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Modern Chinese (BA)

Why study this course


Dual degree

Receive a degree from both Cardiff University and Beijing Normal University.


Immersion in Chinese life

Spend 2 years in China to achieve advanced fluency in Mandarin Chinese and explore Chinese history and modern-day Chinese culture.


A dynamic experience

Learn from native and near-native speakers, with blended learning and digital technologies embedded in teaching and learning activities.


Skills for the future

A structured skills programme embeds academic, transferable and employability skills from the beginning.


Extra-curricular activities

A vibrant programme supports your language learning and immersion into the culture, including conversation classes with exchange students, language cafes and student language societies.

Our 4-year Modern Chinese (BA) programme is delivered through an exciting partnership between Cardiff University and Beijing Normal University, that enables you to develop and enhance your knowledge of the Chinese language – achieving advanced linguistics skills - and a deeper understanding of Chinese culture. You’ll also have the opportunity to study the social, political, historical, and cultural contexts in China. 

During the degree, you’ll foster translation skills, gain professional experience, and develop high-level communication and critical thinking skills.

An integral part of this programme is the opportunity to truly immerse yourself in the Chinese language and culture by spending 2 years living in Beijing. This cultural and linguistic experience will be further enhanced through studying for 2 years at one of China’s premier, double first universities, Beijing Normal University. During your time at Beijing Normal, you will have the opportunity to be taught by expert, native speakers and embrace the experience of studying within a Chinese culture and in the Chinese higher education system. Beyond your academic development, your time at Beijing Normal University will build resilience and independence.

We run 2 language pathways. Those with an A level or equivalent competence in Mandarin Chinese language will take our Upper Elementary pathway. Those with limited or no knowledge of Mandarin Chinese language take our Elementary pathway.

On completion of this programme, you’ll be a confident and independent user of Mandarin Chinese language, able to speak and write fluently and accurately, and read, understand, and analyse complex texts in Mandarin Chinese and in English with assurance.

It’s important to remember that studying Mandarin Chinese is not just about the language itself, it involves the integrated study of language, culture, and society. Our BA Modern Chinese programme offers challenging and stimulating modules with a strong emphasis on cultural diversity and celebrates cultural and linguistic mobility.  

Languages open doors to a variety of career paths and our aim is for you to become a ‘global citizen’ who thinks critically, understands cultural diversity, and a wealth of transferable skills.

Subject area: Modern languages and translation

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 0824
  • MarkerCathays, Cardiff, CF10 3AS

Entry requirements

We accept a combination of A-levels and other qualifications, as well as equivalent international qualifications subject to entry requirements. Typical offers are as follows:

A level

AAB-ABB. If you have grade B in Mandarin Chinese language at A level you will have access to the Mandarin Chinese Advanced pathway.

Extended/International Project Qualification: Applicants with grade A in the EPQ/IPQ will typically receive an offer one grade lower than the standard offer. Please note that any subject specific requirements must still be met.

Our grade range covers our standard offer and contextual offer. We carefully consider the circumstances in which you've been studying (your contextual data) upon application.

  • Eligible students will be given an offer at the lower end of the advertised grade range.
  • Where there is no grade range advertised and/or where there are selection processes in place (like an interview) you may receive additional points in the selection process or be guaranteed interview/consideration.

Learn about eligible courses and how contextual data is applied.

International Baccalaureate

34-32 overall or 666-665 in 3 HL subjects. If you have grade 6 in HL Mandarin Chinese language you will have access to the Mandarin Chinese Advanced pathway.

Baccalaureate Wales

From September 2023, there will be a new qualification called the Advanced Skills Baccalaureate Wales (level 3). This qualification will replace the Advanced Skills Challenge Certificate (Welsh Baccalaureate). The qualification will continue to be accepted in lieu of one A-Level (at the grades listed above), excluding any specified subjects.

You must have or be working towards:
- English language or Welsh language at GCSE grade C/4 or an equivalent (such as A-levels). If you require a Student visa, you must ensure your language qualification complies with UKVI requirements.

We do not accept Critical Thinking, General Studies, Citizenship Studies, or other similar equivalent subjects.

We will accept a combination of BTEC subjects, A-levels, and other qualifications, subject to the course specific grade and subject requirements.


Grade C or grade 4 in GCSE English Language.

IELTS (academic)

At least 6.5 overall with a minimum of 5.5 in each subskill.


At least 90 overall with a minimum of 17 for writing, 17 for listening, 18 for reading, and 20 for speaking.

