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2023/24 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

EAST2126 Classical Chinese

20 creditsClass Size: 25

Module manager: Dr David Pattinson

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2023/24

Pre-requisite qualifications

Successful completion of the Year Abroad in China or equivalent

This module is mutually exclusive with

EAST3120Classical Chinese

This module is not approved as a discovery module

Module summary

Through reading selected works of prose and poetry, students will learn the fundamentals of Classical Chinese grammar, syntax and vocabulary, and develop a basic appreciation of the richness of the Chinese literary tradition. The syllabus will cover a selection of major genres in which the classical language was used over time. Students are also expected to read related texts in English translation and scholarship about the texts and genres being studied. They will also gain a basic understanding of the research tools available for studying Classical Chinese texts.


On completion of this module students should have a basic knowledge of the structure and vocabulary of Classical Chinese. They should be able to read selected important texts in Classical and literary Chinese and may have the potential to read further.

Students should also gain a broad understanding of the classical Chinese scholarly and literary tradition, the role of the works they have read in it, scholarly discussion in relationship to it, and its significance in modern China.

Learning outcomes
Upon completing this module, students will:
1. be equipped to read certain types of texts in classical and literary Chinese with the help of annotations, dictionaries and other reference resources;
2. be familiar with common grammatical particles and structures used in classical and literary Chinese and, where applicable, be able to make links to their use in modern Chinese;
3. appreciate some of the range of genres and subject matter of classical Chinese texts, and the contexts in which they were produced;
4. have developed awareness of the challenges of translating from Classical Chinese into English.


Texts to be read over the course of this module may include: prose texts from the classical and imperial period philosophical/religious, political and historiographical traditions – essays, travel accounts, letters, notebooks and other miscellanies from the later literary tradition – poetry from the Six Dynasties, Tang and Song periods, possibly supplemented by earlier or later poetry. In the course of this reading, students will learn: basic Classical Chinese grammatical structures and syntax – essential contextual knowledge for the texts being read – how to use common reference tools for Classical Chinese language, literature and history. Students will also gain some experience of analysing translations from Classical Chinese into English.

Teaching methods

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours171.00
Total Contact hours28.50
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)199.50

Private study

Studying Classical Chinese is enjoyable and rewarding, but it requires regular applied study to master. In line with the number of credits, students should expect to spend at least ten hours per week preparing and reviewing the class texts, in addition to time spent researching and writing the literature review (1 x supervision meeting) and preparing for the examination.

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Students are offered half an hour of supervision for their essays analysing existing translations from Classical Chinese into English. This can include reading partial drafts. Language feedback is offered as part of class reading.

Methods of assessment

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay1,500-word analysis of existing translation(s)40.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)40.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Exam typeExam duration% of formal assessment
Standard exam (closed essays, MCQs etc)3 hr 00 mins60.00
Total percentage (Assessment Exams)60.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 02/08/2023


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