Russian and Contemporary Chinese Studies BA


Fact file - 2019 entry

BA Jt Hons Russian and Contemporary Chinese Studies
UCAS code
4 years full-time/year 3 out (available part-time)
A level offer
Required subjects
Russian at A level
IB score
32; 5 in Russian at Higher level or 6 at Standard Level (B Programme) 
Course location
University Park Campus 
Course places
20 (across RT11, RT21, RT71 and RT41)


This course combines studies in Russian and Chinese literatures, histories and cultures. As well as learning the languages of Russian and Mandarin, you also have the chance to study Serbian/Croatian.
Read full overview

This course combines studies in Russian and Chinese languages, literatures, histories and cultures. Alongside your courses in Russian and Mandarin, you will choose from a wide range of modules in Russian and Chinese history, culture and society, which begin at introductory level and become more specialised as the course progresses. The breadth of research expertise in these subjects means we are able to offer our students an exceptionally broad choice. The year abroad gives you a unique opportunity to practise your language skills and enhance your understanding of Russian and Chinese cultures. Additionally, we offer all students the chance to learn Serbian/Croatian.

Year one

Your core language module in Russian will consolidate and build on the grammatical knowledge and skills you acquired at A level. Your studies in Russian language will be complemented by the core module Nation, Myth, Identity, which introduces key areas, concepts and skills in Russian and Slavonic histories, literatures and cultures, and you will also choose an optional module in Russian history or literature, or one introducing the study of South-East Europe. In Contemporary Chinese Studies you will take intensive modules in Mandarin, alongside introductory modules in contemporary Chinese society, economy and culture. All students have the option of taking part in a special subsidised language course in Russia in the summer vacation.

Year two

In Russian and Chinese, your language studies will be consolidated to prepare you for the year abroad. You will take modules in history, culture and society in both Russian and Chinese studies. You may choose to begin studying Serbian/Croatian as a second Slavonic language.

Year three

The year abroad is divided between Russia, where you will participate in a study placement at one of our partner universities or a language school, and China, where you will also concentrate on studying the languages. Students benefit from the chance to spend a semester at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo, China. 

For more information see our Year Abroad pages.

Year four

You will develop your command of both languages and their use in increasingly sophisticated contexts, including those focused on applied and career-related contexts. You will also choose optional modules drawn from the areas of language, literature, history, culture. Students may opt to continue or to begin the study of a second Slavonic language.

More information 

See also the Modern Langauges and Cultures website.


Entry requirements

A levels: ABB, including Russian at A level

English language requirements 

IELTS 7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If you require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional course at the Centre for English Language Education, which is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

Students who successfully complete the presessional course to the required level can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking IELTS or equivalent.

Alternative qualifications 

We recognise that potential students have a wealth of different experiences and follow a variety of pathways into higher education, so we treat applicants with alternative qualifications (besides A-levels and the International Baccalaureate) as individuals, and accept students with a range of less conventional qualifications including:

  • Access to HE Diploma
  • Advanced Diploma
  • BTEC Extended Diploma

This list is not exhaustive, and we consider applicants with other qualifications on an individual basis. The entry requirements for alternative qualifications can be quite specific; for example you may need to take certain modules and achieve a specified grade in those modules. Please contact us to discuss the transferability of your qualification.

For more information, please see the alternative qualifications page.

Flexible admissions policy

In recognition of our applicants’ varied experience and educational pathways, the University of Nottingham employs a flexible admissions policy. We may make some applicants an offer lower than advertised, depending on their personal and educational circumstances. Please see the University’s admissions policies and procedures for more information.  


The following is a sample of the typical modules that we offer as at the date of publication but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and the module information in this prospectus is provided for indicative purposes only.

Typical year one modules


Russian 1

You will consolidate and develop the knowledge of Russian which you gained at A level. This module focuses on practical application of your language skills, including reading, writing, comprehension and oral communication. You will also study some grammar topics in depth. You’ll spend four hours per week in practical classes workshops and tutorials, benefiting from experienced teachers, most of whom are native speakers, and the use of excellent language laboratory facilities.


Nation, Myth, Identity: Introduction to Russian and Slavonic Studies

This module introduces students to important areas and topics in Russian and Slavonic studies, examining important aspects of the histories and cultures of the region, as well as aspects of the languages, cultures and literary traditions. You will learn to analyse a wide range of cultural phenomena, including pictures, music, film, literary texts and other kinds of written sources.


Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1A


This module provides you with a foundation in Chinese phonetics, grammar and vocabulary in order to develop your competence in Mandarin Chinese. The focus is on communicative competence in both spoken and written language, and you will begin thorough training in use of the Mandarin Chinese script. As well as equipping you with skills in the language, the module also informs you about Chinese culture and society.



Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1B


This module builds on the knowledge you acquired in semester 1, introducing post-elementary grammatical structures and the phonology of Mandarin Chinese. You will learn to write notes, simple letters and a diary, as well as to use more diverse basic vocabulary for social and everyday situations. You will continue to expand your knowledge of contemporary society and culture.



Introduction to Contemporary China

This is an introductory course designed to provide students with an overview of contemporary China and help students establish a foundation of knowledge and skills to pursue more advanced studies of China in their later years of study. You will examine a variety of topics such as Chinese economy and politics, security and foreign relations, and Chinese media since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949 with particular attention paid to the changes in China since 1978. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week.



From Tsarism to Communism: Introduction to Russian History and Culture

This module introduces you to the development of Russian history and culture, starting with the reign of Peter the Great (1682-1725), following the development of Russia into a modern state through to the end of the 19th century, and ending with a survey of the Bolshevik Revolution and the Soviet period (1917-1991). Alongside the history of Russia, you will study aspects of Russian culture relevant to different periods of its history such as painting, architecture, music, folklore and religious beliefs. You will have three hours per week in lectures and seminars. 

Modern Russian Literature: Texts, Contexts, Approaches

This year-long module introduces Russian literature of the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries through study of texts by canonical writers such as Pushkin, Gogol, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, Chekhov, Zamiatin, Bulgakov and Akhmatova, as well as by some exciting contemporary authors. Alongside insights into the changing culture of Russia over this dynamic period of history, the module equips students with skills for analysing and discussing prose, poetry and drama.

The Clash of Empires: Introduction to Balkan Cultural Identities

This module introduces you to the cultural history of the South Slavs and the legacy of great empires such as the Ottomans, and the Habsburgs on the Balkan peninsula. By focusing on the visual cultures of the three key religious traditions – Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Islamic – the module explores the common features and differences in alphabet, architecture, sculpture and painting across the region. You will learn how living under empires informed the self-understanding of Serbs, Croats, Bosniaks and other South Slav nations. 


Introduction to Business and Economy of China

This module intends to provide the fundamental knowledge of China's economic transformation and business development. It assists you to establish an understanding of issues including economic strategies, industrial sector transformation, investment, trade and business management.


Introduction to the Chinese Legal System

Studying this module you will gain an introduction to the origin, key elements and characteristics of the evolving Chinese legal system including the history of Chinese law, the organization of the People’s Republic of China as a state and its constitutional laws, the law making process in China, the legal institutions and the Chinese court system, the criminal process, and the civil process and legal profession in China. For this module you will have a one 2-hour lecture each week. 

Typical year two modules


Russian 2

This module will help you to develop your comprehension of Russian and your communicative skills, including reading, oral fluency in Russian, and translation from Russian into English. The module also includes some writing in Russian and study of more sophisticated grammar topics. You’ll spend three hours per week in practical classes.


Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level (2A)


This module consolidates the skills you have acquired in the first year and further develops your oral and written communicative ability in Mandarin, introducing its use in more complex situations and broadening your vocabulary. A range of activities, including listening exercises, discussion, reading comprehension and producing short written texts, will improve your fluency and confidence.



Mandarin Chinese for the Intermediate Level (2B)


This module further develops your use of and confidence with Mandarin in increasingly complex situations, in preparation for your year abroad. Teaching continues to focus on the four key skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing, and takes place in Mandarin wherever possible. By the end of the module you will have firm knowledge of Mandarin at intermediate level.




Screening Russia: Film and Society from the Tsars to Putin

In this module you will acquire an in-depth understanding of developments in Russian society and culture as reflected in popular and influential films from around 1900 to the present day. You’ll examine how films are constructed technically and develop skills in analysing cinema in its historical and social contexts. You’ll spend two hours per week in lectures and seminars.


Repression and Resistance: Dissidents and Exiles in Russian Culture

This module provides you with an introduction to the themes of dissidence and exile, central notions in Russian literature, culture and thinking, using the examples of the life and work of four major Russian writers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries (Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Nabokov, Bulgakov). You will learn the theory of different literary forms such as verse narrative, novel, short story and drama.