PTE Academic

At least 69 overall with a minimum of 59 in all communicative skills.

Trinity ISE II/III

II: at least two Distinctions and two Merits.
III: at least a Pass in all components.

Other accepted qualifications

Please visit our English Language requirements page for more information on our other accepted language qualifications.

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement, including the ability to travel to outside of the UK or to undertake a placement/studies outside of Cardiff University
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Other qualifications from inside the UK


DDD-DDM in a BTEC Extended Diploma in Arts, Humanities, Science, and Social Science subjects. If you have grade B in Mandarin Chinese language at A level in combination with or in addition to the BTEC you will have access to the Mandarin Chinese Advanced pathway.

T level

D in a T Level in any subject.

Qualifications from outside the UK

See our qualification equivalences guide

Please see our admissions policies for more information about the application process.

Tuition fees for 2025 entry

Your tuition fees and how you pay them will depend on your fee status. Your fee status could be home, island or overseas.

Learn how we decide your fee status

Fees for home status

The University reserves the right to increase tuition fees in the second and subsequent years of a course as permitted by law or Welsh Government policy. Where applicable we will notify you of any change in tuition fee by the end of June in the academic year before the one in which the fee will increase.

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

If you are an EU, EEA or Swiss national, your tuition fees for 2025/26 be in line with the overseas fees for international students, unless you qualify for home fee status. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Fees for island status

Learn more about the undergraduate fees for students from the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man.

Fees for overseas status

Additional costs

In addition to your course tuition fees, you’ll need to pay a visa application fee, a Beijing Normal University application fee (including medical examination) and travel expenses to and from China. Accommodation costs for each semester in China will have to be paid for in full on arrival. You will also have general day to day living expense costs for the two years you will be studying in in Beijing (such as food, internet charges, mobile phone plans, public transport). 

You will also be responsible for the cost of books and other course materials.


We have a range of residences to suit your needs and budget. Find out more on our accommodation pages.

Living costs

We're based in one of the UK's most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Course structure

Our BA in Modern Chinese is a 4-year programme, divided across both Cardiff University and Beijing Normal University. It’s a unique and exciting opportunity to explore your interest in China and its culture. 

You’ll spend year 1 and 4 (your final years) in Cardiff and year 2 and 3 in Beijing. In each year of the programme, you’ll study 120 credits.

Before going to China, you’ll acquire a thorough grounding in Chinese history and culture as well as linguistic skills. While in Beijing, you’ll take part in classroom studies and undertake professional practice activities that aim to enhance your linguistic consolidation as well as research skills. Professional practice will explore the Chinese  business or cultural sector, ranging from education, private art galleries, book publishers, media design companies to state opera houses. 

The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2025/2026 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2025.

Year one

Year 1 is designed to equip you with the essential skills and knowledge that will form the foundation of your degree. You’ll take one Mandarin Chinese language module and two Chinese cultural-historical modules, plus two optional modules.

The first year provides a thorough foundation in the grammar of the language for students on the elementary pathway and develops the linguistic skills for students on the upper elementary pathway.

Year two: Sandwich year

Your second year will be spent studying at Beijing Normal University, enabling you to develop your language skills, deepen your understanding of the culture and develop your independence, resourcefulness and resilience. Your time studying abroad will give you a level of self-confidence and maturity that has proven popular with employers.

Throughout your second year, you’ll continue to learn Mandarin Chinese. You’ll also study Modern China, Chinese History, Media, Politics, Economics and Culture via a variety of modules. There is also a requirement to take one Tai Chi module during this year. Tai Chi is a form of gentle exercise and moving meditation, aimed to benefit your mental and physical health on the programme, alongside your academic studies.

The language elements of year 2 build on the work undertaken in year 1. You’ll have advanced from the level of your year 1 language module, and you should see how your linguistic abilities, cultural awareness and overall confidence as a language user keep growing. You’ll advance your linguistic skills by studying language modules at a more advanced level. These modules prepare you to progress into your third year of study, still at Beijing Normal University.

By the end of year 2, you will be able to engage in brief discussions and produce connected and coherent pieces of writing about person interests and daily life experiences, expressing your impressions, feelings, concerns and wishes. You will also be able to demonstrate an understanding of Chinese history, culture, philosophy and politics with awareness of intercultural differences.

Any student who undertakes a study placement in China is currently eligible to apply for Welsh Government Funding.

Students who do not have citizenship rights in the relevant country must acquire a visa in order to study abroad. The School of Modern Languages has no control or influence over the Visa application processes but will work with you to support and guide you in your preparations for visa applications and for your travel to study in China. Further information about the Visa process can be found on the Chinese Embassy website.

