Contemporary Chinese Studies MA


Fact file

Qualification name:Contemporary Chinese Studies
Duration:1 year full-time
Entry requirements:Candidates are normally expected to have at least a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent from an accredited university in an appropriate discipline for entry onto the MA. Candidates with a high 2:2 or equivalent will be considered on a discretionary basis.
IELTS:6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
Start date:September
Campus:Jubilee Campus

Course Overview

China's unprecedented rise means it has never been more important for the world to know and understand China. The MA Contemporary Chinese Studies is a highly flexible course, and seeks to extend your language skills and understanding of China in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. As a student on this programme, you will be encouraged to develop your ability to critically analyse contemporary China's history, culture, economy, policy and society both domestically and in a global context.

This course will equip you with an enviable skillset, including an understanding of the diverse research methods used in contemporary Chinese studies. You will graduate with a strong working Chinese vocabulary and will be adept at communicating your ideas, principles and theories both about and within contemporary China.

You will also develop the theoretical and methodological skills necessary to pursue further postgraduate research.

This full-time taught masters programme is ideally suited to students with a good first degree in any subject and a strong interest in contemporary China.

It is suitable for both UK and non-UK students, including those from China.

Key facts

  • This course offers you the chance to apply for and complete an internship for up to three months in China or the UK
  • In the latest Research Excellence Framework, 98% of our research was rated as 'world-leading', 'internationally excellent' or 'recognised internationally'
  • The School of Contemporary Chinese Studies houses the highly-regarded China Policy Institute, which promotes scholarly exchange and dialogue through its network of China experts and policy makers
  • The school collaborates closely with the Nottingham Confucius Institute which promotes the teaching of Chinese language and culture in the UK

Course Details

The MA Contemporary Chinese Studies is taught on a full-time basis over one year. 

Over the first two semesters, you will be required to take 120 credits' worth of modules. 

During the summer term, you will be expected to complete a 12,000-word dissertation (worth 60 credits). Alternatively, you have the exciting opportunity to apply for an internship which would culminate in the production of a final 12,000 word report (worth 60 credits).  


Core modules

Students must choose either: 


The module requires students to produce an independent piece of research in the format of a dissertation on a self-selected topic related to China, and with substantial analysis based on evidence from desk-reviews or data/information collected from secondary or primary sources.

Qualitative, quantitative, or mixed methods are all acceptable.

This module aims to:

  • allow students the opportunity to complete a substantive piece of research and writing on the area of contemporary Chinese studies or business, management and finance in China


Internship Report

This module is for postgraduate students who may be placed in an internship with an organisation in China or in the UK during which they will develop, carry out and write up a relevant research project based on the internship, in consultation with their supervisor.

This module aims to:

  • allow students to complete a substantive piece of writing based on an internship conducted in China, or in an organisation with a China focus in the UK

Then the below is mandatory:

Research Design and Practice in China

This module aims to:

  • develop an ability to identify research topics from real world issues
  • develop an ability to formulate researchable questions
  • understand how theories are formulated and how they can be tested in research
  • gain abilities to critique on literature and use literature analytically in writing
  • learn how to target on research objects: sampling and case selection
  • gain fundamental knowledge of research methods: questionnaire survey, design of interview, focus group, participant observation
  • learn how to utilise the knowledge provided to produce a proposal for dissertation or internship

Optional modules

You will choose a maximum of five modules from this group: 

China and Global Capitalism

The module introduces students to key issues in China's engagement with capitalism and globalisation in everyday business, including:

  • theoretical framing of capitalism, globalisation, neoliberalism and China's current economic system
  • practices and connections in business from state owned to private
  • emerging business challenges for China in the 21st century
  • business ramifications of living in global capitalism world

This module aims to:

  • develop students' knowledge and understanding of the theory and practice of various aspects of management in China during the reform era across enterprises in all ownership sectors
China and the World

This module introduces students to the traditional Chinese and the Maoist world views, though it focuses on the changes that have taken place since the start of the reform period.

It explores how domestic politics and other developments have contributed on the one hand to the rise of China as a great power of the first league, and to the emergence of a nineteenth century European type of nationalism on the other. The module also addresses China's use of force in support of foreign policy, as well as its attempts to project soft power. 

This module aims to:

  • engage students to think critically about what is the rightful place for China in the modern world, including why such a question still needs to be raised for a great power that holds the veto at the UN Security Council
Chinese Economic Issues

This module introduces students to different hot topics and cutting-edge research on Chinese economy, and offers a platform for allowing postgraduate students to connect with experts in the field.

Topics vary across the years, including, but not limited to:

  • China's economic growth
  • investment and trade
  • foreign direct investment
  • the financial and banking reform
  • science, technology and innovation
  • regional inequality
  • business management

This module aims to:

  • develop students' knowledge and understanding of key economic issues in China in an era of rapid development and change
Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society

The module introduces students to key concepts in the understanding of contemporary Chinese culture and features of Chinese society, including:

  • continuity and change in the Chinese family
  • rural and urban society
  • chinese youth and generational identity
  • ethnicity and religion in contemporary China
  • the arts and popular culture

This module aims to:

  • develop students' knowledge and understanding of continuity and change in China's society and culture during the reform era

It complements other taught postgraduate modules on China's contemporary history, politics, law, economic development, and business.

