Chinese Studies

This two-year specialisation in Chinese Studies combines content courses with intensive and advanced language training.

You will be taught by internationally recognised experts in fields ranging from political science to literature and religion, as well as experienced teachers of Chinese as a foreign language.
The programme will equip you with an excellent command of Mandarin (and – in the case of certain specialisations – of Classical Chinese), a broad knowledge of China, insight into its internal and external dynamics, and starting points for contextualising China within Asia. An important part of your training and education you will get from your one year stay at Shandong university.

In addition, the programme utilises the resources of the world-renowned Leiden sinological library, one of the largest and most diverse collection in Europe and an important reference point for scholars from around the world.Chinese Studies at Leiden builds on a long, continuous tradition of internationally recognised, local expertise. This enables the combination of diachronic and synchronic perspectives, and constitutes a wide-ranging institutional memory.
Evidence is found in a wealth of publications aimed at specialist and general audiences, and in top-quality library collections and archives. Direct access to source materials in Chinese provides the foundations for scholarship in the fields of art and material culture, including:

  • Cultural/intellectual/social/economic history;
  • Language;
  • Literature and film;
  • Media and communication;
  • Philosophy;
  • Political science;
  • Religion.

As a programme unique in the Netherlands, it provides a nation-wide avenue for the first-hand study of a civilisation whose significance – past, present and future – needs no elucidation.


The objective of the programme is to ensure you graduate with the following skills:

  • An excellent command of Mandarin and – in the case of certain specialisations – Classical Chinese;
  • A broad knowledge of China, and the ability to comment on China from other vantage points – for example, western Europe – for both specialist and general audiences, and to act as cultural mediators;
  • Some awareness of the history of Chinese Studies, its current development, its interfaces with various disciplines – for example, anthropology, history, art history, linguistics, literature, religion – and its societal importance;
  • Awareness of disciplinary thinking, concepts, terminology and methodology as dictated by your regional-disciplinary specialisation;
  • The ability to carry out independent and academic-quality research.

It is also possible to focus on Chinese Studies within the two-year Research Master’s programme Asian Studies and the one-year East Asian Studies programme.

Master details

  • This is a specialisation of: Asian Studies
  • Degree Master of Arts in Asian Studies
  • Mode of study Full-time
  • Duration 2 years
  • Start date September
  • Language of instruction English
  • Location Leiden
  • Croho/isat code 60840

Manya Koetse

.. Manya Koetse, on boosting nationalism by constructing collective memories of the Second Sino-Japanese War

“I have been fascinated with the cultures and languages of East Asia ever since I was young. Japan was my first love, China came later. The unceasing interest in these countries was the motor driving me throughout my studies – graduating in Japanese and China Studies, and completing the Research MA in Asian Studies.

Studying in Japan and China, I noticed how the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) was still very much alive in their bilateral relations. Later I read an American experiment on the impact of advertisement on memory. It showed that individuals, after being exposed to a particular Disneyland advertisement, remembered they had personally met Mickey Mouse and shook his hand when they were young, even when this was not the case. It led me to my thesis topic. If a company such as Disney can affect childhood memories, then the governments of China and Japan must also, to some extent, be able to affect how the Sino-Japanese war is nationally remembered.

My thesis explains how both countries use war memorials to construct collective memories on their respective roles in war, boosting nationalism. In doing so, the government functions as an advertiser that mainly displays the strength of the own nation through its war memorials.

These kinds of national war memories become perilous when they are used as diplomatic weapons to keep present international hostilities alive. It is therefore pivotal that we are vigilant and critical about what kind of memories we carry with us, and why. After all, even our memories of Mickey Mouse cannot always be trusted.”

Manya Koetse, Asian Studies (research)

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