Year three: Sandwich year

You’ll continue your studies at Beijing Normal University during year 3, with the opportunity to choose modules on topics such as History, Cities and Villages in China, internet Culture in China, Chinese Popular Culture and Business Chinese.

During this year, you’ll also undertake professional practice activities, which may include an opportunity to undertake a placement at a variety of institutions ranging from multinational companies to cultural organisations. Beijing Normal University also organises teaching placements in Chinese villages as part of its civic mission, and this can be taken as a work placement.

By the end of year 3, you will be able to understand, speak, write and complete translations in Chinese confidently to upper-elementary level (CEFR B2). You will also be able to construct a comprehensive overview of contemporary China, taking into account cultural differences and applying intercultural sensitivity.

Year four

When we welcome you back to Cardiff in your final year, you’ll develop your linguistic, critical thinking and research skills further.

You’ll study a Contemporary Chinese Culture and Society module using your acquired advanced Chinese language skills.

You’ll also be required to write a dissertation from a pre-selected list of subjects/topics agreed between Cardiff University and Beijing Normal University.

In addition, you’ll choose two optional modules in Chinese cultural studies and have the opportunity to take part in our very popular teaching module. This is an accredited module where you’ll build on study and workshops at the university to undertake a teaching placement at one of our partner schools in the area.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

Learning and assessment

We employ a range of teaching methods including lectures, seminars, language classes, and workshops. 

Lecture content provides an overview of the key concepts and frameworks for a topic, equipping you with the skills to carry out independent research for the seminars and to develop and try out your own ideas. These materials may be delivered to you in face-to-face format or provided in a digital format so that you can study them at your own pace and convenience.

Seminars are interactive classes that consist of a small group of students and a member of the module teaching team. They may take various formats, including plenary group discussion, small group work and student-led presentations. Seminars provide a dynamic environment in which you can explore and critically engage with the ideas and debates outlined in lectures. 

Our language teaching focuses on active learning and meaningful student participation. Ample opportunities are provided to regularly practise and develop the key language competencies and skills. Classes are designed to expand your linguistic proficiency and enhance your confidence and communication skills in a friendly and supportive environment. 

Class preparation and independent study form a key part of your learning. Between classes, you’ll prepare material, evidence and arguments, and complete language tasks individually or in groups. To support your independent language learning, the School of Modern Languages has developed a bank of recommended language learning resources and activities, which you are encouraged to engage with as part of your independent learning portfolio. 

How will I be supported?

You’ll be guided through your studies by a Personal Tutor, who is able to advise you on academic issues. If you encounter any problems which affect your studies, your personal tutor should always be your first point of contact. You’ll meet with your personal tutor twice during your first and final year when while based in Cardiff, but you’re encouraged to get in touch with them at any other time if you need help or advice. All academic staff have designated hours where they are available to meet with students.  

During your 2 years of study at Beijing Normal University, you’ll be assigned a Year Abroad Coordinator, who will keep in touch with you and monitor your progress.

Each module has its own dedicated space on the Cardiff University Virtual Learning Environment where you’ll be guided through the weekly activities and tasks you need to complete. You’ll have access to shared learning materials and resources such as lecture recordings, language tasks and resources, information about assessments and links to digital resources including the library materials available in electronic format. All modules at both Cardiff and Beijing Normal Universities have a designated Module Co-Ordinators who will also be able to offer support to students studying their modules. 

Professional Services staff in our Undergraduate Student Hub are available to answer your questions. We also have a dedicated Student Support Officer within the school, who can provide you with the necessary advice and guidance in a supportive, caring and confidential environment. Similar support is offered to students during their time at Beijing Normal University through the Teaching Affairs Office, the Office of International Exchange and Co-Operation and the International Students Office. 

Student Life, located in the Centre for Student Life, offers a range of services. These support services encompass: Advice and Money, Student Futures, Counselling, Health and Wellbeing, the Student Disability Service, Academic Study Skills and Student Mentoring, and excellent libraries and resource centres.

Due to the unique nature of the Modern Chinese (BA) programme, significant support is included to ensure that you have as much preparation as possible before travelling to China for your second and third year of study.

You’ll attend pre-departure meetings with the Academic Co-ordinator for Chinese as well as visiting scholars from Beijing Normal University, and the Global Opportunities office. The meetings will provide important cultural information on manners and conduct in China, travelling, food and shopping, staying safe, holiday periods and other practical matters.

