This course is available through clearing

If you already have your exam results, meet the entry requirements and hold no offers, then you can apply to this course now.

Contact the admissions team

If you're waiting for your results, then sign up to our clearing alerts to get all the information you need ahead of results day.

Sign up now

BA Spanish and Chinese / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Coronavirus information for applicants and offer-holders

For the latest updates on how coronavirus will affect applicants and offer-holders, you can visit our FAQs.

Read our latest coronavirus information

Holding an offer for 2020 entry? Visit our dedicated offer-holders page.

Information for offer-holders

Course unit details:
Introduction to Classical Chinese

Unit code CHIN28572
Credit rating 20
Unit level Level 3
Teaching period(s) Semester 2
Offered by Chinese Studies
Available as a free choice unit? Yes


This course, intended for students with an intermediate level of Modern Chinese, introduces the basic grammar and vocabulary of Classical Chinese. Prior to the twentieth century, Classical Chinese was the lingua franca of East Asia, was widely read and written by educated people, and continues to influence present-day language through idiomatic phrases (chengyu) and professional and academic writing. The focus in the course will be on reading classical texts, and although reciting the material aloud can be helpful, class discussions and presentations will be in English with a focus on translating and interpreting the meaning of the texts. Readings will include excerpts from some of the foundational texts of East Asian history, including the Analects, the Mencius, Stratagems of the Warring States, and the Records of the Historian.


  • Introduce students to the essential vocabulary, grammar, and stylistic conventions of literary Chinese
  • Familiarise students with the foundational texts and authors of classical China
  • Provide a general introduction to the intellectual and cultural world of classical China through primary and secondary readings
  • Improve students’ ability to systematically analyse and parse classical and literary Chinese

Teaching and learning methods

Language of Teaching and Assessment

English (Readings and Exercises in Classical Chinese, but discussions, translations and many secondary materials will be om English).



Weekly self-assessed quizzes and additional study materials posted on Blackboard

Knowledge and understanding

  • Show familiarity with essential vocabulary terms and grammatical structures of classical Chinese
  • Read simple passages of classical Chinese text and, with the aid of dictionaries and other tools, work through more complex material
  • Identify and understand the function of classical structures within modern Chinese, thereby enhancing their understanding of the language

Intellectual skills

  • Work through difficult material by using dictionaries, concordances, available translations, and other research tools
  • Analyse the structure of classical Chinese sentences and make decisions about their meaning that inform translations
  • Discuss a range of possible interpretations and their reasons for selecting these interpretations with their peers

Practical skills

  • Think independently and analytically about textual interpretation
  • Express ideas about meaning and context clearly in speech and writing
  • Read difficult texts effectively
  • Collaborate well in groups

Assessment methods

Assessment task

Formative or Summative


Weighting within unit (if summative)

Class Participation




Midterm Exam


1 Hour


Final Exam


2 Hours



Feedback methods

Regular oral feedback during course meetings on assignments in progress

Recommended reading

  • Fuller, Michael A. An Introduction to Literary Chinese. Revised Edition Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2004.
  • Kroll, Paul W., et al., comp. A Student’s Dictionary of Classical and Medieval Chinese. Leiden: Brill, 2015.
  • Pulleyblank, Edwin. Outline of Classical Chinese Grammar. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1996.
  • Rouzer, Paul. A New Practical Primer of Literary Chinese. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2007.
  • Yuan, Naiying, Hai-tao Tang, and James Geiss. Classical Chinese: A Basic Reader in Three Volumes. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2004.

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 22
Seminars 11
Independent study hours
Independent study 167

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Gregory Scott Unit coordinator

Return to course details