • Equip graduates with a theoretically informed understanding of how social science theories and research have been used to interpret Chinese politics, society and economy
  • Provide an opportunity to critically debate the features of China’s development, including theories of global economic integration, international relations, nationalism, democratisation versus authoritarian persistence, the development of civil society, human rights, and the international role of rising powers
  • Develop and enhance skills in Chinese research methods and the ability to work effectively with source materials in Chinese, across cultural boundaries and in China
  • Develop knowledge and skills which can be applied in a range of careers involving China.

The programme is small, and we actively promote student-centred teaching and guarantee individual dissertation supervision. Some classes are shared with students from other programmes, adding to the liveliness of classes and enriching debate. The student body is extremely international.

China and Glasgow

Glasgow is a vibrant, cosmopolitan place with a lively contemporary arts and culture scene. It has been named as a UNESCO City of Music, making it part of the Creative Cities Network. While studying here, you can benefit from various organizations within and beyond the University

  • The Confucius Institute at the University of Glasgow is a partnership with Nankai University supported by the Chinese Ministry of Education’s Office for Chinese Language (Hanban). A primary purpose of the Institute is to teach the Chinese language. The Institute will also organise cultural activities, including lectures and exhibitions.
  • The Scottish Centre for China Research, based at this University, brings together scholars doing cutting edge research on China across a range of social science disciplines.
  • The China-Britain Business Council (CBBC) has its Scottish office in Glasgow and organizes regular industry briefings. Individual membership is available on a subscription basis.
  • The Cross-Party Group on China at the Scottish Parliament brings together figures from civil society, business and politics with an interest in China. Membership is open to the public and events are held several times a year when parliament is in session.
  • The City of Glasgow, through Culture and Sport Glasgow (C&SG) has significant resources relating to China, including important Chinese art collections held by the Burrell Collection. 
  • Ricefield Chinese Arts and Cultural Centre delivers high quality events in the city including art exhibitions and film screenings.
  • The Scotland-China Association (Glasgow Branch) organises seminars and informal dinners where you can meet people from Glasgow with an interest in China.‌

What our students say

Derek Maberly (UK), 2012-13

Derek Maberly recording

I chose to study at the University of Glasgow because I had the opportunity to study part time, while working at the same time. The range of options available on the programme also appealed to me. I particularly liked the fact you could choose to do a Chinese language course, an option which similar programmes in the UK courses didn’t offer. The language modules are quite intensive course so you have to put in a lot of hard work, but if you do, you can enhance your knowledge and skills substantially. You also have the option to go China for a couple of months to increase your Chinese.


At the moment, the Scottish Government are trying to enhance China in the schools and the school I work in is hoping to start introducing some Chinese language modules next year. As a result of having done the MSc Chinese Studies, I was able to get involved with an introductory course in Chinese language which will soon be offered at my school.

Apart from having a fantastic reputation, it’s a huge university and the library and resources you’ve got access to are great. They are a great help when you write your essays and to prepare you for the coursework. I also enjoyed the fact that I got to know members of the staff. Everyone has been very approachable in case I ever needed a quick answer. The communication between students on the course is very good as well so the student experience has been excellent. We’re all a small, close-knit group who share ideas with each other. So you’re never on your own.

Because I live here, I love Glasgow. It’s a fantastic place to live and to study. I wasn’t fortunate enough to come here as an undergraduate but I’ve enjoyed my time as a postgraduate student because of the programme I am doing. The course contents are just fascinating and I have learned so much.

Eveline Gnabasik (Nebraska, USA), 2012-13

‌Eveline Gnabasik recording

I wanted to study internationally, in an English-speaking country, and also wanted to study at an ancient university, somewhere unique, a well respected University. Glasgow clearly fits both of those moulds and at the end of the day it came down to a couple of different universities in Scotland and I had the best interactions with people from Glasgow. The staff were really helpful, everyone responded to my emails quickly and promptly, and they had some recruiting events in the United States that were really good, and I was just impressed overall with everybody I met and then continued to be.


I actually decided on Chinese Studies about halfway through my Law School programme because I had the opportunity to study comparative U.S/Chinese law in China for a while, and I think it’s an under-represented, but growing field. I also think that in order to understand a particular area of Chinese…anything…anything…any sort of study about China, you need to understand Chinese culture, Chinese things, where they’re coming from. So I was looking for a place where I could really delve into lots of different areas and study the language as well, and Glasgow had a really great programme for that.