How will I be assessed?

Our assessments are designed to support you in developing your ideas, skills, and competencies. They encourage you to be innovative and creative, to think critically about the texts and cultures you encounter and to present evidence-based arguments both in English and through the medium of Mandarin Chinese.

You’ll study the building blocks of the Mandarin Chinese language, including grammatical and lexical patterns and structures. These skills will be regularly assessed over the course of your language modules, which reflects the progressive and accumulative nature of language learning.

We use traditional assessment formats (such as essays, exams, quizzes, oral exams, presentations, and dissertation) as well as more innovative forms of assessment, (the creation of vlogs, podcasts, video and audio projects, interviews, portfolios and poster presentations). 

While studying at Beijing Normal University, you will be assessed as any other student studying there. Beijing Normal University also require you to complete traditional methods of assessment for the Chinese higher education context, which include coursework, final exams and grading of continuous participation in class.  

Individual feedback is provided on all assessed work to help you improve performance for future assessments, and you’ll have opportunities to discuss this feedback with your tutors. In addition, you’ll do various practice exercises such as quizzes. presentations and essay or project plans. You’ll receive formative feedback from tutors to improve your learning and understanding before you complete your summative assessments.

What skills will I practise and develop?

On successful completion of your programme, you’ll be able to:

Knowledge & Understanding:

KU 1 Speak, write, and understand Mandarin Chinese language to degree standard.  

KU2 Understand the structures, registers and varieties of Mandarin Chinese and use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes, as appropriate.

KU 3 Critically analyse aspects of Chinese culture, history and society by drawing on a range of materials and approaches. 

KU4 Demonstrate an in-depth, critical knowledge, awareness and understanding of the similarity and dissimilarity of the Chinese culture and society other than your own.

KU 5 Apply an in-depth intercultural understanding including specific knowledge of the Chinese culture, to navigate and mediate between more than one culture.

Intellectual Skills:

IS 1 Communicate clearly, concisely and effectively to diverse audiences, in writing and speech, in English and Mandarin Chinese language.

IS 2 Adopt a range of strategies to initiate and undertake analysis of information.

IS 3 Formulate conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of views and arguments, justifying these with sound reasoning and detailed interpretations of source material.

IS 4 Critically evaluate ideas and arguments, through the coherent presentation of information and ideas using a plethora of written and oral skills. 

IS 5 Draw on relevant and effective research techniques to plan and write or deliver academic texts (essays, presentations, audio-visual texts) using evidence and the correct referencing conventions.

Professional Practical Skills:

PS 1 Use digital media effectively as a source of information, a means of communication and as an aid to learning. 

PS 2 Apply enhanced linguistic skills in a professional setting. 

PS 3 Identify and describe problems and work collaboratively towards their resolution.

PS 4 Demonstrate resilience, adaptability and independence through time spent in an immersive Mandarin Chinese language context.

Transferable/Key Skills:

KS 1 Employ critical thinking and reasoning to analyse and evaluate diverse and complex texts and ideas. 

KS 2 Apply practical research skills. 

KS 3 Generate original ideas and apply creative, imaginative and innovative thinking in response to identified needs and problems.   

KS 4 Learn from constructive feedback and incorporate its insights.

KS 5 Be resourceful and take responsibility for your own guided and independent learning and professional development.

KS 6 Utilise a range of employability and enterprise skills, such as creativity, initiative, organisation, time management, independent and team working.

KS 7 Act as a global citizen, engaging with and valuing cultural difference through practical experience of living and studying in China. 


Career prospects

We’re committed to helping you achieve your professional ambitions, providing you with the skills, curiosity, and confidence to make your mark in a competitive job market. Whether you have a clear idea of what you would like to do after university, or no idea at all, we have the tools and support to guide you.

Work experience and placements are great opportunities to enhance your employability and career prospects and can help you make decisions about your future career plans. The Modern Chinese (BA) programme includes placement learning as an integral element of your degree programme.

Each term, we also advertise On-Campus Internships. These are summer vacation opportunities for students to work under supervision on education innovation, professional services, and staff-defined research projects.

Our graduates flourish in the job market, equipped with a range of academic and practical skills – including teamworking, leadership and communication – valued by employers. Their language degrees lead them into a diverse and exciting range of careers which have included finance, international sport liaison roles, business consultancy, education, health, the media, politics, diplomacy, interpreting, translation, law and teaching.

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HESA Data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2021. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2019/20, published by HESA in June 2022.