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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Chinese Studies) is no longer accepting new applications.

The MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Chinese Studies) is an intense one-year course primarily for students who intend to go on to do a PhD in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Chinese Studies) at the University of Cambridge or elsewhere. It is designed for highly motivated future researchers who have a substantial undergraduate background in Chinese Studies or related fields but need more exposure to topic-specific or discipline-based analytical frameworks and more intensive training in primary source language(s) and research skills.

Students admitted for the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Chinese Studies) will have the option to choose from one of the following streams:

(1) Modern and Contemporary Chinese Studies or (2) Pre-Modern Chinese Studies.

With the consent of their supervisor and relevant teachers, students may be permitted to combine papers from options (1) and (2).

Students taking the MPhil in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies (Chinese Studies) choose three papers from either:

(1) Modern and Contemporary Chinese Studies:

REQUIRED: Asia in Theory - [Team taught; theoretical and methodological approaches]

Students then choose TWO optional papers from the following list:

Chinese Literature and Modernity - Topics in Modern Chinese History - The Anthropology of China - Chinese Linguistics - Advanced Readings in Chinese on a relevant subject [e.g., Qing and Republican historical documents, Modern literary texts, Chinese religions, etc] - Alternative Paper (to be arranged with specific instructors).  [An "alternative paper" can be a paper taken from the pre-modern Chinese Studies stream or in another department or faculty (e.g., POLIS, History, Anthropology, Development Studies) in the student's area of research focus.]


(2) Pre-Modern Chinese Studies:

For Pre-Modern Chinese Studies, students need to choose THREE of the following papers:

Classical and Literary Chinese Texts (received and excavated texts, manuscripts) - Early China, specified topic - Medieval China, specified topic - Asia in Theory [team-taught; theoretical and methodological approaches: with the supervisor's permission as the focus of this paper is on the modern period] - Japanese for Sinologists [reading Japanese scholarship on pre-modern China] - Imperial China [specified topic e.g. ritual and religion] - Alternative Paper (to be arranged with specific instructors). [An "alternative paper" can be a paper taken from the modern and contemporary Chinese Studies stream or in another department or faculty (e.g., History, Divinity, Anthropology, Development Studies, POLIS) in the student's area of research focus.]

Most papers are assessed by 5,000-word essays. Some advanced text papers are assessed through examination. Please note that not all papers will be available every year and are subject to modifications if necessary.

A 15,000-word dissertation will also be submitted, and an oral examination on it and the general field of knowledge within which it falls may be held.

Please note that papers are usually only offered if there are at least two takers. Modules offered vary according to the staff available each academic year and the interests of students. Additional papers may be introduced. Please consult your potential supervisor to discuss the options available.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the MPhil programme, students will be expected to have:

  • acquired the ability to read, interpret and translate primary sources in Modern and/or Classical Chinese;
  • acquired a good knowledge of the general scholarship on modern and/or pre-modern Chinese culture(s);
  • acquired an in-depth knowledge of the secondary literature relevant to the subject of their dissertation;
  • developed the ability to formulate original research questions and produce a well-constructed argument to answer them, in the form of an independent piece of research based on the use of primary and secondary sources; and
  • developed independent archival and library- and internet-based research skills concomitant with successful completion of a Masters-level degree in Chinese Studies.


All applicants should submit, via the Applicant Portal, a workable and relevant research proposal and demonstrate that they have the required academic knowledge and skills to carry out their project.

Those students who are enrolled in an MPhil by Advanced Studies at the University of Cambridge and wish to continue to the PhD programme at the Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies will be required to obtain at least 67 per cent overall in their MPhil by Advanced Studies degree and satisfy any pre-existing requirements also set by the Degree Committee, i.e. English language requirement. The prospective PhD supervisor may also set additional criteria when deemed necessary (e.g., a particular grade for a particular paper or for the MPhil dissertation).

Admission is at the discretion of the Degree Committee, which judges each applicant on their own merits and in accordance with its own set of rules and regulations.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.

Key Information

11 months full-time

Study Mode : Taught

Master of Philosophy

Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
May 16, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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