MPhil/PhD Chinese

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
  • Chinese
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April


Why study for a Humanities PhD

Hear from staff and postgraduate research students as they explain what makes Exeter a unique place to study at a postgraduate level. View full size.

Chinese Studies is an exciting programme which incorporates a number of established subject areas, including literature, history, art history, translation studies and cultural studies.  It particularly appeals to students with a background or interest in subject matters related to China, which is not only one of the most ancient civilizations but also one of the great economic and cultural forces in today’s world.

Our MPhil/PhD in Chinese Studies at Exeter provides an opportunity for you to study with leading academics who are specialists in this field. We offer PhD supervision on a range of topics encompassing Chinese art and cultural history, Chinese-European cultural contacts, Translation and China’s modernisation, Chinese literature in translation, and sex and desire in Chinese medicine and literature. The programme draws on established, internationally recognised research activity and top-quality research-led teaching.

Our research in Chinese Studies draws upon the expertise of our core members and also of colleagues from across the Humanities disciplines with research interests in Chinese studies, so our students have opportunities for cross-disciplinary research in collaboration with other relevant fields of study. Our diverse research specialisms include art and architectural theory, history, political sciences, performance, and visual cultures.

In addition to co-operation with departments and research centres in the College of Humanities (including the ‘Centre for Translating Cultures’, based in Modern Languages), we share research interests with colleagues working across the University.  Beyond the University we have good relations with UK museums and galleries, as well as academic and research institutions internationally, attracting research students from all over the world and many cultural backgrounds. There are frequent public seminars and lecture series which feature distinguished scholars and public figures in related fields from the UK, Europe and throughout the world.

Visit our staff profiles for more information about individual research interests.

Research areas

What activities are of interest to prospective research students?

Research students are encouraged to integrate fully into the College and participate in our subject-specific staff/postgraduate seminar programmes, and our research training seminar series, during term-time, as well as participate in the University’s Researcher Development Programme.

As a postgraduate research student you will have the support of both a first and second supervisor, and a mentor, to make sure you get the one-to-one contact needed.

We strongly encourage students to give papers at major conferences, and at the College’s annual PGR Conference; we also offer advice on how best to get work published. Research students participate in the lively seminar series organised by our research groups and centres, whose speakers include leading academics from around the world. There may also be teaching opportunities.

What does a research degree involve?

Both MPhil and PhD research degrees involve an extensive investigation of a particular topic.

MPhil research takes a maximum of three years to complete full-time, or five years part-time, and is assessed by the submission of a dissertation of up to 60,000 words. The PhD takes a maximum of four years full-time and seven years part-time and the results of your research will normally be assessed by a written thesis of up to 100,000 words and oral examination. The PhD is only awarded when the results of your investigation make an original contribution to knowledge in the field.

A PhD is the highest qualification that a university can award and offers a challenging and exciting opportunity to work at the cutting-edge of research: if you have these qualities Exeter can offer a very supportive environment in which to pursue research. It may be possible to study for a PhD or MPhil with only occasional visits to the University. Distance-based students undertake the majority of their research at an off campus location of their choosing. This may mean they visit the campus at just a few keys times during their studies and for no more than four months per year. If you think you may be interested in a distance-based MPhil/PhD, please read the guidance and further information before applying.

Research areas

A summary of our main areas of research focus is provided here. The Chinese postgraduate webpages provide more comprehensive details about current research projects. Details on individual staff research interests and publications can be found on the Chinese staff profiles pages.

  • Chinese art and culture, 17th-18th centuries
  • Chinese-European cultural exchanges, 17th-18th centuries
  • History of the senses in China
  • Translation and China’s modernization
  • Chinese literature in translation
  • Sex and desire in Chinese medicine and literature
  • Translation and Representation in Chinese cinema
  • Chinese modern intellectual history
  • Chinese literary history
  • 19th-20th century history of international relations
  • Contemporary Sino-Middle Eastern relations


We provide access to excellent computing facilities and training is provided in a broad range of academic and general professional skills, such as compiling a CV, interview skills and time management.

Following the recent refurbishment of the Queen’s Building, you will benefit from a dedicated postgraduate IT suite and lounge, as well as a postgraduate and staff common room. There is also a study room containing a number of private study carrels for research students.


We are committed to ensuring you receive high quality research supervision to maximise your potential and prepare you for a rewarding career. You will develop skills which will be useful to you whether or not you stay in academia including highly developed research methods skills.  Possible careers include academic research and teaching, and potentially, usually with further professional training, employment in research and policy organisations and charities in the UK and beyond.

Postgraduate students have access to the wide range of support offered by our Career Zone. In addition, postgraduate research students can access our Postgraduate Researchers' Programme, which covers a range of topics to help you to succeed during your research degree and to act as a springboard for your research career.

Graduate destinations

Below are some examples of initial jobs undertaken by Modern Languages postgraduates who studied with us in recent years.

Please note that due to data protection, the job titles and organisations are listed independently and do not necessarily correspond.

Job titleOrganisation
Departmental Portfolio Manager
English and French Tutor
Modern Foreign Languages Supply Teacher
Paralegal Assistant
Project Manager and Translator
Project Officer
Sustainability Projects Officer
Translation Internship
Translator/English Trainer
Visiting Lecturer
Aktuel Translations
Co-operative Group
MBE Training and Translation
Middlesex University
Swansea University
University of Exeter
Walber International

Entry requirements 2018

Normally students will have proficiency in Chinese (good command of written and spoken Chinese), a good UK Honours degree (2:1 Honours or international equivalent) and a Master’s degree with Merit or international equivalent in a related subject.

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements. You will also need to satisfy our English language entry requirements.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 7.0 with a minimum score of 6.5 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 6.0.


Overall score 100 with minimum scores of 25 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

65 with no less than 58 in all communicative skills.

Cambridge English: Advanced & Proficiency

Overall score 185 with a minimum score of 176 in the writing component and all other sections no less than 169.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2018/19

  • UK/EU: £4,400 full-time; £2,200 part-time
  • International: £16,400 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Scholarships and other funding

Find out about funding opportunities available to students on our research degrees in Modern Languages.

Current available funding

Contact us

College of Humanities
Postgraduate Administrator
Phone: +44 (0)1392 725306
Web: Enquire online