The World of Orthodox Sainthood

You’ll gain an understanding of the growth and development of the cult of saints in the Eastern Christian world in the context of the history and culture of late antiquity and the middle ages. In particular, you’ll learn to interpret original written sources and icons and will master the basic tools for conducting research in the field, spending around three hours in lectures and seminars each week. 

Serbian and Croatian Literature 

You’ll examine major literary movements in Serbia and Croatia during the 20th century, from Modernism to the socially engaged literature of the 1930s, Socialist Realism, literary politics under the Communists in Yugoslavia and the emergence of critical literature in the 1980s and 1990s. You’ll also undertake a textual analysis of representative works from 20th century literature; for example, works by Milos Crnjanski, Ivo Andrić, Miroslav Krleža, Danilo Kiš and Slobodan Selenić. You’ll spend around two hours per week studying in lectures and seminars.

History of Yugoslavia and Successor States since 1941

The aim of this module is to examine developments in the political, social and diplomatic history of Yugoslavia after 1941 leading towards an understanding of the reasons behind the collapse of the country and subsequent violence in the 1990s. You’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars studying for this module.


The Rise of Modern China

In this module you will study the history of China from the 1840s, through to the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949. You will focus in particular on the ways in which Chinese society responded to the arrival of ‘modernity’ in the form of the Western powers and Japan throughout the period in question, but also how different groups in China tried to remould or redefine China as a ‘modern’ nation-state and society. In this module you will have a two-hour lecture each week.


 Chinese Society and Economy

This module focuses on the political and social structure of contemporary China, from the perspectives of the state, society, families and individuals. The topics covered are organised around an understanding of the role in society and the economy of such concepts as trust, Guanxi (social relations) and social capital. You will also examine the rural-urban divide, nationhood, identity, and ethnicity.

  • International Political Economy 

The study of International Political Economy is essentially interdisciplinary, based on the premise that the political and economic domains are inextricably intertwined in the international system. You will learn the main approaches to International Political Economy, related to a conceptual as well as empirical engagement with the history of, and recent changes in, areas such as international trade, global finance, transnational production and development related to the North-South problematic. For this module you will have one two-hour lecture and one one-hour seminar each week.


Chinese Business Law

The module aims to provide an overview of the development of Chinese business law in the context of economic globalization and in particular of China's WTO membership. Topics covered business regulation in China and China's WTO membership; the Chinese legal system, contract law and company law and corporate governance in China, and the impact of China’s integration into economic globalisation. 


Social Change and Public Policy in China's Reform Era

In this module you will learn how the Chinese central government has responded to socio-economic changes by issuing a number of key policy initiatives, most notably in the field of social security, health, education, labour, innovation and the environment. In the first part of the module participants will be sensitized about the interplay between socio-economic transformation, administrative reform and public policy making during China's reform era (1978).

In the second part of the module students will learn about the expanded spaces for participatory policy making in China by analysing case studies in all five substantive policy fields. As part of their course assignments students will be asked to write one 3,000 word essay and put insights into practice by developing group presentations on a selected public policy. 


Students also have the option of beginning study of Serbian/Croatian or Slovene.


Year three

The year abroad is divided between Russia, where you will participate in a study placement at one of our partner universities or a language school, and China, where you will also concentrate on studying the languages. Students benefit from the chance to spend a semester at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo, China. 

For more information see our Year Abroad pages.

Typical year four modules


Russian 3
Through this module you’ll develop a high level of Russian language skills, both written and spoken. The written skills include English-Russian and Russian-English translation, business Russian, summaries and creative writing in Russian. Oral presentations d year abroad. You’ll also cover advanced grammar topics of Russian. You will spend three hours per week in practical classes and workshops.
Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A

The final year Mandarin Chinese course will develop your communicative competence in Mandarin Chinese in both spoken and written language to a high level. The module follows on from your work during your time abroad, enabling you to further improve your ability to employ your language skills in everyday formal and informal situations and across a broad range of contemporary applications.

Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3B
This module follows on from Mandarin Chinese for the Advanced Level 3A, further consolidating your grammatical knowledge and your skills in expressing yourself in different real-life situations. You will improve your abilities to communicate in a range of registers and tackle issues involved in translating between Mandarin and English.