The best thing about studying at the University of Glasgow, hands down, is the international community. I’ve met people from all over the world with a great spread of nationalities, especially in the postgraduate community. Class discussions are really unique and they make you think about things in a completely different way than you’d ever thought about them before. Because each country represents history to their students slightly differently, you get this incredible perspective which you otherwise never would have received and that’s probably the single best thing about it.

The breadth of what I was able to study on my particular programme was amazing. I’ve taken classes in history, economics and language, which I think is unique, particularly at postgraduate level. Studying the interactions between those four areas I think will be more and more important in academia in years to come, so that’s really amazing as well.

Moreover, the staff in the school are phenomenal. Everybody’s really kind, really knowledgeable, supportive and helpful. The mix of ancient architecture and newer facilities provides a unique experience which you couldn’t get in many other places. Everything you could ever want here is here, from athletics to arts, to concerts to…whatever you’re into, you can easily find here.

The absolute single thing I’ve enjoyed the most is the international field. I’ve told all my friends back home that it’s like being at the United Nations every day. The interesting thing is you think you can much better understand topical issues like the E.U crisis or the U.S debt crisis or what’s going on in China and North Korea when you actually meet people from those countries and the perspectives they bring to the table. You’re in a room with people from ten different European countries, an American, and two Chinese, and listening to all of them contribute to the conversation. You cannot get that anywhere else except at university that’s as world-class as this one. I also got the opportunity to do a lot of things that I didn’t get to do in my own undergraduate, that I’ve kind of delved back into, like water polo, which is just fun. I lived with flatmates from China, Spain, and Bulgaria. It’s a combination that I would never have imagined and it’s really interesting.

Alfred Hatton, 2012-14 (part-time)

'The best thing about Chinese Studies was the teaching staff, their enthusiasm and commitment. The variations in teaching style made for a great programme. It is distinctive from other programmes elsewhere due to the broad economic, political and social approach.'

Jingtian Fan

Jingtian Fan - Student Testimonial in Chinese

Jingtian Fan - Student Testimonial in English


China internship and study visit

Student Testimonial by Yanbin (in Chinese)

If taking the internship/language option, you will spend eight weeks (May to July) in China where you will have the opportunity to gain firsthand experience of Chinese society and culture. You can take an intensive course of Chinese language instruction, an internship in a Chinese workplace or a combination of the two.

Student Testimonial by Paul

Both the internships and language training will be arranged through an agency which has offers good quality internships across a range of industries as well as language classes at different levels of ability in established language schools. You have a choice of being based in Qingdao, Chengdu or Zhuhai.

More details.  

Entry requirements

for entry in 2015

Entry requirements for postgraduate taught programmes are a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above) in a relevant subject.

International students with academic qualifications below those required should contact our partner institution, Glasgow International College, who offer a range of pre-Masters courses.

English language requirements

For applicants whose first language is not English, the University sets a minimum English Language proficiency level.

International English Language Testing System (IELTS) Academic module (not General Training)

  • overall score 6.5
  • no sub-test less than 6.0
  • or equivalent scores in another recognised qualification (see below)

Common equivalent English language qualifications

All stated English tests are acceptable for admission for both home/EU and international students for this programme:

  • ibTOEFL: 92; no sub-test less than 20
  • CAE (Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English): 176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • CPE (Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English):  176 overall; no sub-test less than 169
  • PTE Academic (Person Test of English, Academic test): 60; no sub-test less than 59

For international students, the Home Office has confirmed that the University can choose to use these tests to make its own assessment of English language ability for visa applications to degree level programmes. The University is also able to accept an IELTS test (Academic module) from any of the 1000 IELTS test centres from around the world and we do not require a specific UKVI IELTS test for degree level programmes. We therefore still accept any of the English tests listed for admission to this programme.

Pre-sessional courses

The University of Glasgow accepts evidence of the required language level from the Language Centre Pre-sessional courses. We also consider other BALEAP accredited pre-sessional courses:


What do I do if...

my language qualifications are below the requirements?

The University's Language Centre offers a range of Pre-Sessional Courses to bring you up to entry level. The course is accredited by BALEAP, the UK professional association for academic English teaching; see Links.

my language qualifications are not listed here?

Please contact the Recruitment and International Office:


For further information about English language requirements, please contact the Recruitment and International Office:

Fees and funding

Tuition fees for 2016-17


Home and EU
Full time fee£6950
Part time 20 credits£772
Full time fee£15250

Fees are subject to change and for guidance only

Funding opportunities

Career prospects

This programme is ideal for anyone interested in pursuing a career involving China, whether in the business world, public services, the arts and media or as preparation for further academic study through PhD study. Our alumni have also gone on to successful careers as public affairs consultants, advertising and PR managers, as well as in secondary school education. The programme has helped graduates develop international perspective, critical thinking and writing skills, and also smoothed the path to living and working in the Far East.