EU-China: Trade, Aid and Public Diplomacy in the 21st Century

In this module, students will learn about the state-of-the-art of western engagement with China during the past 35 years (1978-), in particular western trade and development policies towards China and gain insights into the interplay between bilateral and multilateral development agencies and Chinese domestic partner organisations.

Drawing both on primary and secondary sources, students will familiarise themselves with the increasingly lively international debates among Chinese and non-Chinese social and political scientists, educators, media professionals, civil society practitioners, government officials, and lawyers about goals and means of western China engagement. 

This module aims to:

  • equip students with the necessary theoretical and practical skills to analyse western engagement with China
  • encourage students to think critically about the modalities of western development aid and trade policies towards China
  • build an understanding of the scale of European partnerships with China, learning about the value of transparency and accountability in international relations and public diplomacy
Government and Politics of China

This module deals with some key concepts, processes and institutions in contemporary Chinese politics, including:

  • the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) leadership and succession
  • legitimacy and stability in Chinese politics
  • central and local elections
  • political opening and experiments
  • the development of civil society in the reform era
  • social and political life in cities
  • regulation and governing the market
  • the party in transition

This module aims to:

  • develop students' knowledge and understanding of the key concepts, processes, and institutions in Chinese politics during the reform era
Greater China Field School

This module consists of an intensive field study period in Hong Kong, southern China, and Taiwan. This will last for approximately three weeks.

By visiting government agencies, business groups, non-profit organisations, and rural and urban communities, participants will gain a first hand insight into contemporary history, politics, economics, society, culture and language of  the Greater China region.

This module aims to:

  • explore a range of themes and issues relevant for understanding contemporary China
  • contrast academic knowledge with insights of practitioners by visiting organisations in the government, business and civil society sector
  • develop an awareness of the ethical issues related to gathering data
International Development: China, Asia, Africa

This module examines challenges facing China and the main developing regions in the world, ie. most parts of Asia and Africa. 

It looks at international agencies such as the United Nations, the World Bank and the IMF, and North-South and South-South collaborations in promoting socioeconomic developments in the low-income countries. It also introduces methods of cross-country comparative analysis, examines development models from an international perspective, and evaluates socio-economic policies in different regions at both macro and micro levels. 

Topics include:

  • growth, poverty and inequality
  • millennium development goals
  • world bank and IMF: from structural adjustment to poverty reduction
  • labour market policies: immigration and segmentation
  • human development policies: population, health and education
  • international aid
  • north-south trade and employment
  • south-south cooperation
  • China's role in international developmental cooperation

This module aims to:

  • provide students with research-led teaching on the issues of international development, North-South and South-South cooperation, and the inter-linkage between economic development and social and human developments
  • assist students in obtaining an in-depth and evidence-based understanding of international policy-making
  • familiarise students with the different strategic public or social policies adopted by a variety of countries with different political systems, social structures and economic mechanisms
Law, Market and Society in China

The module examines legal developments in China in the context of China's construction of a market economy and of China's participation into globalization since 1978. It focuses on particular aspects of legal development in China's making of a market economy.

This module aims to:

  • develop students' knowledge and understanding of the relationships among state, law and market economy of China in the reform era
Managing International Business in China

This module analyses the basic issues of managing international business in contemporary China, including entry mode selection, alliance management, negotiation with Chinese partners, cross-cultural human resource management, cross-cultural marketing, protection of intellectual property rights, environmental issues and strategic management.

The issues are discussed in the light of the relevant theoretical frameworks and models of international business and management, with reference to current business practices of multinational companies operating in China. 

This module aims to:

  • develop students' ability to apply theoretical frameworks and models to the analysis of practical issues of managing international business in China
  • enhance students' understanding of current business and management practices of multinational companies operating in China
  • foster students' cultural awareness


Students in Contemporary Chinese Studies who are non-native Mandarin speakers can take a maximum of 20 credits of Mandarin language through the University Language Centre's inter-faculty language scheme. You will be tested upon arrival and allocated to the correct level. 

Native Mandarin speakers can take a maximum of 20 credits of Chinese-English translation modules. 

Please note: All module details are subject to change.


Up-to-date fees information can be found on our student fees and finance website.

UK/EU students

The school sometimes offers its own scholarships. University scholarships and external scholarships are also available, please visit the Graduate School website for more information about all the available funding opportunities. 

International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Applications for 2016 entry scholarships will open in late 2015. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.


Some graduates from the MA Contemporary Chinese Studies have embarked on research careers whereas others are currently pursuing careers as diverse as teaching English in rural China and investment banking in Shanghai.

You will have the communication skills necessary to pursue a career in any area that requires an in-depth knowledge of China, and you will be prepared to work in large multi-national corporations operating in China, as well as Chinese companies operating outside of the country. You will also be ideally placed to embark on a research career in universities, research centres, institutes and think tanks around the world.

Our graduates have gone on to work in government and non-governmental agencies, banks, insurance companies, industries, universities and multi-national companies in China, the UK and the rest of the world. Some companies that employ our graduates include:

  • AXA-Minmetals Assurance
  • Bank of China
  • German Centre for Industry and Trade Shanghai
  • HSBC
  • Hudson Highland Group
  • ISoftStone Technology
  • Paragon Law
  • Romax Technology
  • Viaton Industries

Average starting salary and career progression

Availability for employment and salary data for this department is not attainable due to a small sample size.*

* Known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/14.

Career prospects and employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. 

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

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