Russian Popular Music in the 20th and 21st Centuries

The module offers an in-depth study of the development of popular music in Russia in the 20th and 21st centuries. You will gain knowledge of the popular musical culture of the late tsarist, Soviet and post-Soviet eras, and learn to analyse songs and performances using such concepts as authorship, performance, technology and ideology. You will have one lecture and one two-hour seminar per week on this module.


History of the Byzantine Empire, c. 300-1453

This module offers advanced study of the history of the Byzantine Empire from the reign of Constantine I to the fall of Constantinople. The course is structured chronologically, focusing on particular themes for each period: religion and heresy in late antiquity; warfare and the arts in middle Byzantium; and politics and international relations in late Byzantium. In an average week you’ll spend around three hours in lectures and seminars on this module.

Nabokov’s Fiction

This module examines the life and work of Vladimir Nabokov, one of the most important writers of twentieth-century Russian literature. The main focus is on Nabokov’s works from his Russian-language period (1919-40), but examples of his later work written in English (1940-77) are also studied.

Myths and Memories: Histories of Russia's Second World War

This module introduces you to the construction of national and collective memory of the Second World War in Soviet and Russian culture and society. You’ll focus on contemporary and subsequent artistic and social responses to the experience of war, but also look at individual acts of remembering diaries, reports and letters in the context of a wider cultural memory. The module is conducted in English and you’ll spend around three hours per week in lectures and seminars.

Serbian/Croatian for Linguists

This module is a fast-track course of study for students in their final year who wish to acquire a new language. The module is based on the textbook Teach Yourself Serbian and will introduce you to everyday use of the language. Through three hours of practical classes each week, you’ll study different points of grammar (syntax and morphology) as well as vocabulary for everyday situations.

Slovene for Linguists

This module is a fast-track course of study for students in their final year who wish to acquire a new language. It develops aural comprehension and oral communication based on information acquired, and enables students to translate simple texts from and into Slovene. The module is taught by a native speaker and is based on a textbook, supported by additional materials.

Russian Interpreting

This module will introduce you to different forms, modes, and models of interpreting as well as the issues that are often encountered by professional interpreters. It will offer opportunities to explore the different techniques/skills required for both simultaneous and consecutive interpretation. The module is seminar-led in order to maximise practice in class with two hours of both lectures and practicals weekly. The main difficulties of interpreting will be examined, along with strategies to deal with them.


Dissertation/Long Essay in Russian and Slavonic Studies

Working closely with a supervisor who teaches and researches in a relevant field, final year students carry out in-depth research into a topic of their choice, building on work they have done in a module studied in year 2 or the final year. Areas of study include history, literature, cinema, music and religion. Recent topics selected for Long Essays and Dissertations include Mongol rule in medieval Russia, the poetic mythology of Mayakovsky and adaptations of US comedies for Russian television.   


Communicating and Teaching Languages for Undergraduate Ambassadors

This module is part of the nationwide Undergraduate Ambassadors Scheme (UAS) which works with universities to provide academic modules that enable students to go into local schools as teaching assistants and to act as role-models (for more information please check Students split their time between the university-based support seminar and their allocated school, where they will work in the language department as an assistant. This may involve one-to-one tuition, small group teaching or extra-curricular activities in the context of the school’s language provision. Students will develop a special teaching project and will be supported in their activities by the module convenor, the education specialist on campus, and their contact teacher at the school. Typically there will be a fortnightly seminar on campus and seven half-days spent at school.  

  • China from Revolution to Socialism

This module focuses on China from the Communist Revolution in the 1920s through the pre-reform era (1921-1978), examining how China was organised and governed, changes in rural and urban society, the family, the economy and the Chinese workplace under the socialist period (1949-1978). Major topics covered include:

  • The CCP's rise to power
  • The transformation of rural and urban society post-1949
  • The Great Leap Forward and subsequent famine
  • In-depth analysis of all phases of the Cultural Revolution
  • Return to power of the pragmatists and the beginning of reform
  • Changing views of Mao as a leader

China through Film and Literature

In this module you will first examine the close linkage between literature and cinema in China and the consequences and then explore trends in modern Chinese literature and cinema, with a primary focus on different genres and themes developed since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. By placing Chinese literature and film within their cultural, social and historical contexts, you will analyse, interpret and appreciate such phenomena. You will analyse individual texts in translation and films with English subtitles to increase your awareness of the major developments in literature and film as they are embedded in the wider changes in contemporary China. You will have one three-hour practical class each week studying this module.


