Master’s program “Chinese Studies”

Degree AwardedMaster of Arts
Programme Duration2 years, full time
ECTS Requirements120 (57 semester hours)
Application Deadline15th March each year
Start DateSeptember each year
Language of InstructionEnglish, Chinese, Japanese
Stay abroad3rd semester at Peking University
Contact+49 (0)931 31 85971
Please send your application toInstitut für Kulturwissenschaften Ost - und Südasiens - Sinologie
Kommission Chinese Studies
Am Hubland
97074 Würzburg
GuidelinesStyle Sheet for Term Papers and M.A. Theses



This research-oriented Master’s program in Chinese Studies has been developed for graduates of B.A. programs in the Chinese Studies field (holding a B.A. in Sinology, Chinese Studies or equivalent qualification). It offers in-depth and small-group instruction in Chinese Studies by recognized experts in various fields. Students will take classes on both pre-modern and contemporary topics, but will select one of these as their specialization. Students’ preferences for particular topics will be taken into account in determining the content of required elective classes (see below). This enables students to build up their expertise and enables them to undertake their own research in their master thesis. Their research capabilities are strengthened through continuous methodology classes. In addition to providing deep insights into China’s past and present internal dynamics the program equips students with an excellent command of both contemporary Mandarin (advanced level) and Classical Chinese.

Graduates of this program are well-suited for conducting further academic research on China on the PhD level or for a broad array of jobs that require in-depth knowledge of the country’s history and current developments, such as in the cultural, political, social and economic fields.

The Department of Sinology in Würzburg is keen to support students in special living circumstances (e.g. students with children), and to help them realize their study aim.

Program Structure

The program commences every September and takes place both in Würzburg and in Bejing: during the first two semesters students are based in Würzburg; the third semester takes place at Beijing University in China. The final semester is intended for writing the master thesis, again based in Würzburg. The stay abroad at Beijing University is obligatory and integrated into the program so that credit points earned in Beijing are transferred to the University of Würzburg.

The program comprises compulsory language courses and required electives, divided into the following modules:

Compulsory Courses

Since language is the basis for understanding both cultural history and contemporary society, the program pays particular attention to language training. Modern Chinese language courses begin from an advanced level and comprise 12 semester hours over three terms (15 ECTS credit points). Classical Chinese Language courses are made up of 16 semester hours (21 ECTS credit points). Modern Japanese classes account for 9 semester hours (12 ECTS credit points) and Research Methods comprise 5 semester hours (6 ECTS credit points). This intensive and advanced language training allows for continuity of Chinese language practice and therefore meets the need of high-class language proficiency. Classical Chinese and Modern Japanese do not require previous training.


Required Electives

The program proceeds from the insight that studies of China’s cultural history and contemporary developments complement each other: in order to comprehend current social, political and economic trends a basic historical and cultural understanding has to be in place. Likewise, historical events are best treated not as isolated incidents but seen as combinations of heritage and innovation that have repercussions to the modern period. Therefore, the program offers courses in both “Heritage and Innovation” in the pre-modern period as well as “Transformation in Contemporary China.” Students are required to take classes in both fields, but select one as their area of specialization.  After being admitted to the program students are asked to decide on the module they want to focus on during the following two years. Accordingly, their teaching and research will put more weight on either the module “Transformation in Contemporary China” or on the module “Heritage and Innovation.” 
Required Electives (module 5 and 6) account for 18 semester hours (36 ECTS credit points), of which 10 semester hours (20 ECTS) are to be taken in the self-selected field of specialization. In addition, two special compulsory methodology classes will be offered for those students who focus on contemporary topics (“Social Science Research on China”) and historical topics (“Historical Science Research on China”). These classes will familiarize the students with the most common paradigms and theories as well as methodologies in their respective fields of interest in preparation of their own MA thesis. An overview of courses for both the contemporary and pre-modern tracks can be downloaded here.

Module 5: Transformation in Contemporary China

This module comprises research areas on contemporary China. Apart from focussing on the People’s Republic of China, developments in the Republic of China on Taiwan are also taken into account. Students’ preferences are taken into account when deciding on the specific classes for each year.

Module 6: Heritage and Innovation

In this module teaching and research focuses on the period between 800 and 1300 as well as on the period between 1800 and 1949. The terms “Heritage” and “Innovation” clarify cultural as well as societal continuities, and they point to influences taken by internal and external innovative forces. The research areas comprise the following:

  • Heritage and Innovation in the Epoch of Societal and Cultural Transformation (800-1300)
  • Heritage and Innovation in the Epoch of Societal and Cultural Transformation (1200-1600)
  • Intellectual History in the Age of Cultural Transformation (900-1600)
  • Environmental History
  • Popular Culture in China’s History
  • China’s Military History

Entry Requirements

Required application documents:

  • Bachelor’s certificate of a China related degree program with a grade of 1.9 (B) or above (accreditation of comparable degree programs is possible). A copy of the certificate should be handed in together with a copy of the diploma supplement. In case that the Bachelor’s degree has not yet been completed, documentation of the performance in the study program is to be provided.
  • Proof of stays abroad in China or Taiwan
  • CV
  • Letter of Motivation

Each shortlisted applicant will either be invited for a personal or a telephone interview, depending on the applicant’s current place of residence. Only when all application material has been reviewed and subsequent interviews with shortlisted applicants have been conducted, successful candidates will be contacted and asked to decide on the module they want to focus on throughout the master’s program.

Application deadline for admission in September is 15 March each year.

For further inquiries please contact Dr. Michael Leibold (, but make sure to first read the FAQ.