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Chinese Characters

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This module is designed for those who want to know about Chinese characters and learn to read and write them.

Knowledge of the basic structures of the Chinese character and their relevant cultural meanings or implications will be discussed. In class, lectures and activities will be organised in such a way that you will get ample opportunity to practise reading and writing Chinese characters.

The purpose is for you to know the basic structures of the character, to identify and use character strokes and units or radicals, and to learn some basic Chinese characters.

You will experience writing characters with a pen or a Chinese brush and typing characters through pinyin and will also be assigned writing tasks to be completed at home.

The following topics will be covered:

  • basic knowledge of the Chinese character
  • Chinese strokes
  • single characters and radicals
  • characters with two or more units
  • characters in contexts.

The course will relate all these to their cultural implications or meanings to facilitate memorisation and understanding.

This course is for students who have no prior knowledge of Chinese or who have learned Chinese for one or two semesters but are able to recognise only a few Chinese characters.

Pre-enrolment is essential.

Not sure which level is right for you? Find your level.

Learning and teaching

The emphasis of the course is on participation and you are encouraged to actively participate in class through various activities designed to stimulate interest and increase confidence to learn.

All course materials provided.

Coursework and assessment

For us the most important element of assessment is that it should enhance your learning. Our methods are designed to motivate and encourage and our ways of assessing you are enjoyable and suitable for adults with busy lives.

To award credits, we need to have evidence of the knowledge and skills you have gained or improved.

Some of this has to be in a form that can be shown to external examiners so that we can be absolutely sure that standards are met across all courses and subjects.

The assessment of this course is divided into two parts to assess reading and writing. It is designed to enhance what you have learnt during the course.

In addition to the class sessions, we recommend that you spend time between the lessons, memorising and practising what has been done in class.

Reading suggestions

  • James W. Heisig, T. W. Richardson. Remembering Traditional Hanzi 1: How Not to Forget the Meaning and Writing of Chinese Characters. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2008.
  • Leyi Li. Tracing the Roots of Chinese Characters: 500 Cases. Beijing: Beijing Language and Culture University Press, 1993.
  • Pengpeng Zhang. The Most Common Chinese Radicals: New Approaches to Learn Chinese. Beijing: Sinolingua Press. 2001.

Library and computing facilities

As a student on this course you are entitled to join and use the University’s library and computing facilities. Find out more about using these facilities.


Our aim is access for all. We aim to provide a confidential advice and support service for any student with a long term medical condition, disability or specific learning difficulty. We are able to offer one-to-one advice about disability, pre-enrolment visits, liaison with tutors and co-ordinating lecturers, material in alternative formats, arrangements for accessible courses, assessment arrangements, loan equipment and dyslexia screening.