Media and Communications in Globalising China

Media systems are critically important in any modern political system, and this module leads you directly to the heart of understanding how the media relates to contemporary society and politics in the People’s Republic of China. It introduces you to the unprecedented transformation in contemporary Chinese media and communication in the context of economic reforms, development of new media technologies and globalisation through a two hour weekly lecture.

Religion in Modern China

This module examines Chinese religion as a social phenomenon, and provides an overview of the officially-recognised belief systems comprising China’s religious landscape. It focuses on the doctrines, practices and institutions of different religious groups, while also considering the unofficial traditions that play an important role in modern Chinese religiosity. Major topics covered include Buddhism, Daoism, Islam, Protestantism and Christianity, folk belief and new religious movements, China’s ongoing Confucian revival and the political dimension of religion in China. 

  • China's Political Economy 

This module examines the interaction between politics and economy in China during the economic reform period from 1978 onward. Particular attention will be given to the progress and periods of China’s reform, the political context of major economic policies, reform of major aspects of the economy, evolution of economic institutions, as well as an overview of economic development in China prior to 1978. The module will highlight the role of the political factors and state policies in China’s economy, which is important for a good understanding of the reform and economic development in China. For this module you will have one two-hour lecture each week.


Government and Politics of Taiwan and Hong Kong: Alternatives to Leninism

In this module you’ll learn about the two countries that choose a different pathway from mainland China whilst still under the leadership of the communist party. You’ll address a number of questions in order to gain a good understanding of the processes of these unique countries and be able to critically reflect on their differences with mainland China. You’ll have two hours of lectures weekly studying this module.


Dynamics of regional economic development: China, Japan and ASEAN

East Asia is one of the world’s most dynamic and diverse regions. This module explores the various aspects of East Asia’s regional political economy with special reference to the influence of China. Key themes include regional organisations, international business, cities and infrastructure, environment, international migration, energy security, international development, trade, finance and geopolitics.


Year abroad

The year abroad is divided between Russia, on a study placement with one of our partner universities or language schools, and China, where you will also spend your time studying. Students benefit from the chance to spend a semester at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo, China. 

For more information see our Year Abroad pages.



By the end of this course you will have attained a high level of expertise in Russian, an advanced level in Mandarin and a broad knowledge of the culture and history of China and Russia. Your international experience will prove to employers that you are adaptable and independent, and your transferable skills will include critical analysis and effective communication.

Average starting salary and career progression

In 2016, 94.2% of undergraduates in the School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,336 with the highest being £31,000.* 

Known destinations of full-time home undergraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Careers support and advice

Studying for a degree at the University of Nottingham will provide you with the type of skills and experiences that will prove invaluable in any career, whichever direction you decide to take. Throughout your time with us, our Careers and Employability Service can work with you to improve your employability skills even further; assisting with job or course applications, searching for appropriate work experience placements and hosting events to bring you closer to a wide range of prospective employers.

Have a look at our careers page for an overview of all the employability support and opportunities that we provide to current students.  


Fees and funding

Scholarships and bursaries

The University of Nottingham offers a wide range of bursaries and scholarships. These funds can provide you with an additional source of non-repayable financial help. For up to date information regarding tuition fees, visit our fees and finance pages.

Home students*

Over one third of our UK students receive our means-tested core bursary, worth up to £2,000 a year. Full details can be found on our financial support pages.

* A 'home' student is one who meets certain UK residence criteria. These are the same criteria as apply to eligibility for home funding from Student Finance.

International/EU students

Our International Baccalaureate Diploma Excellence Scholarship is available for select students paying overseas fees who achieve 38 points or above in the International Baccalaureate Diploma. We also offer a range of High Achiever Prizes for students from selected countries, schools and colleges to help with the cost of tuition fees. Find out more about scholarships, fees and finance for international students.


Key Information Sets (KIS)

KIS is an initiative that the government has introduced to allow you to compare different courses and universities.


This course contains a period of study or work abroad between the second and final year of the degree programme. Students' language skills and cultural understanding are assessed through a mix of presentations and written assignments upon their return to Nottingham. 

Mandarin is compulsory when students spend their second semester at Ningbo Campus.

How to use the data

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


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