How to apply

We ask that you apply online for a postgraduate taught degree. Our system allows you to fill out the standard application form online and submit this to the University within 42 days of starting your application.

You need to read the guide to applying online before starting your application. It will ensure you are ready to proceed, as well as answer many common questions about the process.

Guide to applying online

Do I have to apply online for a postgraduate taught degree?

Yes. To apply for a postgraduate taught degree you must apply online. We are unable to accept your application by any other means than online.

Do I need to complete and submit the application in a single session?

No. You have 42 days to submit your application once you begin the process. You may save and return to your application as many times as you wish to update information, complete sections or upload additional documents such as your final transcript or your language test.

What documents do I need to provide to make an application?

As well as completing your online application fully, it is essential that you submit the following documents:

  • A copy (or copies) of your official degree certificate(s) (if you have already completed your degree)
  • A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing full details of subjects studied and grades/marks obtained
  • Official English translations of the certificate(s) and transcript(s)
  • Two supporting reference letters on headed paper
  • Evidence of your English Language ability (if your first language is not English)
  • Any additional documents required for this programme (see Entry requirements for this programme)
  • A copy of the photo page of your passport (Non-EU students only)

If you do not have all of these documents at the time of submitting your application then it is still possible to make an application and provide any further documents at a later date, as long as you include a full current transcript (and an English translation if required) with your application. See the ‘Your References, Transcripts and English Qualification’ sections of our Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Do my supporting documents need to be submitted online?

Yes, where possible, please upload the supporting documents with your application.

How do I provide my references?

You must either upload the required references to your online application or ask your referees to send the references to the University as we do not contact referees directly. There is two main ways that you can provide references: you can either upload references on headed paper when you are making an application using the Online Application (or through Applicant Self-Service after you have submitted your application) or you can ask your referee to email the reference directly to See the 'Your References, Transcripts and English Qualifications' section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

What if I am unable to submit all of my supporting documents online?

If you cannot upload an electronic copy of a document and need to send it in by post, please attach a cover sheet to it that includes your name, the programme you are applying for, and your application reference number.

You may send them to:

Recruitment & International Office
71 Southpark Avenue
G12 8QQ
Fax: +44 141 330 4045

Can I email my supporting documents?

No. We cannot accept email submissions of your supporting documents.

What entry requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

You should check that you have met (or are likely to have met prior to the start of the programme) the individual entry requirements for the degree programme you are applying for. This information can be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab on each individual programme page, such as the one you are viewing now.

What English Language requirements should I have met before applying? Where can I find them?

If you are an international student, you should also check that you have met the English Language requirements specific to the programme you are applying for. These can also be found on the ‘entry requirements’ tab for each specific programme.

Further Information

Please see the Frequently Asked Questions for more information on applying to a postgraduate taught programme.

Guidance notes for using the online application

These notes are intended to help you complete the online application form accurately, they are also available within the help section of the online application form. If you experience any difficulties accessing the online application then you should visit the Application Troubleshooting/FAQs page.

  • Name and Date of birth: must appear exactly as they do on your passport. Please take time to check the spelling and lay-out.
  • Contact Details: Correspondence address. All contact relevant to your application will be sent to this address including the offer letter(s). If your address changes, please contact us as soon as possible.
  • Choice of course: Please select carefully the course you want to study. As your application will be sent to the admissions committee for each course you select it is important to consider at this stage why you are interested in the course and that it is reflected in your application.
  • Proposed date of entry: Please state your preferred start date including the month and the year. Taught masters degrees tend to begin in September. Research degrees may start in any month.
  • Education and Qualifications: Please complete this section as fully as possible indicating any relevant Higher Education qualifications starting with the most recent. Complete the name of the Institution (s) as it appears on the degree certificate or transcript.
  • English Language Proficiency: Please state the date of any English language test taken (or to be taken) and the award date (or expected award date if known).
  • Employment and Experience: Please complete this section as fully as possible with all employments relevant to your course. Additional details may be attached in your personal statement/proposal where appropriate.
  • References: Please provide the names and contact details of two academic references. Where applicable one of these references may be from your current employer. References should be completed on letter headed paper and uploaded on to your application.

Standard application deadlines

  • International applications (non-EU): 22 July 2016 
  • UK and EU applications: 26 August 2016

Classes start September 2016 and you may be expected to attend induction sessions the week before.

Apply now